Although I’ve been a longtime supporter of Voice of the Martyrs, an organization dedicated to helping persecuted Christians, I was completely unaware that its founder, Richard Wurmbrand, was also persecuted. Tortured for Christ beautifully depicts his story of courage and suffering during his 14 years spent in a Russian prison. After watching the film, whenever I would tell someone about it, I struggled to stop my emotions from bubbling to the surface and betraying my soft interior. This, to me, was a clear sign that I had found a winner.
Based off of Wurmbrand’s book of the same name, Tortured for Christ tells the true story of Richard Wurmbrand, a Romanian pastor who is imprisoned and tortured for his faith. The film also highlights the sacrifices made by other Christians that he encountered along the way. Tortured for Christ stars Emil Mandanac (In the Name of Honour, Queen Marie of Romania) and Raluca Botez (Mihai and Cristina, Solitary Prayer).
Even though the main actors in the film have relatively minimal film credits, their talent speaks for itself. Their parts required them to portray extremely emotional and physically violent scenes. They were so good that I completely forgot I was watching actors and became emotionally invested in the lives of their characters. Just to add to the difficulty, the actors were required to speak in English, Russian, and Romanian. Now that’s impressive!
With that said, be prepared to read English subtitles if you aren’t fluent in all three of those languages. As a fan of foreign film and television, I wasn’t bothered by the subtitles at all. In fact, I forgot halfway through that I was even reading them. However, even if you aren’t a fan of subtitles, I would encourage you to give the film a try. The beauty of the subtitles is that it adds to the story’s authenticity. Those are the languages that were really spoken when the events took place, so it adds to the realism.
The filming locations were also incredibly realistic. The entire movie was shot in Romania and they even filmed in the actual prison in which Pastor Wurmbrand was confined. I live in Hollywood, so I’ve become accustomed to a world where almost everything is shot on a studio lot or at a location made to look like somewhere else. This film, that clearly strove to tell the truth in every facet of its creation, was a breath of fresh air.
The most important part the entire film, however, was the message. When you live in an area like I do, there is a tendency to get comfortable…too comfortable. I sat through the two hours of the film on my comfortable bed, in my comfortable apartment, located in a comfortable neighborhood where it seems inconceivable that I would be killed for saying that I am a Christian. Yet, it is a very real possibility. As I watched this film and saw the stories of people who sacrificed everything for Jesus, I internally made the decision that, if it were to ever come to it, I would die for my faith. It wasn’t a fun scenario to contemplate, but it was a decision that needed to be made. Therefore, I encourage you to watch this movie and make a choice. I can’t promise you that it’s going to be comfortable, but as one of my teachers used to say, “There is no growth in the comfort zone, and no comfort in the growth zone.”
WHAT AGE GROUP IS IT FOR?
This movie is heavily focused on imprisonment and torture. Therefore, I would suggest that Tortured for Christ be reserved for adults 18 and older. It wasn’t overtly disturbing, but you do see depictions of people being beaten and killed.
LOOKING TO SHOW IT AT CHURCH?
While I think that this could be a wonderful movie for an adult Bible study, I wouldn’t recommend showing it during a sermon or movie night that’s open to a younger audience. This is simply because of the mature content. However, for an adult Bible study, it would be wonderful. Some discussion topics that the movie touches on is evangelism, courage, continuous worship, forgiveness, fear, and the message that our life is not our own.