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Film / Left Behind (2000)

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Left Behind: The Movie is a 2000 film based on the first book of the Left Behind series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, which was directed by Vic Sarin and produced by Cloud Ten Pictures.

The film stars the former Growing Pains actor Kirk Cameron in the role of television news anchor Buck Williams as he and airline pilot Rayford Steele witness the Rapture taking place on a flight to London. Shortly after, The Antichrist Nicolae Carpathia appears on the scene to take over the United Nations and reform it into a one-world government, making a deal with Israel that would usher in the seven-year Tribulation period.

The film took an unorthodox approach of being released on video before it came to the theaters. It was followed by two others in the series, Left Behind II: Tribulation Force (2002) and Left Behind: World At War (2005), both of which are adaptations of the second book.

For the reboot film featuring Nicolas Cage, see Left Behind (2014).

The film series provides examples of:

  • Adaptational Badass: Jonathan Stonagal is made to be more sinister in the film adaptation of the first book than he originally was.
  • Adaptational Nationality: Dirk Burton and Alan Tompkins, both Brits, are made Americans in the first film, with Alan Tompkins also getting a Race Lift.
  • Adaptation Distillation: The first movie makes the opening attack less of a non-event (by condensing the amount of time between it and the Rapture), plays up the mystery in the first half, puts Buck in a position where he has a lot more influence over the nation, and streamlines the book's rather ping-pong opening sequence. That said, it's still not well-liked. It also replaces Buck's cowardly agreement with Carpathia to bury his story about Stonagal with Carpathia using the release to remove a competitor and cement his power, making Buck and Stonagal's part of the story actually relevant in this version.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Blond-haired Buck Williams, Chloe Steele, and Nicolae Carpathia in the books get darker hair in the films.
  • Alphabet News Network: Global News Network.
  • Bald of Authority: Louis Gosset, Jr. as President Gerald Fitzhugh in Left Behind: World At War.
  • Black Boss Lady: In the film series, Verna Zee filled the role of Buck Williams' boss, being a Composite Character version of herself and Lucinda Washington.
  • Captain Ersatz: In the film series, Ivy Gold is one for Global Weekly secretary Alice Nelson, who also gets confused for being Buck Williams' secret fiancee.
  • Car Cushion: Double Subverted in the third movie World At War. The Antichrist throws the President out of a skyscraper, and he crashes onto a car below. Nicolae looks down and sees the President's seemingly lifeless body... only for the poor guy to get up and start hobbling away. Nicolae muses "Such a thing is not humanly possible...", then glances upward at the most likely culprit.
  • The Cameo: In the films, Christian music artists Bob Carlisle and Rebecca St. James appear as Global News Network studio workers, while the Christian music band Jake appears as United Nations security guards along with Clay Crosse. There's also John and Diana Hagee as well as Jack and Rexella Van Impe who appear as passengers on board Rayford's plane that have vanished, and T.D. Jakes who appears as Vernon Billings.
  • Composite Character: In Left Behind II: Trbiulation Force, Verna Zee is the composite of her original character with Lucinda Washington, the African-American editor-in-chief of the Global Weekly office in Chicago who was raptured. For the most part, movie Verna is book Verna's personality in Lucinda's body (or a version of Lucinda that never became a believer).
  • Computer Equals Monitor: In the first movie, Buck Williams is busy in Dirk Burton's apartment, searching for important files and names, when he sees a sniper's laser sight appearing on the screen and ducks, causing the sniper to miss and hit the monitor, thereby destroying the computer.
  • Cut Short: The Peter and Paul LaLonde 2000-2005 film series ended with only three movies made from two of the books.
  • I Call It "Vera": In the 2000 Left Behind movie, Chaim Rosenzweig's super fertilizer is known as The Eden project.
  • Dull Surprise: The movies are famous for it. If Buck isn't talking, Kirk Cameron isn't acting.
  • Evil Overlooker: Faintly in the background of Tribulation Force, Nicolae Carpathia's eyes are just barely visible.
  • Finger-Tenting:
    • As seen in promotional shots for the movie, Gordon Currie does this.
