‘The Blind’: Why Duck Dynasty’s Origin Story Delivers

“This is an unapologetic, confronting, and Christ-centred testimony full of grit, grime, and the grace of God.”

‘The Blind’ (2023) is a blunt recount of Phil Robertson’s past and future redemption.

I don’t think there’s been a film like it. At least, not since The Hiding Place, Cross and the Switchblade, or Mel Gibson’s The Passion.

With the exception of films like The Jesus Revolution, To End All Wars, Hacksaw Ridge, Soul Surfer, and Unbroken, cross-centric cinema is often compromised by being too softly spoken.

Brutal honesty meeting a quality retelling has been a somewhat rare attribute in the realm of Christian filmmaking.

‘The Blind’ delivers.

This isn’t another big eva, God’s Not Dead sequel, or Tim Lahaye/Jerry Jenkins Left Behind – “rapture” – revamp.

From substance abuse to domestic violence, the film paints the scene of the sinner, sinking further into the consequences of his sin.

This theme runs right through the film, starting with the Duck Dynasty founder’s childhood.

Robertson’s mother had mental health issues, and his father worked off shore.

His dad constantly away, and his mother often incapacitated, Phil, the eldest was left to fend for and then feed his brother, Si, and their two younger sisters.

Living off the land, established Phil’s love of the land.

His journey from college to Christ takes in a warts n’ all recount.

This is the story of a man, a husband, and a father, torn apart by a world he’s chosen to drown out with alcohol, self-abuse, and adultery.

It’s not until the end, that we see the transformative power of the cross, right wrongs, restore a broken man, repair a damaged family, and remind us all, just exactly why Christ is King.

Just as potently, the film recalls Robertson’s matriarch, Kay Carroway’s strength.

The contrast between reality TV lens and silver screen is stark.

This isn’t A&E’s aloof, and flighty, wife.

Kay is savvy and strong. She is both survivor and signpost pointing to Phil towards his Saviour.

My criticisms are few.

While strong in parts, I felt slightly let down by the pace.

Some scenes are too slow. Although, this appears to be a deliberate, drawing out of emotion for dramatic effect.

Additionally, the actor narration style with Phil in a duck blind was overdone. The director leaned too much on narration to fill in gaps, to speed the story along.

To be fair, director Andrew Hyatt’s task wasn’t easy.

Hyatt had to connect the audience with a protagonist, who is also the antagonist.

None of this takes away from the film’s message, its mission, and my overall impression.

The film does more than simply establish historical context for A&E’s massively successful, faith, family, and ducks 11-season hit reality TV series.

To quote the ever apt, Hollywood in Toto, The Blind is every bit the Duck Dynasty prequel.

More importantly, films like The Blind help correct bad precedents.

There are valid points put forward by a growing range of artists who walk with Christ, yet refuse to adopt the Christian prefix.

There have been too many compromises to serve fleshy Christians, buying into big eva entertainment, and its “Christian” consumerism subculture.

Without educational takeaways, a dedication to high-end quality filmmaking, and sound biblical theology guiding the way, “Christian” entertainment is an embarrassing oxymoron.

Duck Dynasty’s origin story is not that.

As Phil’s follow-up before the credits illustrate, the family holds very little back.

Right down to the family’s proven commitment to credit Christ, without regard for the Marxian-Woke world’s disgust, and disapproval.

This is an unapologetic, confronting, and Christ-centred testimony full of grit, grime, and the grace of God.

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