Billy: The Early Years is a 2008 biographical film from Director Robby Benson. The film recounts the story of the world renown evangelist, Billy Graham, creating a portrayal of Billy’s life from the mid 1930’s to 1949 when Billy Graham finds himself speaking in his famous Los Angeles Crusade.
Armie Hammer portrays the young Billy Graham and the story of his life is told by an elderly Charles Templeton, played marvelously by Martin Landau, on his deathbed. A reporter has come to interview Templeton to see if there is any scandal on Billy Graham and Templeton tells his story. The film follows all the high points on Billy Grahams life: His acceptance of Jesus at a tent meeting and his going away to college to learn to be an Evangelist. Of course, he eventually meets Ruth Bell who will become his wife. There are other moments recounted in the film that show Mr. Graham leading to his crusade in Los Angeles.
However, the film is really about the differences between Templeton and Graham. Charles Templeton was an evangelist who helped create Youth For Christ International and hired Billy Graham as their first evangelist. The two become fast friends however the film shows Templeton being worn down by the sights of the war, the concentration camps and death, disease and suffering. These lead him to have doubts about The Lord which lead him to walk away from his church and his ministry and become an agnostic. As Templeton’s life is in a downward spiral Graham’s life is building upward and, it is possible, that God takes the evangelistic ministry that Templeton had and turns it over to Billy Graham.
The film is marvelously directed by Robby Benson who keeps the story moving along seamlessly. All the information is provided to the viewer without giving the answers. It is up to the viewer to decide just what happened and discuss the events with other viewers. Everyone has their roles down perfectly however it all focuses on Billy Graham and his role is done perfectly by Armie Hammer. You believe that this man is going to grow into the Evangelist that we all have come to know and love. This is a must see movie that will uplift you and give you a better feeling about destiny.
Phase Four Films has released the movie on DVD and also provided us with extras like the behind the scenes making of the movie. It is a great movie to watch and I highly recommend it
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