In 1967, Israel was miraculously saved from warring Arab nations on all sides, and this weekend in Hollywood’s only widely released debut movie, well-known actor Ray Liotta will proclaim that Israel’s fate has “everything” to do with Christians in America.
Liotta, perhaps best known for the films “Goodfellas” and “Field of Dreams” and an Emmy Award-winning performance on TV’s “ER,” plays in “The Identical” the part of Reece Wade, a Depression-era preacher given one of two, infant, twin sons to raise as his own when the boys’ poor parents couldn’t afford both their babies. The film follows the Wade family from the 1930s through the ’70s, as both boys – unknown to one another – grow up allured by the sounds of rock ‘n’ roll.
In a video provided to WND, Yochanan Marcellino, executive producer of “The Identical,” which opens in thousands of theaters nationwide Sept. 5, explains why his mainstream movie is bringing up 1967’s Six-Day War in Israel and gives WND readers an exclusive preview of Liotta’s pivotal scene.
“‘The Identical’ is a story about miracles, it’s about your destiny, that everyone is born for a reason and has a divine purpose to fulfill,” Marcellino explains.
“When ‘The Identical’ was in production in 2012, we had no idea how serious the current conflict in Israel would be,” he continues. “With unspeakable atrocities being committed, while Jewish babies are being blown up and Christians are being beheaded all over the Internet … it is our responsibility now, as it was then, for Zion’s sake, not to be silent.”
In the scene from “The Identical” below, Liotta’s character tells his 1967 congregation why the war a world away is so important: “What does that have to do with the Christian church in the state of Tennessee? Everything! It has to do with everything! We are commanded by the Word of God to give Him no rest from our prayers. For who? Today for Israel. If we love God we must love what God loves, and God loves his chosen people!”
Watch the exclusive WND video and sneak peak from the makers of “The Identical” below:
“The Identical” also stars recognizable faces like Ashley Judd, Seth Green and Joe Pantoliano and marks the movie debut of singer/actor Blake Rayne, whose Elvis-like baritone bops and ballads through 23 original songs from the three-generation Marcellino family, a name in the music industry long associated with Motown legends such as Michael Jackson, Diana Ross and Lionel Richie.
“I’m a music guy at heart, and we basically wrote and produced the music out of our own experience living out those eras, ’50s, ’60s, ’70s,” Marcellino told WND. “It’s a wonderful film with great entertainment, but great spiritual insight, and I believe it’s going to touch people in a special way.”
Watch the trailer for “The Identical” below:
In a preview screener of the film, WND noticed “The Identical” is infused with faith themes, not just because Liotta’s character is a preacher, but also because his son is on a winding journey of trying to discern God’s call on his life, whether to follow in his father’s footsteps, or those of, ironically, his twin brother.
“You’re going to see a Judeo-Christian thread running throughout the whole film,” Marcellino confirmed. “We feel that it’s right in our wheelhouse: faith friendly, family friendly, great story, great acting – but that doesn’t make it a ‘religious’ movie.
“We didn’t set out to do a faith-based film,” he continued. “There’s a place for that, but we set out to do a film where people were really living their everyday lives, in family relationships, in encouraging your children to go down the road you think is best for them but at some point backing away and saying it’s got to be their ownership. Everyday life is not just about going to church or synagogue, but it does include our faith. It’s a normal thing, our faith, and it should be a normal part of our life.
“It’s a mainstream film,” he concluded. “It has a faith-friendly message and family-friendly message weaving through it, but that doesn’t make it religious.”
Including the scene about the Six-Day War, Marcellino explained, was simply a natural fit for the movie, its characters and the company making it.
“This is a period piece, beginning in the Great Depression and moving all the way into the 1970s,” Marcellino said. “Ray Liotta plays a pastor during those times, and in 1967 a man of God would have been very alert to when that was going down. It was the biggest news in the world at that moment, so it was important for us in that period piece to capture the Six-Day War.
“We are [also] pro-Israel as a company, City of Peace Films,” Marcellino told WND. “This is a movie about miracles, and the Six-Day War is a modern-day miracle. In ’67 Israel was surrounded by enemies wanting to eradicate them from the face of the earth, completely outnumbered, a lopsided situation. Many in Israel were preparing to die. And all of a sudden God shows up, like He did so many times throughout biblical history and He showed Himself strong for His people.
“God intervened for His people Israel, and that went very well with the theme of this movie,” Marcellino said, “being that it’s a movie about miracles and destiny and about understanding God’s call in your life.”
In fact, WND noticed, “The Identical” experienced a bit of a miracle itself, somehow poised to be the only major Hollywood film widely released on Sept. 5, a privileged position few “faith” films have ever enjoyed.
“I gotta tell you, we thank the Lord for every opportunity we have,” Marcellino told WND. “It feels like God’s divine providence has been moving in this project from the beginning.
“If you were to go back and look over last few years of weekly [Hollywood] releases, to find just one wide release on a given day is an anomaly. It doesn’t happen. And it wasn’t always that way. There were a couple of wide releases with us on that date, and they dropped off, one by one,” he continued. “Something else happened unusual, too. The box office performed very poorly over the Labor Day weekend and the weekend before. All of a sudden there’s nothing going on, no new inventory, and people have nothing new to see except ‘The Identical.’ I don’t believe it was by accident. I really believe we’re there because God wants us there, and it worked and He wants to do something special in the lives of people with this film.
“As of today,” Marcellino said, “we’re opening in over 1,500 screens, that could escalate to 2,000 by Sept. 5, and here we are, with basically an open field in front of us to touch lives, families, and encourage the hearts of people in the hour in which we live and bring a wholesome, great, family film that you can take your children, parents, grandchildren and grandparents to, a film where they can come away saying, ‘My life has been touched here in an unusual way.'”