The movie begins with stunning shots of the Holy City and leads to the main idea of a mass that will take place in Jesus Christ's burial ground. The sensitivity of the topic makes it clear that the production must have been challenging. On one hand, the producer has to introduce a city unknown to most audiences, and on the other hand, he has to deal with a religious matter that poses specific dangers and difficulties.
At the outset, the filmmaker captures the city's beauty with rare footages of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, which immediately grabs the audience's attention. Then, he includes interviews with people who have been to the Holy City, highlighting the humanistic picture of the pilgrimage. The audience witnesses people talking about their personal emotions, hopes, wishes, fears, doubts, and sadness. Those who speak of faith.
The director, Greg Di Rama, who is also one of the three cinematographers, uses various times and places to give a vivid tone to the documentary. He includes shots of the Holy City's streets, bazaars, and places that complete the picture pilgrims talk about. Several people talk about the meaning of the Holy City in their lives. For some, this pilgrimage is their last chance for presence in a place where Jesus Christ once lived in. For others, it was a way of improving their spiritual connection with God.
Documentaries can be divided into two categories. Documentaries with critical tone towards the topic and are going to desacralize the subject in various ways, and documentaries going through a path motivated by religious faith. This particular documentary falls into the second category of documentaries motivated by religious faith. The filmmaker is not afraid to show off his religious beliefs and sits in front of the camera like other interviewees to speak of his pilgrimage commencement. However, he knows that dealing with the topic unilaterally can be contrary to the main purpose and provoke adverse reactions from the audience.
Therefore, by constructing a multi-voiced and multilateral account from the start, the filmmaker tries to build and form a trustful and acceptable path. The presence of various characters, places, and forms of the narrative makes the movie feel less long and protracted.
The movie includes stunning points for documentary-making enthusiasts, such as how to prevent audience boredom in a long documentary focused on a single topic. Di Rama offers solutions for this problem by introducing various characters from the outset who advance several chapters of the movie and take it to the end.
Frequent showing of the characters is a proper way of acquainting audiences with them and inducing a sense of familiarity. Introducing new characters in the middle of the movie is not suggested, as it can make the audience feel uncomfortable and give up watching it to the end. By introducing characters from the very beginning, audiences will sympathize with them and continue watching.
The second feature is using places that reveal their perspectives and features over time. For a long documentary, staying in a specified setting for a long time is disastrous and can soon end up with losing rhythm. In this movie, we are exposed to a movement between different settings, such as the city, the church, the gulf, road, bazar and interior sets in each interview, and Di Rama knows how to narrate his intention in such a path.
This movie, much like classic documentaries, is articulated thematically and structurally. At first, there’s a setup, and in the introduction, introduces characters and places. Then, by extending the themes planted in the first chapters, goes to the next level, that is proposing the issue. Afterwards, in central chapters, looks at the issue from new perspectives and in the last chapters, as the emotions soar up, the narrative is concluded.
Making such a documentary requires field study, precise planning, extensive cinematography, and more importantly, detailed and considered post-production. In this movie, the filmmaker has used the available material well and properly, resulting in a spectacular and absorbing documentary.