Reviews: family entertainment, documentaries, resources, books, music
AFA Staff
AFA Staff
AFA Journal staff reviews movies, books and other resources

September 2005 – 1959 epic masterpiece remastered for home video  
QUICK CUT: Old story, new look. Better than ever.
The Academy Award-winning Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ will debut September 13, 2005, as a four-disc collector’s edition DVD from Warner Home Video. The 1959 motion picture that won 11 Oscars was remastered from the original 65mm film to an enhanced version that includes more than 10 hours of bonus features. 

The epic masterpiece comes to life with 100,000 costumes, 8,000 extras and 300 sets all used to tell the story of a Jewish nobleman named Judah Ben-Hur (Charlton Heston) who discovers redemption by forsaking the sword for Christ.

Based on Lew Wallace’s best-selling novel and coined by many as one of the most accomplished Biblical-era epics ever made, Ben-Hur is being repackaged to appeal to audiences of all ages. Discs One and Two contain the restored movie in Dolby Digital 5.1 Audio as well as commentary by Heston and film historian T. Gene Hatcher. In addition, there is a music-only track that showcases the movie’s musical score.

Disc Three consists of the 1925 silent version with the stereophonic orchestral score by composer Carl Davis. 

Disc Four completes the set with special features that include but are not limited to a theatrical trailer gallery, highlights from the 1960 Academy Awards ceremony and screen tests. It also includes comments from contemporary filmmakers Ridley Scott and George Lucas regarding the film’s impact on cinema. 

The four-disc DVD set will be available for $39.92 in Christian retail stores and wherever DVDs are sold. 

Also available for purchase, although unrelated to the new collector’s edition, is an 80-minute animated version titled Ben-Hur released in 2003 by GoodTimes Entertainment. Featuring the voice of Heston, it, too, is an adaptation of Wallace’s 1880 classic novel. It is available on DVD in retail stores nationwide.

The Adventures of Ociee Nash 
Charismatic and warm.
From rural Mississippi to refined North Carolina, nine-year-old Ociee Nash exhibits the spirit of life as she embarks on her personal journey of becoming a young lady. This coming-of-age story is complicated by Ociee’s tom-boyish, fun-loving nature which ends up being a prime example of character, bravery and love to all that cross her path.

Although Ociee adores the path her life leads through the rugged Mississippi landscape, her widowed father is convinced she needs a female role model – something he nor her brothers can be for her. So he boards Ociee on a train to North Carolina where she is to be raised by her aunt – the essence of a southern woman. Along the way, history unfolds as Ociee meets heroes such as the U.S. President, the Wright Brothers and Nellie Bly and soon proves that she, too, is cable of such greatness in this upbeat, spirit-lifting film appropriate for the whole family. 

It is important to note that there are two uses of “Lord” in a vain manner and repeated mild uses of “darn” in a way that young children are likely to repeat. In addition, there are two references of lying to parental figures and one background image of a palm reading sign. However, these questionable elements are balanced by a strong pro-family message of love, faith, hope and friendship. In addition, the Dove Foundation gave the film its “Family Approved” seal of acceptance for children of all ages.

The movie is based on the award-winning novel, A Flower Blooms on Charlotte Street and was set to debut August 23, 2005, on DVD and VHS from Fox Home Entertainment. The DVD contains special features and can be viewed with English and Spanish subtitles. It is available in retail stores and Christian bookstores nationwide.

Bugtime Adventures
Quick Cut: 
Bible lessons buzz through use of parallel story-telling
Lightning Bug Flix and Willowcreek Marketing are all aflutter about their recent release of the first two episodes of a 13-part animated series titled, Bugtime Adventures. The series blends the “giant” world of humans with the tiny world of insects to deliver a captivating and entertaining message of Biblical truth.  

Set at the feet of Bible characters, the citizens of Buggelsville get caught up in the action of the “Giants” and gain the insight and inspiration needed to resolve a similar crisis in their own little world. By paralleling the bug stories with the Bible stories, children are able to make a connection and apply Scriptural truths to their everyday lives.

The first episode, “Blessing in Disguise,” teaches children about the importance of forgiveness through the life of Joseph, who was sold into slavery by his own brothers.

A lesson of faith and courage follows in the second episode, titled “A Giant Problem,” which highlights the devoted life of David, who fights the Philistine giant, Goliath. 

The first two episodes are now available in Christian bookstores nationwide with the third and fourth episodes set to release this fall as two new episodes follow every three months. An interactive Web site,, accompanies the series and a 32-page comic book complements the first episode. Additional games and activities are included as bonus features on each DVD.

The Story of Jesus for Children
Quick Cut: Dated production kept young with child-like faith
International Films makes the life of Jesus Christ real to children of all ages in its 1979 adaptation of The Jesus Film Project. The Story of Jesus for Children follows His earthly reign through the eyes of six fictitious youngsters living in Jerusalem around A.D. 30. 

They struggle to make sense of this man, so they spend much of their time following Him, anticipating His every move. The children see Jesus loving the unlovable, healing the sick, raising the dead and feeding the 5,000 – among other miracles. In addition, they see Him betrayed, crucified and resurrected. 

After encountering Jesus firsthand, the children realize that He really is the Messiah, the Son of the Living God, and they explain to viewers the importance of having a personal relationship with Him. In the end, viewers are presented with a direct salvation invitation. 

This 62-minute evangelistic tool, distributed by Campus Crusade for Christ International, is adapted from the Gospel of Luke and begins with the birth of Christ and ends with His resurrection. Characters speak in conversational dialogue using language easily understood by children. It is designed to be used at home as well as for Sunday School, homeschool, after-school clubs and children’s parties. Although dated in its theatrical appeal, the movie sends a timeless message.

It is available for purchase in 16 different languages on DVD and VHS at or by calling 1-800-432-1997.

Agent Abbey
Quick Cut: Low budget docudrama reveals persecution of Chinese church
A typical American teenager’s world is turned upside down when she accompanies her father, a photojournalist, on an assignment in China where she experiences the reality of Christian persecution for the first time.

Abbey, a church-going, fun-loving 16-year-old, is shocked to find out that the faith of her Chinese friends is top secret in this country where Christianity is unaccepted.  As a result, she quickly becomes caught up in a plot that involves her new Christian friends, a mysterious secret agent, illegal Bibles and the police. Out of desperation to undo a mess she inadvertently causes, Abbey embarks on a mission of her own and vows to carry the message of the persecuted church in China back to Christians in America. 

The 30-minute drama, a Stephen Yake production from The Voice of the Martyrs and distributed by Vision Video, is based on actual events and was filmed on location in China and Taiwan. Rather than an engaging movie, it appears to be more of a documentary weakened by scripted dialogue and unprofessional acting. 

However, the message is clear and reveals not only the harsh realities of being a Christian in a restricted nation but also the common ignorance of Christians in the free world. 

Agent Abbey is an eye-opening resource for Christians and is available for purchase on DVD and VHS (English and Spanish) by calling Vision Video at 1-800-523-0226.