Follow TV Tropes


Film / Let There Be Light (2017)

Go To

Let There Be Light is a 2017 American Christian drama film directed by and starring Kevin Sorbo and written by Dan Gordon and Sam Sorbo.

Outspoken atheist Dr. Sol Harkens is something of a celebrity. One night he suffers a drunk driving accident and crashes into a construction site. Suddenly surrounded by a light tunnel, he sees hallucinations of his young son David, who died a few years prior from cancer. His son enthusiastically claims that he's alright and he should let God's love fill him, proclaiming "Let there be light!" as Harkens comes out of unconsciousness. The experience leaves Harkens struggling with a crisis of science versus faith, of which he is helped by his Christian ex-wife Katy.

This film features examples of:

  • Acid-Trip Dimension: The "Tunnel of Light" sequence, which consists on still images of Harkens' life swirling together in a bright vortex.
  • Aesop Collateral Damage: Harkens used to be a Christian, until his youngest child, Davey, got cancer and died; because of this he claimed to be an atheist and spent many years converting many people to "atheism", until a near death experience makes him see his dead son and he turns his faith around.
  • The Alcoholic: Harkens prior to his conversion. In fact, drunk-driving is what leads to this, since he crashes and undergoes a near death experience which convinces him God is real.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Norm, Harkens' publicist, who has a tendency to call Harkens "darling," but his sexual orientation remains unconfirmed.
  • Appeal to Worse Problems: Sol makes an odd argument near the end that comes off much like this, when Sean Hannity asks him (as Devil's Advocate) what right he has "imposing [his] values" on others by attempting to make them Christians. To which Sol responds by asking what right ISIS has beheading people, which Sean then calls "powerful". While of course he's got every right to (peacefully) attempt converting others, it's a very weird way of defending it.
  • Artistic License – Physics: Harkens starts a campaign with his ex-wife, Katy, called "Let There Be Light" in which, to promote Christianity, people would go out on Christmas Eve night and light the sky with the flashlights of their cellphones, later Sean Hannity reports on the movement mentioning that it was even visible from space. In reality, even if a thousand people got together in one place and pointed their flashlight to the sky, their visibility even from Low-Earth-Orbit it would still be lost by brighter light sources in the surrounding areas.
  • Author Tract: The film is a very good example of Christian propaganda, and the Sorbos are Christian fundamentalists themselves.
  • Black-and-White Morality: One of the major criticisms of this film. It portrays all Christians as good honest people who only want to do good, and everyone else who doesn't believe in Christianity as smug, condescending and hedonistic jerks that just want to destroy Christians because they hate their faith.
  • Broken Aesop: It leaves a lot to be desired of the fact that Harkens became an atheist after his son died of cancer, then found his way back into religion and reconciling with his wife, only for his wife (who is said to have been a devout Christian all this time, never having the denunciation of faith Harkens had) to be stricken with cancer herself and die.
  • The Cameo:
    • Dionne Warwick appears providing the music for the Harkenses' second wedding.
    • Sean Hannity (who was also an executive producer of the film) appears taking an interest in Harkens' story, eventually leading to Harkens appearing on Hannity.
    • Country music singer Travis Tritt appears as a doctor who diagnoses Katy's cancer.
  • Chewbacca Defense:
    • The one debate we see Harkens take part in while he's a hardcore atheist has him using this. He doesn't prove that God doesn't exist, he just engages in showboating, basically just saying "life is cooler if you only think about Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll!", which is enough apparently to get the room to his side.
    • This exchange between Sean Hannity and Sol:
      Hannity: What right do you have to impose your religious values onto somebody else?
      Harkens: What right does ISIS have to cut people's heads off?
      Hannity: That's a powerful point...
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Norm, Harkens' publicist. All he cares about is how to engineer and exploit Harkens' next stunt, and the moment Harkens isn't profitable for him because of his newfound interest in religion, he dumps him.
  • Cynicism Catalyst: Harkens has one, naturally, which is his son dying of cancer.
  • Divorce Is Temporary: During the movie, Sol reconciles with his devout Christian ex-wife, Katy, and proposes for her to marry him again.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Near the end, after Harkens has already returned to be a Christian and has reconciled with his ex-wife, she gets cancer and dies.
  • Dying Dream: The scientific explanation Sol gets of his Near-Death Experience is that it's only a hallucination caused by his brain in stress. Sol's wife dismisses this out of hand, and he soon follows.
  • Easy Evangelism: You'd think that after having the vision of his son, Harkens would spend quite some time then wrestling with his beliefs, but after what seems like just one chat with his family and one chat with a pastor, that is enough to get baptized into Christianity again.
  • Evil Stole My Faith: Harkens' main reason for not believing is this; his son still died of cancer.
  • Go Out with a Smile: Katy's last words are "It's so beautiful..." implying it's heaven that she's seeing.
