What would happen if we took Jesus' instruction to pick up our cross and follow Him literally? Arthur Blessitt picked up his cross on Christmas Day, 1969, and began a 40-year journey to take the cross around the world. He covered all seven continents, walked through 315 countries, island groups and territories, and logged more than 2 million air miles. Now we can watch some of his amazing pilgrimage in the documentary The Cross by Matthew Crouch and Gener8xion Entertainment.
Arthur Blessitt is one of the most unique individuals to walk the face of the Earth. In fact, he is the only individual to ever literally walk the face of the Earth. Inducted into the Guinness Book of World Records for the "World's Longest Walk," Arthur has spent the last 40 years traversing all seven continents, 315 countries, island groups and territories. He’s survived war zones, firing squads and beatings, blazing deserts and deadly jungles.
Yet perhaps even more amazing than the 38,102 miles he's tread is the completely unquantifiable number of people that have been the focus of his journey along the way. He's dined with presidents and peasants, been greeted by hundreds of thousands in jammed packed squares and walked deserted highways…all for one grand purpose.
An Amazing Experience
How do you take over 140 hours of video footage and condense it into 90 minutes? How do you tell a 40-year story in less than two hours? How do you communicate the essence of a man whose mission field encompasses the entire world? That's the challenge faced by screenwriter Stephan Blinn (One Night with the King) and director Matthew Crouch (Megiddo: The Omega Code 2).
Part video log, part personal recollection by Blessitt and part commentary by Crouch, who has known Blessitt for many years, The Cross manages to give an enticing bird's-eye view of Blessitt's life. Crouch's personal fascination with Blessitt's adventures provides the narrative glue and injects humor into what could have seemed like a slide presentation from a returning missionary.
The most powerful part of the documentary is at the end, when Blessitt looks back from the end of his journey. With a humble spirit and grateful heart, he wonders at the epic nature of his life. It's obvious he's a man deeply in love with the Savior, and that his life has been affected even more than the thousands of people he's ministered to.
A Little Incomplete but Great Lesson in Personal Evangelism
There are some interesting graphic choices at the beginning that feel a little like someone trying out new things, and don't quite fit the tone of the rest of the film. And without much information about Blessitt's life beyond his wanderings, it's a little incomplete. (I had to visit the Blessitt's website to know he's married and that his wife traveled with him most, if not all, of the time)
One aspect of the film that was a highlight for me that could have been a happy coincidence of editing was watching Blessitt as he interacted with non-believers around the world. It's almost a primer in personal evangelism. He encounters people who ignore him, who walk away from him, and those who listen intently then pray to receive salvation. Want to know how to share the Lord and how to handle yourself well in those situations? Watch this film.
The Cross is rated PG for thematic material, some violent images, and mild language including drug references. Blessitt lived through some harsh situations and ministered to drug users, and that's not watered down. But it does not overtake the film.
Courtesy of the film's distributor, Angela viewed a promotional copy of The Cross.
Angela Walker is Executive Editor of ChristianCinema.com, and specializes in writing movie reviews and related articles, as well as interviewing filmmakers for insight into the moviemaking process.