‘I Can Only Imagine’: From Ground-Breaking Song to Compelling Cinematic Labor of Love

Written by Allan Erickson on April 2, 2018

Rarely are we treated to a transcendent experience: a film so moving and spellbinding, it becomes a deep spiritual experience, one directed at the most important, and difficult questions. Five stars to the producers, the director, the screenwriters and the cast.

Do not deprive yourself. This true story will give you hope for today, and fresh excitement about the future, showing God is with us, and He specializes in bringing beauty from the ashes, inspiring music, faith and perseverance.

The filmmakers prove that nothing compares to a true story told so exquisitely. This film brings people to tears, not by contrivance or syrup, but by deep, genuine emotion and pain, conflict and victory. Like all classic works of art I Can Only Imagine explores hate and love, meaning and eternity, good and evil, forgiveness and grace, all without preaching, without predictability, without superficiality. Prepare yourself for a gritty, gut-wrench trek.

This is the story of a boy beaten by his father and abandoned by his mother, the story of a boy who becomes a man through a series of miraculous events that many people would miss if enmeshed in the cares of the world, or crippled by resentment and despair. One of many miracles: a faithful grandmother who speaks prophecies and encouragement in the depths of tragedy. The boy has a gift that others help him discover and develop, both the gift and his helpers’ special deliveries from on high. This is a story about heroes who know the real Hero is alive and always working for our highest good.

The cast is wonderful–starring lead, Broadway’s J. Michael Finley, as Bart Millard, Dennis Quaid the father, Madeline Carroll as Bart’s girlfriend, Priscilla Shirer the teacher (War Room fame), the invincible Cloris Leachman as grandma, and Trace Adkins, the agent. Adkins is superb. (Angel of Death! , American Carol).

Finley is masterful. But it must be said, if riveting emotion, desperation, rage and the joy of redemption mark out a stellar performance, Quaid is Oscar bound. His performance is so thoroughly convincing, you become more than an observer. You become a participant, moving from rage to choking back tears, to celebration.

This is the latest in a series of high quality, contemporary Christian films that are rallying Christians and reaching out to the lost. I Can Only Imagine inspires everyone, giving us a huge view of what is possible if we will only have a little faith.

Image: Fair Use: Excerpted from: By I Can Only Imagine – Cloris Leachman, Dennis Quaid, Priscilla Shirer, Madeline Carroll, J. Michael Finley, Brody Rose and Trace Adkins. Lionsgate film., CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=65664094

Allan Erickson
Allan Erickson---Christian, husband, father, journalist, businessman, screenwriter, and author of The Cross & the Constitution in the Age of Incoherence, Tate Publishing, 2012.