Pillbox

Jesus is King review

Credit: Rebecca Enright/Art Editor Credit: Rebecca Enright/Art Editor

I walked into the movie theater, got my ticket scanned, and was directed to the IMAX auditorium. I entered only 10 minutes before the scheduled start of the film and was immediately confused to find complete silence.

As I turned and made my way up the stairs to my seat, I came upon another striking realization: there is no one else in the auditorium. Shocked, I heard my slow footsteps echo across the room as I took my seat. Was I in the right theater? I walked out, checked, walked back in. Yep, this was the right one.

My echoing footsteps lead me back to my seat, and I wondered for a moment if I had made a wrong decision. There were no advertisements, no trailers, no distractions—just the sound of a movie playing in the neighboring auditoriums and the squeaking of my own chair. Suddenly, as the clock struck 5:15 p.m., the sound of a projector swooshed and the empty screen before me turned on.

The lights above me dimmed, and alone in the pitch black darkness, the surround sound audio boomed with the sound of a choir singing the “Hallelujah” part of Kanye’s song “Selah” — intense and quiet, chanting over and over until the screen all at once revealed a bright image, the choir singing at an increasingly higher pitch, the passion in their voices palpable as the camera panned out. In wonder, I leaned forward in my seat and took in the sounds and sights. I had made the right decision.

Throughout Kanye West’s experimental concert short film, Jesus is King, director Nick Knight presents raw and powerful Gospel that captivates the soul in a manner undeniable and inspiring. There were no scripts, no scenes between fictional characters. Only raw, though intentional, footage of Kanye’s Sunday Service Choir singing classic Christian hymns under an open circle of sky light, the clouds visible and the sun shining happily on their faces.

I was enthralled by the beauty of the sound of this gospel choir and their pure, honest praise to Jesus Christ. The short film in itself displayed so many profound, human aspects of the Christian experience shown after the choir had a powerful session of praise and lovingly embraced one another as they wiped each other’s tears — from a deep-seated place of misery and longing, to the joy and lightness that comes with the peace of the Holy Spirit, to the pure awe and worship of Jesus Christ with a heart so grateful the words are sung through tears, to the community and fellowship that comes with the journey. It was a beautiful experience to sit through, one that had me clapping, singing, crying, and smiling.

The film ended after a close up of a young child in her father’s arms, with Kanye singing “Use this Gospel,” a song about the importance of putting faith in the Bible, and in trusting Jesus. The credits rolled as “Jesus is Lord” gave the speakers their final boom, and the screen turned off. The projector swooshed off and the dimmed lights reentered the auditorium as I took in the half hour, unapologetic statement that was this film. I looked around in awe to seek the reaction of others in spite of myself, completely forgetting I was, still, the only one in the theater. I rose from my seat, my echoing footsteps lighter and the glimmering sunlight outside brighter. Beautiful, spiritual, and impactful — Jesus is King uplifted the energy of an empty room that should have been packed.