Christians get a lot of their ideas about heaven from pop culture and classical literature. Can we know what is heaven really like and can we truly know what happens when we die? THE CASE FOR HEAVEN attempts to answer those questions but left me with more questions than answers.
About THE CASE FOR HEAVEN
Synopsis: We all want to know what happens after we die. In THE CASE FOR HEAVEN, best-selling author and investigative journalist Lee Strobel explores the evidence for the afterlife in order to address man’s biggest fear: death. Inspired by his own brush with death, Strobel searches for answers to the most profound questions we all have, about heaven, hell, and Near-Death Experiences. Featuring interviews with experts and skeptics, THE CASE FOR HEAVEN will challenge, encourage and inspire as Strobel dares to probe the most important question. If there is a heaven, can we prove it?
THE CASE FOR HEAVEN features interviews with best-selling author John Burke, world-renowned pastor Francis Chan, the late Evangelist Luis Palau, and more.
Review and Analysis
THE CASE FOR HEAVEN is a documentary so unlike a movie about fictional characters, there is no story. However, the director Mani Sandoval weaves the accounts of near-death experiences (NDEs) and the personal thoughts and beliefs of the people interviewed into a narrative. A meta-narrative flows throughout the movie between Sandoval and Strobel about making the movie.
A large portion of the movie is spent having people talking about themselves and not so much about the “profound questions we all have about heaven, hell, and Near-Death Experiences.” The people interviewed are interesting and they have compelling accounts of events in their lives but I think too much emphasis is put on who they are and not enough on what they believe.
THE CASE FOR HEAVEN attempts to answer the question, “What happens when you die?”
For the most part, it skirts the edges of the answer. The movie is less than two hours long and that’s not a lot of time to really explore the concepts of death, beliefs about death, or even NDEs.
The movie leaves me wanting to know more. In fact, I think this would have been better as a multi-part series because it’s difficult to take concepts that can be explained in a book and condense them for a screenplay.
Death, heaven, hell, and what happens to us when we die are all things people think about at some point in their lives and if this had been a series much more could have been explored.
Mani Sandoval’s direction in this documentary really drew me in. The questions he asked and the settings he chose for the interviews helped set a comfortable instead of confrontational tone.
There are many scenes with music and much of the film uses music to set the emotional tone of the film. There’s a really cool scene with Eric Owyoung that features samples of sounds from space.
Personal accounts and beliefs of “Christian celebrities” were combined with the retelling of NDEs in a way that, again, left me wanting to hear more. Unfortunately, it takes nearly 30 minutes before the first NDE is described.
And although the title suggests that a case would be made for the existence of heaven, I didn’t feel that the movie delivered. The exploration and journey were fantastic but I feel like the answer is just around the corner and our car has run out of gas.
THE CASE FOR HEAVEN is streaming on Pure Flix now and is clearly targeted at a Christian audience. People familiar with the book with the same title and Lee Strobel’s other works would also be interested in watching it as well.
I’m of two minds about this film. The crafting of the movie and many of the interviews are very compelling but where it falls short for me is delivering on the title. I don’t think an actual case was made for the existence of heaven. I’m thinking about reading the book. Maybe that’s the whole point of the movie. If you have a subscription to Pure Flix you can watch it now.
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Disclosure: Many thanks to Pure Flix for providing a digital screener for this review. Opinions are 100% my own.