Man of God provoked an unexpected positive reaction



The poster of the movie directed by Yelena Popovic, Man of God.

Despite the fact that my family is fairly religious—I grew up in the Eastern Orthodox Church all of my life—I haven’t been exposed to religious media as much as I have through traditional manners. 

Since my religious and daily entertainment have been thoroughly separated, especially as I have grown up, when I was ushered into the theater by my mother, my view of religion in theater movies began to shift.

I was prepared for over two hours of letting historical recreations refocused with a biblical lens muddily flow in one ear and out of the other, like the few religious films that I’ve seen had. Movies are difficult for me to sit through regardless of the topic, so a religious education lesson of that degree was sure to be a struggle.

Shockingly, the Man of God had the complete opposite effect.

The two hours raced by in what seemed to be no more than an hour, each and every scene being even more engaging than the last. Since the setting was somewhat on the modern side, ranging from the late 1800s to the mid-1900s, there was little need for superfluous elaboration surrounding the period of Saint Nektarios (Aris Servetalis). I was grateful to be able to launch right into the movie without needing much background information.

Just as the introduction was, the rest of the movie was fast-paced as well. St. Nektarios certainly wasn’t young at the start of the film, but they did appropriately show his aging process and how much he lived in such a few decades of life.

Another applause-worthy factor of the movie was the degree of legitimacy I felt while viewing Man of God. Obviously, I wasn’t alive during St. Nektarios’s life, but I have grown up in a world with real people, which is exactly what the actors in the movie portrayed. The camera movements, mannerisms, speech, and personalities of each of the different characters were tangible and flawlessly correlated with my real-life interactions with such varieties of people. 

Oftentimes, I find that movies can either shape their characters to be lovable but far from the truth or form them in an accurate but somewhat flavorless shape. Somehow, though, Man of God executed their characters in a way that made them both enjoyable to watch and realistic.

For a prime example, one of St. Nektarios’s pupils, Kostas, who is played by Aleksandr Petrov, is incredibly likable and sweet. Along with this, he is flawed, giving him depth and much room for growth throughout the duration of the movie.

Although this movie measured up to all of the normal standards of a good movie—great quality, accurate portrayals, and amicable characters—it went above and beyond just being a good watch. The message hidden behind a wall of intrigue is what this movie’s value holds; the message that applies one hundred years after it takes place.

It has Orthodox Christian beliefs and life woven throughout, but like any reasonable follower of a religion, it expresses valid criticism of the corruption that churches can hold.

Without a doubt, this movie is one in support of St. Nektarios’s accomplishments and never-ending generosity. It has Orthodox Christian beliefs and life woven throughout, but like any reasonable follower of a religion, it expresses valid criticism of the corruption that churches can hold.

No religion is saved from corrupt individuals, including the Eastern Orthodox Church. Unfortunately, many neglect to recognize this as they assume that one can only rise to the highest holy power that a human can hold through divine dedication and spiritual goodness. 

St. Nektarios was slandered by those in Egypt, where he originally resided, based only upon the fact that the others who were in power in the church wanted to push him out of the running to become the next patriarch. This is an accurate depiction of one of the ways that the church has policies that need to be revised and may still exist today.

It wasn’t just the fact that the movie was bearable, decent, or even one of the better things I’ve watched. Man of God told the true story of St. Nektarios in a way that was for all audiences, from those who enjoy action in the streets to those who want something more deeply religious and inspirational. Whether or not this movie was my typical type of entertainment, it told a story that resonates with those today; if the story survived a century strong, it surely has many more years to go.