Fragments of Truth

Reviewed
Tue. 4/24/18
Fragments of Truth
3.4166666666667
Acting
4
4/5
Morality
5
5/5
Music
3
3/5
Story
3
3/5
Visuals
3.5
3.5/5
Kernel Factor
2
2/5
Strap in. You're about to get your MDiv
Reviewed By: Steven Siwek
Viewing Environment:
Theater
Viewing Crew:
Significant Other
Times Watched:
1
Genre:
Documentary
Payment Method:
Premium Ticket
Review:

*Hey OP Fans, as fate would have it I am in the process of licensing my documentary, "Future of the Church", to Faithlife Films - the production company behind this movie, "Fragments of Truth." Although I've done my best to give an honest review, I want this potential bias to be revealed. Now, on to the review. First, if you don't know what MDiv is (Master of Divinity), you probably shouldn't see this movie. I'm sort of kidding, but I think "Fragments of Truth" is a must see movie for Christians. If you are serious about studying the Bible, then you need to watch this to see some of the ancient texts and better understand the process by which the Bible came to be. So, for me, the topic is honestly more important than the quality of the filmmaking. As for the filmmaking, I think this film was on a great track, but gets somewhat derailed at the midpoint when it begins repeating itself. It was a strange moment that I explain in greater detail below, but I don't think it's bad enough to avoid seeing. But please note, you're going to need your thinking cap when you watch this.

Acting
The interviewees are great. I happened to hear Dr. Evans speak just a few weeks before this film's release, and I really liked his talk and persona. Nothing changed for me in watching this - I just like him and trust him, which is key in someone watching this film. Having made a documentary, one of the things I wish I would've done that I similarly wish this documentary had done is actually show/interview the opposing viewpoint. It's one thing to express the opposing viewpoint in light of "your own side" but it's a whole other thing to bring in the opposing side and allow for them to speak in nuanced ways about their views. That would've helped this film have more depth and possibly trust. Lastly, I don't think the narration, altough it was epic, was necessary. The film essentially has two narrators and I don't think it needed anyone else besides Dr. Evans. It unnecessarily complicates the film. 
Morality
Nothing to worry about here for kids, except for the fact that many people will think this film to be too lofty in terms of Ph.D.-level thinking. As I mentioned in the Acting section, I love the pursuit of searching for truth and providing reasons/understanding, but I hoped the other side would be better represented. This film will most likely only affect those who already claim to be Christian, and might not have as strong of an affect on non-Christians, especially those who do not even want to talk or think about Christianity.
Music
There are moments where it gets overdone and builds to an emotion that we're not always seeing visually, but overall it's fine.
Story
Let me start with a major positive: Christians should see this movie. If you are wanting to better understand the Bible, you need to watch this. The idea of the "reliability of Scripture" is certainly a hot item these days, and I believe for the most part this film faithfully seeks out and receives solid answers. Now, from a filmmaking perspective I have a couple of challenges. I don't know the last time I said a movie was "too fast" in its pacing, but "Fragments of Truth" starts off with a bang. I couldn't catch my breath for the first 30-40 minutes of the movie. It's one major piece from antiquity after another - however, MDiv students, you might see this movie as part of the curriculum in seminaries across the country. For the average audience, they needed the film to breathe more because I don't know how much knowledge retention was happening. But just as I was about to catch my breath, the strangest thing happened. At about the 40 or 45 minute mark, the movie began to repeat itself. I seriously almost got up to tell the theater attendents that the film somehow got replayed, but it didn't. I don't want to spoil it for anyone, but essentially the very premise we were chasing the first half of the movie is the same premise (with nearly the same answers) in the second half of the movie. It was tough for me to swallow because with the exception of moving along very quickly, this documentary had a great first half and then became strangely redundant. 
Visuals
My hats off to the animator/visual fx team. I think the visual effects were really eye-catching and helped the b-roll tremendously - although sometimes it was too quick. Most of the interviews were well done in terms of set up. There were a few times where the lighting was really blown out and other times where b-roll was overused or came in and out very quickly. The main background behind Dr. Evans is one of my favorites in a documentary, beautiful. Lastly, the shots of ancient papyri and other old literature is very cool, and the fact they got access is super impressive.
Kernel Factor
Read what I wrote in the Story section and you'll better understand my lower Kernel Factor score. I think the film needed to be better organized, but I also can tell they had limited time to work as they traveled with Dr. Evans on what was likely a time-constrained trip abroad. Only working with the footage you have can be a huge challenge in documentary work. That being said, I felt like the team should have watched "Case for Christ" and simply followed the outline of that successful book and movie, which dives into this exact topic. Lastly, it would've been so wonderful to get more real-time translation of the ancient Greek texts to English. I saw these beautiful old manuscripts with ancient markings, but we are rarely given an exact translation then and there. I thought that was a missed opportunity, but for me it showed the time constraints in making this.