A young slave girl, Anna, is rescued and adopted by Christians in second-century Smyrna and befriended by their aged bishop, Polycarp. As Anna is taught by Polycarp and her new family, she struggles to reconcile her beliefs with those of the Christians. When the Roman proconsul demands that all citizens worship Caesar to show their allegiance to Rome, Polycarp and the Christians must find courage to stand for their faith against the growing threat of persecution. Anna is forced to come to grips with the truth and choose whom she is willing to live—and die—for.
“Polycarp” is an inspiring movie with a sweeping score that will play well to modern audiences. This is largely due to director Joe Henline’s ability to build relationships between the characters that feel contemporary. The moments between Anna (Eliya Hurt) and her adoptive mother Melina (Ilse Apestegui), and Anna and her adoptive brother Germanicus (Rusty Martin), speaks of family in a way most viewers will relate to. They have loving and playful moments, and it is obvious they care for one another. The film is inspired by the book “Polycarp: Destroyer of Our Gods” by Rick Lambert.
Garry Nation gives a compelling performance as Polycarp, a man both humble and confident in his position as a teacher and follower of Jesus. Polycarp was a second-century Church Father and prominent in the lives of his fellow Christians as pastor of the church in Smyrna. He was born a slave and bought as a young boy, but raised by a godly woman in Ephesus. Polycarp was a disciple of John the Apostle and became, along with several other Christians, leaders in the church following the death of the Apostles.
The movie focuses on Anna being bought from the slave market and placed in a Christian home. She does not know what to think about this God and the Jesus she is taught about. The Roman government places a great burden on the early church to worship Caesar, and it becomes evident that Polycarp is viewed as their biggest target. They plan to capture him and kill him. We see him refuse to renounce his faith.
The film mentions that a young man “ran to meet the lions” when he faced death for his faith, a statement that speaks to the depth of commitment of the Christians. In one scene Polycarp tells a young man that they should pray because “He wants to hear from you.” This devotional movie is well executed and gives a poignant view of this strong man of faith.
“Polycarp” is not intended for very young viewers, but it should be seen by families of all ages. Therefore we are awarding “Polycarp” our “Faith-Friendly” Seal for all ages and urge parents to check our content listing to make an informed decision. This movie is inspirational and biographical, and could be used as a teaching tool in Christian education.