    • In the first movie, Joshua Cothran can be seen wandering in the background doing it. Carpathia has the pose at the end of the second but it's more stress from a very disappointing night. He still practices it in the third.
  • Improbable Antidote: The wine used for the communion shared by Rayford, Buck, and Chloe near the end of Left Behind: World At War becomes an antidote for the anthrax poisoning contracted by both Bruce and Chloe. Unfortunately, they don't find this out until after Bruce passes away.
  • Inconvenient Summons: The Rapture itself could be considered this, as Christians are pulled out of whatever they were doing at that moment to be with the Lord, and in certain cases inadvertently putting other people into danger, such as in the first movie when Chloe stops her vehicle to find that a tractor trailer truck with its Christian driver disappearing from its cab has caused a multiple-vehicle accident.
  • Movie Multipack: Left Behind II: Tribulation Force and Left Behind: World At War, filmed and released three years apart, both cover the second book in the main series, with Left Behind II covering the first half of the book (focusing on meeting with Tsion Ben-Judah) and World At War covering the second half (focusing on Gerald Fitzhugh and the coming World War III).
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Nicolae Carpathia's plan to kill people by having them read Bibles tainted with anthrax in Left Behind: World At War may end up working against him, given that the readers could be led to their own salvation before they die.
  • No One Could Survive That!: Gerald Fitzhugh survives a plunge from a high-rise office in Left Behind: World At War.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • In the first Left Behind movie, the look on Buck and Chaim's faces when Russia sneak attacks Israel.
    • In the third Left Behind film, the look on Carpathia's face when he sees an incoming missile heading for his tower. Fitzhugh dies, but Carpathia survives.
  • Oddly Named Sequel 2: Electric Boogaloo: Left Behind: World At War, the third movie in the original series, was like this because it was only the second half of the second book while Left Behind II: Tribulation Force was the first half.
  • Product Placement: The Antichrist Nicolae Carpathia uses an Apple MacBook with the company logo visibly shown in the first film.
  • Race Lift: Alan Tompkins, Bruce Barnes, Vernon Billings, and Gerald Fitzhugh were Caucasian in the novels while in the movies all four men were African-American. Also Verna Zee, a Caucasian, became black, and likely a case of Composite Character (Verna with Lucinda Washington).
  • Rage Against the Reflection: In the adaptation of the first book, Rayford Steele throws his wife's Bible at the mirror in their bedroom, although this is more how angry Rayford is at God for his wife being Caught Up in the Rapture than anything that he sees in himself.
  • Second Coming: If the Rapture's taking place, you can bet that Jesus' second coming isn't far off.
  • Shrine to the Fallen: In Left Behind II: Tribulation Force, there are public shrines with pictures of children who have disappeared due to the Rapture.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Rayford's co-pilot Christopher Smith, who committed suicide after finding out his wife died and his children were taken up in the Rapture in the first book, ended up becoming a Christian in the film series.
    • ...though not for long, as he dies towards the beginning of the third film.
  • Taking You with Me: Near the end of Left Behind: World At War, President Gerald Fitzhugh attempts to take down Nicolae Carpathia by having a missile being fired directly toward him while he was meeting Carpathia in his office. Unfortunately, Carpathia survives.
  • Title: The Adaptation: The first movie in the series is called Left Behind: The Movie.
  • Translator Microbes: In the first movie, Buck hears a message straight from Daniel chapter 9 in his own language from a mysterious robed stranger (possibly one of the two witnesses) and records it on videotape, only to play it back later and find out that the person was actually speaking in Hebrew. God's supernatural hand, most likely.
  • Villainous Breakdown: After Tsion Ben-Judah's broadcast fails to name him as the Messiah, and he fails to actually call it off — Carpathia apparently sits there all night, then freaks and starts throwing things around the room before yelling some of his frustration at God.
  • Wartime Wedding: If you count the seven-year Tribulation period as a war, then the dual weddings of Rayford and Buck with their respective brides (Amanda and Chloe) with Bruce as the presiding minister at the beginning of World At War would count.

Alternative Title(s): Left Behind II Tribulation Force, Left Behind World At War, Left Behind The Movie