If you’re a fan of old sitcoms, you may be familiar with Kirk Cameron. Back in the mid- to- late ’80’s, he was a teen star on ABC’s hit show Growing Pains. As an adult, his work has taken a much different path than many actors with his latest project, a documentary called “Monumental: In Search of America’s Treasure”. Normally I don’t write reviews of movies here, mostly because I just don’t go see them. However, I found this one to be better than many historically-based documentaries.
To begin, “Monumental” presents the problems our nation is facing today- massive debt, families in decline, loss of morality, government spending, etc. The film doesn’t blame any person or party, for America’s problems are mostly a “heart problem” that no one seems to know how to fix. The question presented in the beginning was, “What can we do?” Cameron and his crew attempt to find an answer by going back to the basics of our nation’s founding. Their travels take them to England and Holland to explore the lives of the people we call “pilgrims”. The film holds the audience’s interest by not getting too bogged down in dates and names and who did what and when- all the things that most people find boring about history. Far from boring, Cameron speaks with people who are experts on the puritans and what they were dealing with as subjects of a tyrannical king.
We learn how this relatively small band of men, women and children became spiritually aware upon the first English printing of the Bible. Their desire to serve God as they chose, free from the Church of England, made them outcasts and could have cost them their lives. The film takes us through their trials in England, then Holland, then back to England, and finally on their journey to the New World. We come to understand their obstacles in a way most of us have never been taught, and hear stories of how God was faithful to uphold them through it all. Cameron walks where they walked, right down to the prison they were thrown into for their faith.
By the time the film moves on to Plymouth, the viewer already has a greater respect for these pilgrims, who were so focused in their faith and hung onto the belief that God would use them to one day bring the light of truth back to their homeland. Gone are the stereotypes of these pioneer families. They were so much more than the stoic, starched creatures in black and white that we learned about in elementary school. These were some hard-working, persevering people with a plan to settle in a new land where they could worship freely.
Cameron continues his visits with historical experts and points of interest, including a monument most of us have never even heard of because, for some reason, it’s been lost to history. The National Monument to the Forefathers in Plymouth, MA is referred to in the film as sort of a “Matrix of Liberty”- how the pilgrims ordered the civil society based on eternal truths, such as faith, morality, justice, mercy and education. Our forefathers believed these basic truths to be the best way to live a peaceful, happy life together. This beautiful monument is the largest granite monument in the nation and lies in a park near a residential area that didn’t look as if it were a big tourist attraction. I would imagine this movie will draw more sight-seers to view this testimony them and to the faith on which our nation was founded.
I think this movie is a call to action, especially for those who consider themselves to be Christians. At the beginning of the film, Cameron expressed some frustration that he finds in other Christians when he talks about how we can turn things around. He said people tell him that as things go downhill, that’s a sign we’re getting closer to the end and these things “have to happen”. His concern is for his children and their children…what kind of country will they have to live in if we don’t do all we can to turn things around in our time. We must be, as those pilgrims were, men and women of liberty. We were all born in this time and in this place for a reason. I believe God will hold us responsible for what we didn’t do when it was our turn to stand for our nation in its time of need.
One thing you can do is watch this film, and you can do that by bringing it to your area at www.demandthemovie.com/monumental/. Then, spread the word, because “Monumental” the film is just the beginning.
***NOTE: As of 3/16/13, the website above is now defunct; You can order the movie on DVD at https://www.monumentalmoviedvd.com/Index.dtm