Approved for All Ages

The Hopeful

Aboard a steamship sailing across the Atlantic Ocean in 1874, widower John Andrews delights the restless minds of his two children with a tale of courage, hope, war, and true love that begins with the end of the world.

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Dove Review

The Hopeful is a fascinating look into the past, centered around prominent church leaders in the 1840s and beyond. Two of the major theological doctrines are examined: the advent, the second coming of Christ and whether Saturday should be celebrated as the Sabbath rather than Christians worshipping on Sunday.

William Miller is one of these church leaders. A strong believer in the second coming of Christ, Miller unfortunately stepped further into the doctrine than he should have when he gave a date for Christ’s return in 1844. He trumpeted it and for people to be ready. When it didn’t happen, he came to realize that Christ’s return should be the most important teaching, not setting a date. He began to fade from the public eye following his failed prediction.

Joseph Hines was another instrumental figure in promoting a walk with Christ in North American Christian circles. Another catalyst was Joseph Bates, who was an outspoken voice in the abolitionist and temperance movements. He was a leader in the Adventist church.

Ellen and James White were united in their efforts to share the message of hope through Christ. Ellen had several visions which she believed the Lord revealed to her and, indeed, the things she saw came to pass. They remained loyal to one another until James’ death in 1872. They also lost two sons and the grief of losing a child is vividly shown at a graveside on a snowy and dreary day as Ellen hangs a pair of white baby shoes on the cross that marks the grave of her son. It is a scene that might well bring tears to the viewer’s eyes. It’s noted that the Smithsonian Institute named Ellen White as one of the 100 Most Influential Americans of all time.

Also influential in both the world at the time and in the film is John Andrews and his children, Charles and Mary. They were missionaries who shared the hope of advent around the world. Today, a statue of the Andrews family is displayed at a university in Michigan.

The acting is solid, and the clothes look very much like the period of the time. That, along with the horses in the film and period houses, gives it a believable ambiance of life in the 1800s.

Content Analysis: The fact that the Christian worldview is emphasized is commendable. The return of Christ is a doctrine just as important today as it was then, and it’s emphasized a person should be ready. There are instances of mockery about this, as one character tells a man that Christ went “that way” and then “No, he went that way.” And there is tension in the air, as it is argued when Christ will return, rather than the fact he will return. Also, keeping the sabbath is another topic, with some believers moving to Saturday as their day of worship rather than Sunday. As the King James Bible says in Romans 14:5: “One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.” This would seem to say that whether a person prefers to worship on Sunday, the first day of the week, or Saturday, he or she should follow their own conviction. As verses six to eight in this chapter reveals – whatever the case it should be as unto the Lord. This is a good discussion point for parents and their kids, with the emphasis being on meeting regularly to worship God with fellow believers.

Think About It: Doing the right thing and following one’s own heart as to how it is seen by the individual is very important. And, also, the importance of Christ returning, no matter if it is in the very near future, or still down the road a distance.

It comes down to faith. As one man says he thinks the Bible is an ancient book of fairy tales, William Miller mentions the word “faith.” In one scene, William is offered an opportunity to preach at a Baptist church and he claims he is not qualified to preach. In the next scene he is seen preaching, with his wife Lucy smiling from her pew.

In an interesting scene, some patrons at a local tavern are drinking and dancing. They have been told that Christ will return at midnight. They laugh it off. But when the bell sounds 12 times, signifying midnight, they all get quiet for several seconds, just in case. The fear of not being ready for his return is obvious. When Christ doesn’t come, they return to their revelry. This film is Dove Approved for All Ages, although it would be a difficult watch for young kids, who might not comprehend everything that is happening or being discussed.

The Dove Take: Family members can watch this film together, and they can discuss the importance of Christ’s return and being ready for the moment.

Dove Rating Details


Many examples of faith including scripture references such as the book of Daniel; people prepare for the second advent of the Lord; discussions of worshipping the Lord and when Christ will return; prayer.


A couple is loyal to one another despite tension and a disagreement; a man admits he was wrong about when Christ would return and he emphasizes the fact that he will, someday, return; discussions about what day one should worship the Lord, with people sincerely wanting to do the right thing.


A man kisses a woman on the cheek.


A couple of times “You fool!” is said to a person.




Drinking alcohol and some revelry in a tavern.




Tension between characters; disagreements over doctrine: death and grief.

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