In the world of rising music stars and American Idols, I believe we fail to see the real people hidden behind the record labels and recording studios. The people who exist when all the lights and cameras are gone home for the night. When they are simply all alone with their thoughts. We don't always see the real people, the brutally honest insight into what goes on and what they are really feeling on the inside.
In the DVD Ragamuffin, which chronicles the life of Rich Mullins, you get to see past all the glitz and publicity to watch the rise of what it took back in the late 70s to gain the notoriety we see in our music artists today. Yet the one thing that sticks with you is the honesty in his life. Raised as a farmer who didn't quite possess the skills necessary to gain success in the eyes of his father, Rich gravitated to music in which he excelled naturally. Unfortunately he was seen as less than worthy in the eyes of his own father, which made understanding the love of God difficult. If God loves you, you should believe it. When Rich looked at that model in his own life no matter how many people told him that his real dad loved him, he found that faith hard to swallow.
Throughout the movie, however, Rich never losses his honest faith with connecting with the God of the Bible. His faith is genuine and the messages he shared when playing his music in churches connected with people on a level I don't think many can achieve even now. He wasn't looking for fame, wealthy or success. He simply was looking for a place to call home. He found it briefly when he met a girl named Jess, who provided him that unconditional love, we all need to feel a part of something bigger. But when Nashville called wanting to record his songs for artists like Amy Grant, Jess gracefully bowed out, even though Rich declined to go. She knew he was destined for more and the struggles he makes to find his way in the world, I think everyone can relate to.
I received Ragamuffin compliments of Millennium Entertainment and Flyby Promotions for my honest review. I did not receive any monetary compensation for a favorable review and the opinions expressed in this review are strictly my own. There are simply too many good things to say about this movie but most of all is that God is genuine and He is real. The story of Rich's life shows how desperately he wanted that connection he had with God to be manifested in human form. He shares how difficult and lonely life can be at times, and I think that hits home with so many. Our lives at times have their moments when we can simply feel all alone and wondering if our one life makes any difference at all. This story of Rich's showcases just how one life can impact and cause the ripples that span long after they begin and I believe that is the message behind it all. I easily give this one a 5 out of 5 stars in my opinion.
"Ragamuffins are the unsung assembly of saved sinners who are little in their own sight, conscious of their brokenness... and who cast themselves on His Mercy." ~ Brennan Manning
I can't attest to how true this movie is to Rich Mullins as he was on earth. I know him through his music and his words, not yet in person. (Though Rich is one of the reasons I am so delighted about my Grandmother recently going to heaven. She's there face to face with God Himself, and with Rich Mullins and others like him. How she could not rejoice for all eternity?)
What I can say is that Ragamuffin captured a man of intensity, passion and pain, with the desire to know and be known, to love and be loved, and a man who kept calling out to a God who heard Him.
I think all that is at the heart of Rich's songs, and it is the heart of this film.
Michael Koch, the actor who plays Rich, did so well. From watching multiple Youtube concert archives, I recognized some of Rich's mannerisms in Michael. While no one can ever duplicate that beautiful "Rich grin" that would flash across his face, Michael did a very fine job.
I love that Rich's songs were treated so respectfully and came across so real.
At several points when Michael was performing, I thought they must have been using real Rich audio.
Elijah, Doubly Good To You, Verge of a Miracle, Awesome God, Hold Me Jesus, We Are Not as Strong, and Be with You are all here, in whole or in part, all sung powerfully and quietly. That truly made this movie a keeper.
You could feel bits of the emotion that Rich may have felt, radiating out of the actor to the viewers, as he gave those words to the world.
Michael also conveys Rich's affection for his Jeep, his affinity for running around barefoot, and his proclivity for stopping mid-concert and shocking everybody with a well timed piece of wisdom so obvious that we'd all managed to miss it.
His epic quote is here, smack in the middle of this film. "Christianity is not about building an absolutely secure little niche in the world where you can live with your perfect little wife and your perfect little children in your beautiful little house where you have no gays or minority groups anywhere near you. Christianity is about learning to love like Jesus loved and Jesus loved the poor and Jesus loved the broken."
The holes in his jeans were here too... and the white v-neck T shirt that you see in so many 1990's concerts. And his habit of giving folks the shirt off his back, and of borrowing clothes from other people.
(There's a great story in the Homeless Man interviews where he borrowed one friend's boots, in Ireland, wore them home, to America, and then gave them away!)
They even recreated a "let's make it rain" scene! Again, I've watched him do that on Youtube and it's the coolest thing.
Although I've heard that the section with "Jess" is highly fictionalized, I love that it gave them room to talk about longing and loneliness- two things that permeate his music. It was incredible the first time I heard him talk about how we'll probably always be lonely inside. Early on Jess confesses a frightening inner loneliness, and he takes her hand in his, looks at their joined hands for a moment, and says "Even when you're as close as you can be to another human- even when you're touching- you feel lonely now."
She couldn't say that she didn't.
I also think they brought his honesty and authenticity to life well. At one point a friend asks him if he's "Doing ok" and he says "Not really. I've been drinking again a lot and hating myself for it."
I also once heard someone say "Rich hated to be alone, so he created community everywhere."
He craved the presence of friends. And he was honest about that too. In our disconnected world, we'd be considered some kind of freaky codependent if we admitted how much we needed/wanted people, if we told them how much they really helped us, if we told them how glad we were that they existed and how worried we were that they would stop caring about us and drop out of out lives. Yet wouldn't it make the world a better place if we would say it all?
When he was young, they portray Rich as wanting to feel real, to feel close to God. To feel loved. As he grows, he begins to depend less on feelings, to trust that God's Love wouldn't ever leave.
And that's one certain thing: God loves Rich Mullins.
Rebelling or surrendering~ Sober or drunk~ Sinning or speaking truth~ Modeling fidelity or being honest about wanting to be plain old tempted~ Staying or moving on ~ Singing or silent.
"Getting it" or grasping at answers in the dark~ Whole or broken.
And Rich gave us so much.
Thank you to Fly By Promotions- Propeller Consulting, LLC for my review copy.