Walking into a movie that stars the Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu and Mark Whalberg, I was fully prepared to feel enlightened or at least inspired. However, 90 minutes later, I walked away feeling slightly unimpressed and mostly unaffected. Emmanuel Itier’s The Invocation was promoted as a documentary about the “search for God” and a study of God around the world. The film is split in to three sections organizing the process on how to achieve world peace and find God. Each piece of the film consists of numerous interviews with religious figures, major organizations and everyday people on their thoughts about God, religion and how to find peace in this world.
It took five years, 20 countries, 300 interviews and 500 hours of footage to complete the film, with Itier flying all over the world with his camera crew to capture it all.
While this film gets an ‘A’ for effort, the movie itself was, for the most part, lacking in impact. Itier interviewed hundreds of religious people and asked them profound questions regarding spirituality and the existence of God. Despite the hard work, the final product contained nothing different than other religious films or books.
Possibly the most humorous, but unnecessary, aspect of the movie was the puppet used during the transition between the sections. Alone, a turbanclad puppet named “Puppetiji” speaking about philosophy and peace might be amusing, but when featured in a documentary on the quest for God, it just seemed wildly out of place.
The film had some good moments, however. The most interesting part of the film was during the last section, entitled “Invoking Peace.” Itier posed the question, “Who has the exclusive right to God?” The general response, whether it was from Tutu, the Vatican or the Church of Satan was that the only way to find world peace would be through finding a middle ground between all of the religions, especially in regard to whose God is the “true” God.
Following that segment was more of the campy religious music that played in the background throughout the movie. Itier showed several more beautiful images from his journey around the world that seemed to be randomly edited together when the movie finally ended.
Despite its lack of impact, it is clear that Itier had expended a great amount of effort to obtain all of the interview footage, but even the words of wisdom coming from the great religious leaders of today could not overcome the poor editing and superfluous use of puppets. It was a good attempt, but overall The Invocation failed to invoke anything that had not been heard, done or seen before.