[by Linda Moldovan]
The 2018 film ‘Tortured for Christ’ is based on the true story of Richard Wurmbrand, a Romanian minister who was imprisoned and tortured under the Ceausescu regime for many years due to his preaching the gospel.
The film is beautifully shot, well-acted, and both heartbreaking and moving. Supposedly, the film is two hours long. However, according to my calculation, the actual running time is just over an hour. I specifically remember looking at my phone after I realized that the film was winding down and being surprised that I had only been in the theater for about an hour. There is an additional modern worship scene at the end that tacks on a few minutes, but it seemed greatly out of place to me.
Overall, the film felt…unfinished. There are many things that could have been added on to fully flesh out Wurmbrand’s amazing story and give the audience a greater understanding of the events that occurred. Although we see scenes of how life was for Christians (and most Romanians in general) during the Ceauscescu regime, we do not see how Wurmbrand and his family (his wife and young son) escaped the country. We see very little of the downfall of Ceausescu. The film could easily have run three hours, because the material is there. I was left wanting to know more about Wurmbrand’s full story.
For parents wanting their young children or teens to see this movie, the film includes just a few scenes of the torture that was endured by Wurmbrand and others, but these scenes are very hard to watch. There is one scene in particular between a father and son in prison where I wanted to look away. Most of the torture takes place in a prison, but there are a couple of scenes shown in a labor camp, too. I would say this film is PG-13, mostly for a few scenes of violence.
The overall message is so important for (especially) younger people to know: God before country, God before family, God before your life. There is one scene in particular where Wurmbrand stands before the government, which includes religious leaders spouting the broken theology of the new Communist regime. Wurmbrand walks to the podium uninvited and states that all must follow Jesus, first and foremost. This riles up the leaders, as apparently that is something controversial to say in front of a gaggle of so-called Christians.
The film is narrated in English, and the scenes in Romanian and Russian have English subtitles (for the most part).