AS IT IS IN HEAVEN is a very interesting, intense film. It is about a small religious group, guided by an elder “prophet”. The film begins with the baptism of David (Chris Nelson). Right away I thought this was an interesting choice for a beginning. Baptisms, both literal and metaphorical, usually signify a major change in a character’s life, the big plot turning point in a film. But in this case it is used to show us David’s new beginning and his entrance into a brand new life. But then we race forward several months and the prophet has announced that the Rapture is coming in just one month. Many preparations are to be made for their entrance into heaven, not least of which is the acceptance of the belief that it is really going to happen.
There are many stumbling blocks along their path of faith. Almost immediately the prophet takes ill and passes away, informing David he is the new prophet who must lead the group to the next life. But jealousies get in the way and doubts cause violent breaks of faith. Many in the group question both the coming Rapture and David’s role as the prophet. And in the end we find out what happens at the appointed date, and how David handles it all.
The film is not filled with religious preaching, rather it is an examination of human faith and the need for meaning in life, and in death. It questions how far humans will go or not go to express their faith, and when the path is filled with barriers, how they choose to overcome them. Even (and perhaps especially) the question of leadership is brought up, whether we accept it or not, how and why we make the decision of who, and whether they are needed.
The film itself is dusky and beautiful, and the mood is set with beautiful strings in the background. The acting and direction is intense, and the film gives you several things to think about as you somberly leave the theater.