Ragamuffin Blu-ray Review
I knew a little bit about Rich Mullins, the subject of RAGAMUFFIN, during his life. The singer-songwriter came to prominence writing hits for Amy Grant, a Contemporary Christian artist who made a cross-over into pop with several hits. But I wasn’t really touched by his work or his legacy until shortly after his untimely passing at the age of 41 in a car accident while traveling to my hometown of Wichita, KS. His brief encounters with several of my dearest friends made a lasting impression and gave me a reason to seek out his music, and though I enjoyed (and still enjoy) it, I never really realized what an interesting story his life had been.
RAGAMUFFIN begins with Mullins as a young boy. His father John, a farmer, doesn’t understand how his son could have so little ability working on the farm and proves a seminal relationship at the core of the duality of Mullins’ complex relationship with Christianity and, more specifically, organized religion. Mullins finds his place at a young age when he proves to be something of a musical prodigy and, though he isn’t able to fully reconcile his differences with his father, music provides the foundation upon which Rich is able to express and share his faith. But Mullins struggled constantly with feelings of shame and guilt, believing himself to be unworthy of the very love he saw and showed so many others during his life.
RAGAMUFFIN spends a good deal of time with Rich in college and with the lasting effects of those relationships and his need for a father figure. Michael Koch does an admirable job both in simply playing Rich Mullins and with the far more difficult musicality required of the role. Koch’s voice has a certain quality reminiscent of Mullins, though not quite on the same level. Regardless his portrayal of this incredible singer/songwriter just works, whether he’s singing an incredible piece of music or giving a sermon (or both, as Mullins had a tendency to do both regardless of what he other people thought), his straight and earnest delivery of this tortured yet powerful man is truly inspirational to watch.
The other players are not quite as strong as Mr. Koch, though they all perform serviceably in their roles. The plot is a stripped down version of Mullins’ life, certainly missing some of his finer moments in the hunt for the narrative arc tying everything together. But that isn’t to say that it doesn’t work, and on a base level it really does. For me, at least, it was fairly easy to identify with someone who questions his own worthiness in the eyes of organized religion – and while it may be hard for me to understand someone who seemed to be so close to God, and how that person could have had trouble with his own faith, I think RAGAMUFFIN did a good job of bringing that home in a simple and understandable way.
RAGAMUFFIN is a story filmed in collaboration with Mullins’ family (specifically his brother). Chronicling the life of a contemporary Christian musician didn’t sound like a very good movie to me going in, but I was happy to find that I was wrong. Though it misses some key moments in Mullins’ life it certainly inspired me to learn more about the man who brought so many people closer to God. Regardless of your own beliefs, RAGAMUFFIN is a worthwhile story and I think you would be well served to check it out.
RAGAMUFFIN BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: (1080p Widescreen 2.40:1) The video presentation of RAGAMUFFIN is crisp and immersive without being showy.
Audio: (English 5.1 Digital-HD Master Audio) The audio on RAGAMUFFIN is beautifully presented, giving immersion to the music and the dialogue both.
Audio Commentary with director David Schultz and producer Dave Mullins (Rich’s little brother) (02:17:13) The filmmakers do a nice job going through the behind-the-scenes pieces of putting together the film. They are pretty inexperienced but provide some neat moments you might not hear from ‘more polished’ filmmakers and their love of the film is infectious.
The Making of RAGAMUFFIN (10:41) This quick documentary-style feature about the process of putting together this story, it embodies the ragamuffin style Rich hopefully would have loved in RAGAMUFFIN.
Rich and Justin on the Road (01:50) This scene wasn’t needed and probably wouldn’t have strengthened RAGAMUFFIN’s final presentation, but it does show a side of Rich and Justin’s relationship that maybe didn’t get enough play in the film.
Rich Confronted by a Pastor (02:09) At the end of one of the seminal moments in RAGAMUFFIN you might want to know what’s going to happen next… this scene shows what would have happened. It shows one of the problems though with fighting the word from within – sometimes it doesn’t matter if you are right, it’s whether or not what was said should have been said.
A Message from Dave Mullins (05:25) Rich’s brother Dave, who didn’t figure much into the film, actually delves into the idea of what was chosen for the film and what was chosen to NOT be included in the movie. It was important to the filmmakers that RAGAMUFFIN showed the imperfections faced by all of us, faced by Rich in his own life, so that we could remember that our faults are part of the reason god loves us. It’s an inspiring message, even to someone who has struggled with his own faith.