"Journey To Jamaa" Review: A Short Movie To Make You Count Your Blessings
Posted by Jason McIntire | Mar 05, 2013
I can read and write. I have shoes. I live in a sturdy house, with air conditioning in the summer and heat in the winter. Our area has good laws and good law enforcement. There are no epidemic contagious diseases here. Most of all, our family knows and shares the Love of Jesus. Human nature being what it is, I find it all too easy to take these most basic blessings for granted. That's one reason I appreciate movies like Journey To Jamaa, a film about two real children in Uganda and their search for a home.
The main characters are 11-year-old Derick and his 7-year-old sister Margaret, masterfully portrayed by two talented child actors. The production quality is first-rate. Some movies just "make you feel it," and Journey To Jamaa is one of them. It was all filmed on location in Uganda, including the actual slum where the real Derick and Margaret lived. You can almost smell the nauseating atmosphere.
Journey To Jamaa is only forty minutes long, and I felt this was about right. Though the ending is positive, the movie is about real events, and as such it is quite intense at times. It reminded me strongly of The Rabbit-Proof Fence, a secular flick with a similar plot (and no redeeming message). But where Rabbit-Proof Fence dragged on and on for about the length of Australia, Jamaa ends when it should - yet has so much substance that I feel like I've watched a full-length feature.
The movie was directed by Michael Landon, Jr. Though a professing Christian himself, Landon is also a career Hollywood director, so I was not expecting much in the way of an overt Gospel message. Good works and fuzzy warm feelings are more the norm for mainstream "inspirational" films. I was quite surprised, then, to hear the Name of Jesus mentioned several times, and specific Scriptures quoted.
I also liked the way the movie emphasizes that people should help their own neighbors, and not just rely on foreign aid. This is brought out naturally in a conversation between two of the adult Ugandan characters.
Even if you don't normally watch making-of featurettes, I highly recommend the one on Journey To Jamaa. You get to see the actual Derick and Margaret, who were present for the filming, and learn some very interesting facts about how the movie was made.
One of the most poignant moments in Jamaa comes in the first scene, when Margaret angrily tells her brother: "That girl keeps riding her scooter back and forth, trying to make me jealous." The "scooter" she is referring to consists of two or three rough wood slats and some creaky furniture casters. Like I said, this movie will make you count your blessings.
Young Audience Caution
While this might be a good film for children 13 and older, I would suggest you watch it with them as there are some disturbing parts. The little girl in the story has a recurring nightmare that takes place underwater, and an orphan they meet tells them in grisly detail how his parents and sister died. In case you want to skip or mute these sections, here are the times on your DVD counter:
- 6:50 - 6:56 (first nightmare).
- 15:00 - 15:20 (gruesome account of murder).
- 16:13 - 16:52 (second nightmare, this one involving the driver of the truck they're riding in).