No one really knows what to expect when it comes to the meticulously crafted world of Kanye West. Whether it be the frenzied sneaker releases, the development of Star Wars-like dwelling structures or the release of an IMAX film dedicated to his “Sunday Service” and overall love of God, West knows how to create a spectacle uniquely his own no matter the medium.
His most recent release has lived up exactly to those expectations and only furthered the grandeur of West’s world, which now draws largely from biblical elements. “Jesus Is King” is an internationally released IMAX production directed by Nick Knight and details the behind-the-scene elements of West’s choir reciting their songs at a site known as the Roden Crater.
The Crater is a man-made structure erected inside of an extinct volcano northeast of Flagstaff, Arizona. As an art installation, its purpose is to channel completely uninhibited light through its unique design elements into the crater itself, creating a heavenly effect for those inside.
West, who has since gone on to reportedly donate $10 million to aid in the further building of the structure, utilized it as a recording and practice space for himself and his choir.
The film opens with a slowly growing drone shot, close up against the center of the structure, spiraling out to an over-encompassing view of the building and surrounding desert while West’s “Selah” builds in volume in the background.
The next forty minutes of the film, which is about its entire run time, is composed of various scenes of the choir performing their songs. West is rarely seen throughout the duration of the film, with his only real appearance being for a few minutes’ stretch where his back is turned to the camera, only showing an occasional side profile to consult with the pianist in the center of the room.
“Jesus Is King” is not a traditional movie by any means, and it would be better defined as an art film than anything else.
Opening with beautiful sweeping shots of the mountains of Wyoming. We see West’s new home, gorgeous flowers, fast moving clouds and an immaculately clear and significantly long close-up of a singer in the choir. These shots create a narrative that is driven by no words outside of the hymnals being sung.
An unconventional film is the exact route you would expect an artist such as West to take for his first project in that realm. West and his team managed to execute it perfectly without being too ambiguous.
Towards the end of the film, we witness a scene of West singing an a capella version of “Use This Gospel,” another track off of the album that shares the same name as the film. Thus, closing out the entire project on that comforting note.
Overall, although the film is different compared to other major motion pictures, “Jesus Is King” was a truly effective piece of cinema. His conversion to a lifestyle as a devout follower of God is a radical departure for someone who has been known to act in any means aside from that of a Christian, but this new leaf in his life and artistic career seems to show promise in the form of uplifting, wholesome and spiritual content.