“The Shack” is an upcoming “faith-based” film directed by Stuart Hazeldine and written by John Fusco, based on the 2007 novel of same name by William P. Young. In case you haven’t been paying attention, “faith-based” films are popular right now, serving a seemingly previously ignored chunk of the movie-going audience.
The film stars Sam Worthington and Octavia Spencer, and follows a character named Mackenzie Allen Philips who, after suffering a devastating personal tragedy, receives a mysterious note from God in his mailbox inviting him to a place called The Shack. He visits the shack where he actually does meet God, which begins a life-transforming journey of redemption.
The book was published in 2007 and went on to become a global bestseller, selling over 18 million copies in 39 languages.
Long-time readers of this blog will remember that, way back in 2008, I profiled the novel, after I stumbled across a write-up for it, while skimming through archived pages of the New York Times online. It included the following sentence: “Mr. Nowak, a maintenance worker near Yakima, Wash., first bought a copy of ‘The Shack,’ a slim paperback novel by an unknown author about a grieving father who meets God in the form of a jolly African American woman, at a Borders bookstore in March…”
Needless to say, I kept reading.
A longer breakdown of the book, which gives a little more about its story, via its sales page on Amazon, describes “The Shack” as: “… a Christian-themed novel about a character by the name of Mackenzie Allen Philips, whose youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation and may have been brutally murdered. Four years later, Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that shack for a weekend. Against his better judgment he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he finds there will change Mack’s world forever. You’ll want everyone you know to read this book!”
The author, William P. Young, a 55-year old white man by the way, said in the New York Times article, he chose to make God an African American woman because he wanted to alter religious preconceptions, stating, “It was just a way of saying: ‘You know what? I don’t believe that God is Gandalf with an attitude, or Zeus who wants to blast you with any imperfection that you exhibit.’”
After reading the entire piece, I thought about how many times I’d seen God portrayed as an African American woman in previous films, but I couldn’t immediately think of any.
Needless to say, Octavia Spencer is playing “God” in the film; although, in the credits, the character’s name is listed as “Papa.”
Radha Mitchell, and Tim McGraw co-star.
Forest Whitaker was once attached to direct and star in the film.
Summit Entertainment/Lionsgate will release the film in March 2017 (it was originally set for a November 18, 2016 release). A first trailer has premiered and is embedded below. And if you’d like to buy a copy of the book, “The Shack,” click on the image after the trailer that follows.