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The Blind

MOVIE | Biopic tells Phil Robertson’s prodigal story in honest, gospel-centered strokes

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<em>The Blind</em>
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Rated PG-13

Phil Robertson is the outspoken head of the Duck Dynasty reality-­show family: always ready to defend Christian traditional values with old-fashioned common sense in a laid-back, straightforward manner. But in The Blind, a dramatization of Robertson’s life, audiences will see a very different version of a younger Phil—a hard-drinking, depressed, angry man, whose life spiraled into the depths.

The movie opens in a duck blind with two hunters watching and waiting. One man, formerly blind, tells his life story to the other, who is still blind. As Robertson reminisces, audiences see his tale unfold.

Robertson grew up dirt poor, with his father often absent and his mother given to bouts of insanity. Despite a rocky beginning, he finds a good path, with a football scholarship and a good woman named Kay by his side.

Married and with three young sons, Phil falls in with the wrong crowd, drinking heavily, even during the workday. Drunk Phil gets violent, angry, and harsh; he has no time for his children, and his wife becomes an irritant, nagging at him to change his ways. One rainy night, he has had enough and forces Kay to leave with their three boys. With no one to hold him to account, Phil descends further into drunken ­darkness and anger.

After a period of despair, Kay is led to the Lord by Pastor Smith, a kind, soft-spoken, but determined preacher. Hollywood often portrays ministers as larger than life, with secret sins to uncover, but Pastor Smith is quiet, humble, and straightforward.

Living alone, Phil hits rock ­bottom. One scene is reminiscent of the prodigal son: Robertson is down in the mud, having thrown away all that he had. He’s finally ready to change, or more accurately, to be changed. The simple gospel message Pastor Smith brings to the wretch’s wretched Airstream trailer finds a receptive heart. Patting his Bible, the pastor says: “This story is different. It’s not about you climbing the mountain. But God comes down from the mountain to you and saves you.” Robertson’s baptism in a muddy Louisiana river, with just his wife and kids and the pastor in attendance, is a beautiful scene—not glamorized or glorified, no white robes or a swaying choir, just the water of baptism washing away the sins of a repentant man.

In promotional material for the film, Robertson admits shame in seeing his sad former life up on the big screen. Through his willingness to show his former depravity, Robertson shares the power of the gospel of Jesus to save sinners, a story that many know, but that is new again—and wondrous again—every time.

Marty VanDriel Marty is a TV and film critic for WORLD. He is a graduate of World Journalism Institute and CEO of a custom truck and trailer building company. He and his wife, Faith, reside in Lynden, Wash., near children and grandchildren.


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