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Fall from Grace (2007)

Not Rated | | Documentary | 10 March 2007 (USA)
The shocking story of Rev. Fred Phelps, the Westboro Baptist Church, those who oppose it, and those who chose to leave it all behind.




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Director: Chris Gentile
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Credited cast:
Bill Bunten ...
Himself, Mayor, city of Topeka
Warren Carter ...
Himself, Prof, Saint Paul School of Theology (as Dr. Warren Carter)
Kelly Franz ...
Jeff Gannon ...
Himself, Pastor
Pedro L. Irigonegaray ...
Himself (as Pedro Irigonegaray)
George E. King Jr. ...
Himself, Pastor
Ed Klump ...
Himself, Police Chief, city of Topeka
Mike 'Gunner' Minor ...
Himself, Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association
Fred Phelps ...
Jonathan Phelps ...
Sara Phelps ...
Timothy Phelps ...
Rebekah Phelps-Roper ...
Shirley Phelps-Roper ...


The first feature-length documentary to explore the hate-filled world of Rev. Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, KS. Since the mid-90s, this group has participated in nearly 25,000 anti-homosexual demonstrations around the world. With signs that say things like "God hates fags," "You're going to Hell," "Thank God for 9/11," "God hates your tears," "Thank God for dead soldiers," the small congregation of 75 members has garnered international attention, especially now that they have targeted military funerals as a venue for their picketing. 'Fall From Grace' features interviews with Rev. Phelps, other members of the church, many of its dissenters, and two members that left the church and their family behind. Written by KRJ

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Not Rated


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Release Date:

10 March 2007 (USA)  »

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$7,000 (estimated)

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Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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11 February 2011 | by (San Francisco) – See all my reviews

While there's a lot of repetition in this documentary, it's valuable primarily for it's access to the Phelps family who have no hesitation to speak their beliefs. It's often easy to dismiss bigotry as ignorance, but here we see it serves other purposes. The need to hate outwardly masks an inward deficit which permits that deficiency to go unaddressed. The filmmakers let a lot slide by: allegations of abuse, the circumstances for the Phelps' disbarment, the tax benefits of being a church when only your family are members, the misuse/misquotation of scripture to name a few.

While its useful to have the Phelps speak for themselves, those who counter their arguments aren't nearly as passionate or convincing (I agree with them, but their statements aren't developed by the filmmaker).

The two most chilling moments come from family members themselves. There are taped telephone conversations about why two of the children left their family, and the analysis of their father's "issues" seemed very accurate. And the older children who will carry forward their father's legacy are so one-dimensional in their hatred that it borders on madness.

The use of the family's placards becomes plodding and repetitious. More effective is when the grandchildren (roughly 8 or 9) are asked which signs are their favorite to carry at their pickets around the World. While most children will recite various Biblical passages as their "favorite" and would be unable to elaborate further what those passages meant, these children recite hate speech which is deeply shocking, but of course they are unable to elaborate what those slogans really mean. But I also found that their parents really couldn't do much more to explain their hatred. Their vehement denunciation of homosexuality and the government was just as lacking as their relationship to and understanding of themselves and the world at large.

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