The film begins with an image of the gay coloured rainbow flag. Then there is the Passion Play put on by the people of Eureka Springs, Arkansas in the Bible Belt of America. I first wondered whether I did see the rainbow flag as it would be strange that a film that propagates Christianity and born-gain Christians would also advocate gay rights. Thankfully, the film, a doc about both Christianity and gay rights proves that these two entities can live happily together ever after. Thus, it is a feel-good documentary that everyone can learn from – tolerance and the respect for every prison’s rights and beliefs.
Eureka Springs is a small town in Arkansas that is the home of about two thousand residents, as the city welcome sign proudly proclaims. Yet the town attracts thousands of visitors annually to a Passion Play. The Passion Play depicts the entirety of the life of Jesus from his birth to his resurrection and his ascension to heaven, which is shown in the climax of the movie, happening at night with the actor playing the Messiah rising up into the sky with the appropriate Christian music and lighting. It sounds tacky but it works and there is a certain sanctity about it that everyone should respect.
Other parts of the Passion Play are also shown on screen. The betrayal of Jesus by Judas Iscariot, the crucifixion of Jesus on the cross and the rolling away of the stone of Jesus tomb after Jesus’ burial at Easter. These scenes are intercut with performances in a local gay club where drag queens strut their stuff much to the amusement of the spectators. But many of the performers are Christians themselves. The directors emphasize in these intercutting of scenes that Christianity and the gay lifestyle can reside by each other comfortably. These drag performances are also lively and fun to watch.
THE GOSPEL OF EUREKA is a simply made doc, There is not much research required and not much approval and copyrights needed for the doc’s making. But the carefully placed segments and well thought-up interviews more than make up for the film’s effectiveness.
The best interview on display appears to be taken at random with a driver in a car who resides in Eureka Springs. He speaks against gays and says that he will never have one invited to his house. He cannot give any concrete reason for this behaviour except for his sexual discrimination. He clearly says that the one interviewing him would be welcome to his home, obviously not realizing that he would likely be gay. This clearly shows prejudice and stereotyping on his part. The interviewer clearly states that the driver is welcome in his home, implying that he is gay.
The film is set at Christmas when the Passon Play is played. Spend Christmas with Jesus and the Queens…. goes the film’s ad. Yes, audiences will have a Merry time at that!