The troubled life and ironic, tragic triumph of Samson – flawed human, epic hero, strong man, and weak-willed – hits the big screen today, February 16. The movie Samson, from Pure Flix, does justice to the biblical account of the last of Israel’s judges. It offers a graphic and stunning – and likely realistic – context that illuminates the tumult of the 1170 BC setting, the conflict between Israel and the Philistines.
Best remembered for losing his God-given strength by falling to the temptations of Delilah, Samson emerges in the film as a man of intense inner turmoil.
In addition to the biblical outline of Samson’s life, the film adds fictional characters, places, and daily life events to achieve a cohesive storyline. Fortunately, none of them lead viewers away from the Samson portrayed in God’s Word.
Samson is rated PG-13 for a few kisses and many violent scenes, mostly hand-to-hand combat, but some of it is quite graphic. Production qualities are superb. Among Samson’s producers are Brittany Yost and David A.R. White, long trusted as both actors and producers in Christian films, including the God’s Not Dead series.
Rebecca Davis, associate editor of The Stand, recently had the opportunity to talk with Yost about her work on Samson. Their interview follows:
Rebecca Davis: What led you to becoming a film producer and to your present position as director of production for Pure Flix.
Brittany Yost: In high school, I thought I was going to be a professional golfer. It was everything that I was putting my energy toward and everything that I wanted to do. But I felt God call me in a completely opposite direction; [He] literally drained the passion out of my body for golf and put it into filmmaking.
I felt God speak to me through a movie, and I just knew what I had to do, and I had to give it every ounce of my energy and my passion to make it a reality.
When I was 19, I started working for Pure Flix. I didn't go to college. That was back when Pure Flix was a little company. They were making tiny movies, straight to DVD films, and they raised me up. They raised me up into this position. So I've worked on and off for Pure Flix for about 10 years now.
RD: Speak about the power of media in a person's life and what an impact it can have on a person.
BY: Oh, that's why I love films because it's a platform that is so far-reaching both for non-Christians and Christians. It's a huge platform – one of the largest, if not the largest platform, to reach this day and age, [both] youth and adults.
God can speak through films. He definitely did to me. Both the God's Not Dead type movies and then films like Lord of the Rings, there are messages deep within every single movie. And if you are a believer [in the industry], what's so cool is that we have the opportunity to bury [within a film] all of these profound messages of truth to speak to an audience.
Jesus taught through stories and parables, and what we get to do is basically follow suit of how Jesus taught His people.
RD: So why a movie about Samson?
BY: It was a combination of events. When I was making God's Not Dead 2, my second assistant director Ian Campbell, who ended up being a co-producer on Samson, presented me the script for Samson that his friends, Zach Smith and Jason Baumgardner, had written. They did such a phenomenal job with it that we purchased the script from them.
[Plus] we just felt it was the right time. This is a time where people go to the theaters to see superheroes, and Samson is an original superhero – just the Bible's version of it. However, [his story] ends more in a tragedy instead of a happy ending. But in the midst of the tragedy, we wanted to show truth and hope.
RD: What do you hope to accomplish through this film?
BY: Samson is super disobedient and definitely breaks his vows and loses his strength, but in the midst of his disobedience and his rebellion against God, God forgives him, loves on him, and still uses Samson for His glory.
I'm a sinner. I need the constant reminder that God is all-forgiving and all-loving, and there is nothing that can separate us from Him; Samson is the perfect example of that.
RD: What is your response to those who question the creative liberties you took with the film?
BY: We were passionate about maintaining the integrity of Scripture. So, for us, it was important to research every detail that we could about what actually happened, including Samson's mother's name. Zealphonis was his mother's name, and that's what we used in the film.
But since there is so little told about Samson [in Scripture], there are a ton of creative liberties we had to take, but we took them [under the guidance of] theologians and biblical scholars who were chiming in on the making of this project and [who were also intent] on maintaining the integrity of Scripture.
RD: How were you personally impacted by your work on Samson?
BY: For me, it brought to life why Christ came and saved humanity. [The Old Testament] is just story after story after story of brokenness and of God redeeming people or judging people. More than half of the entire Bible contains accounts of rebellion and disobedience and violence, and yet God still loves us and still forgives us and still is so gracious in the midst of our brokenness. It just made it all make sense to me.
Learn more, find a theater near you, and purchase tickets at samson.movie.