By Laura BennettWednesday 19 Aug 2020Hope Afternoons
Our culture has a fascination with fame and success.
When someone dreams of being a singer, dancer, designer or performer it’s assumed they’re aiming for the top of the mountain, where wealth and glory await. But what if creative ‘success’ wasn’t about making a name for yourself – but instead was seen as a vehicle to serve others?
Produced by Christian music label Bethel Music, Bright Ones is a movie-musical that uses the worship songs of the church as a soundtrack to the stories of a class of aspiring young artists. Think High School Musical for Christian kids.
Singer/songwriter Jay (Peyton Allen) and his fellow performing arts students are tasked with creating a showcase that demonstrates how each of them are uniquely made to shine – drawing out some of their insecurities along the way.
A Grounded Spiritual Approach to the Creative Arts
Bright Ones is certainly a film for kids, sitting in the sweet spot of uplifting Sunday school content with a hint of clean-cut cheesiness. It offers a grounded spiritual approach to the subject of performing and creativity, encouraging kids to enjoy their natural talents but also see God’s greater purpose in how they use them.
It doesn’t shy away from some of the burdens children can carry though, taking an age-appropriate approach to issues of adoption, loneliness, identity and family responsibility.
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In dealing with each of these areas, Bright Ones’ greatest success is showing how worship can run alongside our real life experiences and give voice to what God’s saying to us through those times. The lyrics to Bethel’s No Longer a Slave become the heart cry of a student who’s just trying to find where he fits, and longs for a family of his own:
From my mother’s womb / You have chosen me / Love has called my name
I’ve been born again / Into a family / Your blood flows through my veins
I’m no longer a slave to fear / I am a child of God…
On any given Sunday this could be a casually sung verse, but to this student, the words are a defiant declaration of Biblical truth. It’s is just one example of how Bright Ones reveals the relationship between our struggles, and how worshipping God can help us overcome them.
Everyone’s Story is Different
The movie also has a running theme about the significance of our testimony – our personal story, and how God’s hand is seen through it. Each of the students has their own dream they carry, and their own obstacle to fully pursuing it. Ultimately, they each see the validity of their own journey, and what it’s taught them about God; everyone’s unique story is shown to be vital for teaching others about different aspects of His character.
“While one life will show us God’s role as a loving Father, another can teach us about how He mends a broken heart…”
While one life will show us God’s role as a loving Father, another can teach us about how He mends a broken heart. All it takes is sharing our story, and listening to others.
At times Bright Ones does indulge in a bit of fantasy – portraying a world and an education system that enthusiastically embraces Christian ideology, where kids start schoolyard sing-offs to upbeat praise songs – but it caters to its audience perfectly.
If you’re looking for an alternative to mainstream ‘kid-with-a-dream-makes-it-big’ narratives, Bright Ones is a good option that celebrates the talent of youth while aiming to help hone their approach to it.
Bright Ones is available now via Movies Change People.