The Cross: The Arthur Blessitt Story -- Film Review

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Of the many wacky entries in the Guinness Book of World Records, one of the most intriguing is the one concerning the "world's longest walk." The record belongs to Arthur Blessitt, who has managed to traverse some 38,102 miles, walking through every inhabited area on Earth and no fewer than 52 war zones in the process.

And he did it all carrying a 12-foot wooden cross.

If you haven't guessed, Blessitt has a particularly close relationship with Jesus, whose message he felt compelled to deliver via his own unique way. Said message is also frequently and forcefully delivered in Matthew Crouch's documentary about the subject, "The Cross: The Arthur Blessitt Story," opening Friday in more than 200 theaters nationwide.

Now 68, Blessitt began his quest in the late 1960s, when he had been ministering to the down and out on Los Angeles' Sunset Strip. Receiving a calling that not even the diagnosis of a brain aneurysm could deter, he spent the next four decades traveling the globe, encountering presidents, popes and figures like Yasser Arafat along the way.

Narrated by Crouch, the film concentrates exclusively on its wandering subject, who is the only figure interviewed. The results are ultimately less than informative. Although Blessitt is highly engaging and has plenty of both heartwarming and scary stories to tell about his experiences -- he was arrested in Mississippi and physically attacked in Spain, for instance -- his relentless proselytizing will prove wearying even to the already converted.

Although archival footage of his travels in various exotic locales is dutifully included, we learn precious little about the background and mechanics of his venture. Nor do we hear from anyone else who might have a slightly different view of the worthiness of his mission.

Ultimately, the film is quite literally preaching to the choir, badly missing the opportunity to provide the sort of depth or resonance that say, "Man on Wire" -- another story of one man's obsession -- did so skillfully and poetically.

Opens: Friday, March 27 (Gener8Xion Entertainment)

Director: Matthew Crouch
Screenwriter-editor: Stephan Blinn
Producers: Matthew Crouch, Laurie Crouch, Richard Cook, Stephan Blinn
Executive producer: Jack Hunter
Music: Matthew R. Long
Rated PG, 93 minutes