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1946: The Mistranslation that Shifted Culture - BFI Flare

average rating is 4 out of 5

Critic:

Amber Jackson

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Posted on:

Mar 18, 2023

Film Reviews
1946: The Mistranslation that Shifted Culture - BFI Flare
Directed by:
Sharon Roggio
Written by:
Jill Woodward and Jena Serbu
Starring:
Sharon Roggio, Kathy Baldock, Ed Oxford

‘Research into recent interpretation of the Bible results in a re-evaluation of the traditional prohibitions on gay sex.’

 

Trigger warning: Religious and parental trauma, references to suicide.

 

The main argument for homophobia, especially in the United States, is that ‘the Bible says it is wrong’ - but what if that was never the intention? These are the questions asked in this hard-hitting documentary 1946: The Mistranslation that Shifted Culture. Directed by Sharon Roggio, this film features Christians Kathy Baldock and Ed Oxford who make a ground-breaking discovery that the word ‘homosexual’ first appears in the Bible as late as 1946. From this, they seek to uncover the truth behind this translation of the text and unearth plenty more shocking truths along the way. This is a documentary that tackles massive differences of personal and religious opinion, alongside Christians and activists seeking to change hearts and minds within the Church.

 

Kathy Baldock and Ed Oxford and others within this film seek to uncover the truth behind the apparent mistranslation of ‘homosexual’ in the Bible in the United States. There is a clear conflict between sexuality and scripture woven into the framework of the documentary, as it recognises LGBTQ+ Christians’ daily struggle for acceptance. They love God and the Church, but also wrestle with their own thoughts and feelings concerning sexual orientation. The film effectively explores feelings of disconnect that religious LGBTQ+ people experience everyday with personal testimony and real experience. Whilst the film shares mostly white experiences, a queer Native American anecdotal perspective is shared, as well as a plethora of different scholars and professors commenting on the implications of translated Bible passages and the effect on queer people. This documentary seeks to reach everyone, irrespective of their identity and faith.

 

Roggio’s documentary style is very raw and contains plenty of archive footage and videos and photos from her childhood, as well as animated drawings to bring history back to life. As well as Baldock and Oxford sharing their personal anecdotes, Roggio shares her private family experience growing up gay with her minister father whole-heartedly believing that homosexuality is a sin against God. She shares a heart-breaking reality for many LGBTQ+ people in America and across the world who are not only accepted by their family, but also feel unwelcome in their churches. Roggio successfully conveys a powerful loss of community and sanctuary that queer Christians experience when they are rejected by the Church that cannot be replicated. Whilst it is a deeply sad narrative, Roggio seeks to use her work to ultimately offer hope and kinship to her audience.

 

Speaking on the alleged mistranslation, Baldock and Oxford examine the ideologies and Whilst linguistic powers behind Corinthians 6:9-10 in the Bible. These undefined Greek words and confusion leads them to find Reverend David S. Fearon, the gay man who originally discovered the mistranslation and wrote to the translators to correct them. His academic journey is also explored in the film, as well as his recognition that the word ‘homosexual’ would have plenty of social implications and Biblical reprints. Roggio does an excellent job at handling public opinion and politics within the context of LGBTQ+ communities. The film posits how major socio-historical events weaponised LGBTQ+ people and ultimately created irreversible damage, which is not only engaging, but also very thought-provoking to watch.

 

Through this work, Sharon Roggio and those within the film display true strength in exploring personal testimony and trauma on camera. In sharing plenty of differing religious and social beliefs, the film highlights how the fight for acceptance is still not over as LGBTQ+ people are still being persecuted for their identities, with religion often being used as the main argument. Despite not having a clear outlook on the future, those within the film speak only to hope for change for future generations through solidarity. What is clear is that queer people can and should be able to practice their chosen faith and the film’s message is as beautiful as it is powerful.

 

This is a fantastic documentary that recognises the need to break a cycle of generational trauma for LGBTQ+ Christians in the United States. In doing this, it aims to provide LGBTQ+ Christians a sense of peace and community. It is insightful and educational and well worth watching.

 

To find out more about The Stroll and other films featured at BFI Flare 2023, see the BFI website or read more of our BFI Flare coverage at www.ukfilmreview.co.uk

About the Film Critic
Amber Jackson
Amber Jackson
Documentary, World Cinema, LGBTQ+, Film Festival
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