August 24, 2004
The Radicals Story of the Early Anabaptists Now Available in DVD and Spanish
(GOSHEN, Ind.) – The story of Michael and Margaretha Sattler dramatizing the origins of Anabaptist movement in Europe in the early 1500s is now available on DVD from the Mennonite Church USA Historical Committee (www.mcusa-archives.org).
The new DVD of the award-winning 1990 theatrical film also includes a Spanish track and other teaching aids including historical comment by Mennonite historian John Sharp and theological perspective by author and teacher Myron Augsburger.
Augsburger, author of the novel Pilgrim Aflame which served as the inspiration for the film The Radicals, believes the film can help viewers focus on the beliefs they hold most strongly. The story of Michael Sattler focuses on the critical issue of what it really means to be a disciple of Jesus, according to Augsburger.
The Radicals, winner of a 1990 CINE Golden Eagle for theatrical films and the silver medal from the Houston Film Festival, is paired on the DVD with a half-hour documentary about Anabaptism that includes scenes from The Radicals. The DVD also includes a condensed version of the story suitable for younger children.
The Radicals was produced more than 15 years ago by Sisters & Brothers, a group of young Mennonite filmmakers committed to exploring issues of faith through the media, all of whom are still actively involved in communications in the church today. The executive producer team included Jim L. Bowman, J. Ron Byler, D. Michael Hostetler and Joel Kauffmann. Bowman heads his own video production agency and often works for Mennonite agencies; Byler is associate executive director of Mennonite Church USA; Hostetler is the director of Nazareth Village in Nazareth, Israel; Kauffmann is the creator of the Pontius’ Puddle cartoon strip and has written the screenplays for several Disney Television features.
“We wanted to tell Michael Sattler’s story in a way that would penetrate the mindset of people who don’t want to hear about religion,” said Hostetler. “This is our story of faith and we wanted Mennonites and other Anabaptists to understand the human dimensions of the story that make these people come alive and challenge ourselves and others to ask what we would have done, how far we would go for what we believe,” said Kauffmann.
Historical comment on the DVD by John Sharp, director of the MC USA Historical Committee and Archives can help viewers understand the context and importance of the experiences of Michael Sattler and other early Anabaptists. “Sattler is important to us,” said Sharp,” because he was the author of the Schleitheim Confession, an agreement that catalyzed many separate groups of Anabaptists. We can learn from the clarity and strength of Sattler’s witness during his trial and his courage during his execution.”
The new DVD expands the audience for The Radicals by offering high quality dub tracks in Spanish and Portuguese. Closed captioning is available for persons with hearing impairments. The English subtitles may be played with the Spanish dub, making the movie simultaneously accessible to both language groups.
“The chapter introductions by Sharp and the compelling interview with Augsburger, give additional insights and information on the Anabaptist movement that make the movie a valuable learning tool for catechism classes and groups beyond our Mennonite boundaries,” said Kauffmann.
The DVD also includes a “making of” feature with interviews with several of the film’s producers as well as with Norbert Weisser, the actor who brilliantly portrays Michael Sattler on screen. Weisser has had featured roles in many Hollywood films including Three Amigos and Schlinder’s List.
The Radicals was produced in 1989 on location in Europe with a cast that included several thousand people and many thousands of volunteer hours. The film was financed through contributions from Mennonites in North America and Europe and was first shown in theaters in Mennonite communities. Gateway Films/Vision Video has served as the primary distributor for the video. The new DVD was authored by Tim Bowman.
The DVD is available for home and church libraries for $29.99 ($25 each for orders of two copies or more) from the MC USA Historical Committee (www.mcusa-archives.org). Or call the Historical Committee toll-free at 866-866-2872. The DVD is an excellent tool to introduce faith issues to friends and neighbors, as well as youth.