  • Grief-Induced Split: Sol's son David died of cancer, causing him to reject Christianity and become an outspoken atheist. It's presumed that the death led to his divorce from his Christian now-ex-wife Katy.
  • Hallucinations: The doctor Sol consults says his Near-Death Experience was this, the result of what's called the "dying brain" (not always literally, but in life-threatening situations the hypothesis says it can happen). It's then dismissed without ever showing that she's wrong, once Sol talks to a pastor for a second opinion.
  • Heel–Face Turn:
    • Sol gets portrayed this way to a mild degree, though he's only a jerk at worse. He converts from an atheist zealot to Christian once again as a result of a Near-Death Experience seeing his dead son.
    • Pastor Vinnie, a minister who he talks with, is a more straight example. He was a mobster who found God in prison and left his criminal lifestyle.
  • Hollywood Atheist:
    • The film has a blatant example of this in its protagonist, who not only is a caricature of famous atheists like Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens, but he also openly admits that the reason for his atheism is because his youngest son died of cancer. The movie has him suffer an accident in which he gets a near-death-experience and sees his dead little son, and because of this he turns his faith around (almost exactly like the character Sorbo played in God's Not Dead, except that Sorbo's character in God's Not Dead died shortly after the accident). Interestingly enough, the film seems to be trying for a reconstruction of this trope: Harkens himself tries to use the story of his son to justify himself, apparently trying to make a Problem of Evil argument (i.e. that suffering like this would not be allowed by an all-good, all-powerful God, thus one does not exist) though it's not very well explained and he doesn't bother actually making this an argument in debate (although it's a common one, and what many Christians openly admit is difficult).
    • It also falls on the well-worn Evangelical view of secularists only leading lives of empty hedonism, as pre-conversion Sol has no moral principles other than endless partying (that only makes him more miserable).
  • Lap Pillow: Katy offers her lap to Sol to help him sleep in one scene.
  • Leno Device: Harkens appears on Hannity to discuss his "Let There Be Light" campaign.
  • Meaningful Name: Sol, as in Saul, a persecutor of Christians until his conversation and renaming as Paul. Sol also sounds like "soul", which certainly relates to the theme of the film, combined with his last name Harkens sounding like "darkness" (his campaign is called "Let There Be Light", after all).
  • National Stereotypes: Pastor Vinny hits all the points for Italian-Americans in one spaghetti flavored package, a former "wiseguy" who peppers his dialogue with "badda bing, badda boom"s, the one variation being that he's a Protestant minister, rather than a Catholic priest.
  • Nay-Theist: Harkens is revealed to actually be one, rather than an atheist, as he admits to hating God.
  • Near-Death Experience: Harkens undergoes one where he sees his dead son, which convinces him he's still alive and in heaven with God, bringing him back to his former faith.
  • Sassy Black Woman: Harkens' assistant.
    Harkens' assistant: [to Harkens] Mmmm-hmmm! Wooo! You're so fly!
    The Cinema Snob: Written by a fifty-year-old white woman!
    Jake: Okay, just one time, I wish these Christian films would write the black characters like they were a real, whole person, instead of just 3/5's.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Katy, when Harkens picks her up for their dinner date in which he proposes to her again.
  • Straw Character: Harkens serves as this: he constantly comes across as an over-the-top atheist who's filled with hatred. To add insult to injury, he pretty much introduces himself as a Hollywood Atheist, more precisely a Nay-Theist, who is bitter about his son dying. He also seems to be a walking cliche about militant leftist speakers who have nothing better to do than manipulate the minds of the young.
  • Straw Nihilist: Considering the film dishonestly presents nihilism as synonymous with atheism, Harkens looks to be trying to challenge the similar character Kevin Sorbo played in God's Not Dead as the greatest example in all of fiction, especially with his quotes during the debate at the opening.
  • Take That!: Generally against atheists, but also against left-wing speakers, and to a lesser degree Muslims. There is also an odd shot taken at Bill Maher, odd in the sense that is less about the fact that Maher is a famous non-believer like Sol and more about Maher's short height.
  • The War on Straw: This film shows everyone who isn't a Christian in the most negative light possible.
  • Token Minority: Harkens' assistant is the only character of color who is somewhat close to the main characters. This is specially noticeable when she's shown with a group of people illuminating the sky with their phones: she's the only visible minority in that group. In fact, the only other character of color who got any lines at all was Sol's doctor, who's Indian and an atheist fan of his.
  • Totally Radical: Harkens invokes this early in the movie with his "sex, drugs and rock 'n roll" line, even though that phrase hasn't been either popular or used in a non-ironic way for decades.
  • White Anglo-Saxon Protestant: The Harkens and the main characters are predominantly white upper-middle class American Christians.
    Jake: You are never whiter than when you're sitting in your suburban sunroom, with a warm plate of fresh cookies, and cold tall-glasses of fresh-squeezed lemonade, surrounded by your family and talking about God's love!