The Bottom Line: "There's another meeting place somewhere in heaven By the side of the river of life" ~Johnny Cash
The Other Side of Heaven is a small film based on the life of John & Jean Groberg and their life in missionary work. As a young man, John must complete his studies in order to become a Mormon missionary. This work he chose led his far from his loving home in Idaho Falls to the island of Tongan. His relationship with his intended, back home in Idaho Falls, is furthered through his letters describing his work, as well as the conditions, on this far away isle.
Loneliness wasn't the only thing he had to conquer. He also had to overcome the language barrier, cultural changes, physical hardships, and the suspicions of the locals. His journey wasn't always a pleasant one but the long, three year, relationship he developed with the locals gave him a wisdom he didn't expect. Strong friendships were woven and his peace with God reached an entirely new plane.
Later, John and Jean return to the island and continue their work there. They spent many years serving as missionaries in destitute areas around the world, feeling it was their natural calling. They had 11 children through their marriage, he served in several high seats in the Mormon Church, and passed at the age of 74 in Idaho. John was a real person and this story is based on real events in his life, revealed mainly through the letters he wrote back home to Jean. The story wasn't always pretty but his dedication was above reproach.
This movie was directed by Mitch Davis who also wrote the screenplay, taken from John Groberg's book, "In the Eye of the Storm". It won one award, a Camie, for character and mortality. It carries a PG rating for thematic elements and some brief images.
Groberg, played by Christopher Gorham, was only 19 when he started this journey. Gorham gave a very decent and believable performance laced with humor and pathos. His girl back home, Jean [who he later weds], was played by Anne Hathaway. One of the better and most endearing characters in the movie, Feki, Groberg's sidekick on Tongan, was done by Joe Folau. Cinematography by Brian J. Breheny was a beautiful experience with lush details and outstanding vistas.
Not a film for everyone, it is still a nice interlude to quiet the soul.
Based on Elder John Groberg's memoirs, THE OTHER SIDE OF HEAVEN, Mitch Davis' feature debut stars Christopher Gorham (A LIFE LESS ORDINARY) as John Groberg, a 19-year-old missionary who goes to Rarotonga to convert the native Indians to Christianity. In the process, he has to face a number of frightening events that change his life forever. Hungry rats eat the soles of his feet, he is almost killed by a hurricane that devastates the island so that their food supplies run out and he starves, and he is caught in a storm at sea and nearly dies until he floats to safety. All the while he is reassured and strengthened by the sweet letters from his fianc?e, Jean Sabin (Anne Hathaway, THE PRINCESS DIARIES). The film veers on the fantastic and is peppered with nostalgia; a full moon peeks through soft fans of tree branches, and Jean spends much of her time gracefully gowned in frilly fifties frocks. Many members of the cast and crew are New Zealanders and Miriama Smith and Nathaniel Lees are both well-establishe...