Fathom Events bring a variety of entertainment opportunities to Ames that we might not otherwise have the opportunity to see – classic films, Broadway shows, concerts and more.
They also offer the chance to get niche films into theaters for a nationwide audience. Last night, Fathom Events presented Kirk Cameron’s “Monumental: In Search of America’s National Treasure.” Monumental is a documentary that follows Cameron on a journey to understand America’s foundation, in hopes of coming up with solutions to the problems our country has today. It showed locally at the Cinemark Movies 12 in Ames.
Your worldview will greatly influence how you respond to this film. Cameron is a devout Evangelical and goes in search of the answers to his questions from a Biblical perspective. I am a Christian, but Cameron and I see eye-to-eye on very little.
The Fathom event opened with Cameron in his home surrounded by family and friends, including Conservative activist Dr. Alveda King. He also interviews Glenn Beck via satellite; Beck had gathered an audience in his studio to watch the documentary.
The documentary itself was a mixed bag. It opens with Cameron sitting outside in a chair as his kids play around him. Carmeron just stares into the camera as he does a voiceover talking about the problems plaguing America. While covering the history of the pilgrims, Cameron travels to England and visits with historians about the life of the Puritans before they came to the United States. This is the most interesting part of the film.
From there, the movie heads down familiar waters as Cameron only interviews people who affirm his worldview – Marshall Foster, David Barton, etc. Cameron bases his premise that there is a clear plan to get this country back on its feet found in a large statue – the National Monument to the Forefathers in Plymouth, Massachusetts – and he finds people to back that up.
There are several problems with the film – Cameron paints the Puritans as this almost mythical race, but fails to talk about their views on women and intolerance of anyone who believed differently thsn they did (it wasn’t good to be a Quaker in a Puritan society). Not to mention their views on theater – which would put Cameron out of work.
Cameron does the same thing when talking about the forefathers. Emphasis is placed on how strongly Christian they were, but it completely ignores slavery and other early problems that plagued our country.
Outside of the problems with the content, the movie itself is poorly put together. The transitions are overly dramatic – Cameron hammering a nail into a stone map of the next place he’s going to visit – Cameron sitting in a old jail cell, Cameron staring into space. You get the picture. Cameron puts himself into the film way too much, and it almost becomes more about his reactions (which would make a great drinking game) than about the material. The movie ends much as it begins. A voiceover as we watch Cameron, back in his chair, staring creepily at the camera.
Ultimately, the biggest problem with the film isn’t the dramatic transitions and the one-sided approach to history, it’s that its simply boring. I don’t have to agree with a documentary to enjoy it – I like being challenged, but don’t put me to sleep!
After the movie ended, the audience was taken back to Cameron’s home via satellite where we get the real message of the movie. What we’ve just watched is a beginning in a whole new commercial enterprise for Cameron and his backers. There will be books, devotionals and curriculum – even a tour – available to continue the “message” of Monumental. While I probably shouldn’t have been surprised, I had been, up to this point, willing to give Cameron the benefit of the doubt. I thought he was at least sincere, if misguided. After seeing this, it all felt like a 90-minute informercial.
With Monumental, Cameron is asking the right questions. The problem is – he doesn’t seriously want to look for the solutions. He already “knows” them. His worldview keeps him from looking for true solutions by blinding him with the “truth.”