A New View Film Series: The Redemption of General Butt Naked Film Summary

A New View Film Series: The Redemption of General Butt Naked Film Summary

 

On February 18th, The Redemption of General Butt Naked played at the Eidson-Duckwall Recital Hall at Butler University. The 2011 Sundance Film Festival winner proved to be a morally challenging and thought-provoking movie that incited an eye-opening conversation.

[The following summary may contain spoilers.]

 

The documentary begins with a joyous welcome and introduction to General Butt Naked, who now goes by Joshua Milton Blayhi. Blayhi recalls his past life as a war General, as if he is waking up from a nightmare but he acknowledges that it happened. Contradicting testimonies ring in the background as we see Milton Blayhi preparing for church service: “You hear Butt Naked you would run,” and “He’s aUnknown-1 warrior…general…he will live forever.”

During the 14-year long Liberian civil war that ended in 2003, an estimated 250-thousand people died. After 10 years in exile, Blayhi returns as an Evangelist, dubbing himself Reverend Joshua Milton Blayhi. He preaches the importance of turning lives around for the better, “only Christianity can help this nation,” he says, “[the] only thing that can disarm… is love.”

Many who were questioned about General Butt Naked did not take it lightly, “for what he did…to trust him again is a difficult thing.”  As he goes on to seek forgiveness from the woman whose brother he killed, Blayhi acknowledges that joining a religion will not replace justice and that it will not suffice, but it continues to motivate his evangelism and need for redemption.

The documentary follows Blayhi as he goes to the residence of his former soldiers, seeks forgiveness, and offers guidance. In an attempt to make up for his actions, Blayhi helped to reform the former child soldiers by assisting with drug rehabilitation and providing them with beds, clothes, and food. Blayhi said he wanted to “balance the scales of the past” and revive their lives.

In addition to Blayhi’s journey to seek forgiveness from his victims and their families, the documentary also takes us through some of the 2008 testimonies before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Liberia (TRC), during which Blayhi contests to killing and torturing no less than 20,000 victims. The country and people of Liberia struggle to find a balance between accountability and moving forward with their lives through forgiveness. Blayhi relies on his faith throughout the long process and believes that the truth will set him free. Blayhi had stated that while progress had been made, he will still have to apologize “until the day he gives up his ghost.”

Redemption_General_ButtNaked_filmstill2_JoshuaBlahyi_byRyanLobo“I don’t care about prosecution. I don’t care about any court. Jesus has assured my freedom.” – Joshua Milton Blayhi

Over the course of a tumultuous life of evangelism depicted in the documentary, Blayhi encountered multiple emotional encounters with victims from his past. The scenes were moving, but not all were convinced of his redemption.

When the documentary ended, a thought-provoking discussion began. Some viewers in the audience expressed both support and criticism to the way the former General Butt Naked “absent-mindedly” went around “demanding for forgiveness.” Some believed that while Blayhi has truly repented, he still found a way to be in power and in control. “Instead of asking for it…he had a way of extracting forgiveness,” one audience member mentioned. While in the past as Gen. Butt Naked, he used violence as his power, today he uses God. A common back-and-forth continued between the audience members regarded Blayhi’s transformation and acknowledgement (or lack thereof) of his crimes. However, a recurring point upon which many seemed to agree, is that this documentary depicted repentance in the eyes of faith, self-forgiveness, and human resilience in a way that made everyone delve deeper into their own stories of faith and forgiveness.

 

Written by Anna Krukover

Sponsored by The Desmond Tutu Center, Center for Interfaith Cooperation, and Butler University’s Amnesty International and Center for Faith and Vocation.

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