An unimaginable movie

‘I Can Only Imagine’ touches hearts

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Story by Amanda Garmon, staff writer

At first, you may think a movie based on a song will be only mediocre. “I Can Only Imagine” destroys these thoughts and exceeds expectations. It brings hope. It is inspiring people everywhere, leaving almost everyone in the movie theater sniffing, teary-eyed and red-faced as they leave.

“I Can Only Imagine” is primarily based on the life story of Bart Millard (played by J. Michael Finley), the lead vocalist of MercyMe, a contemporary Christian rock band formed in 1994. When Bart was young, his father (played by Dennis Quaid) physically and emotionally abused him. Bart’s mother left him and his father while he was away at a children’s Christian camp (where he met his future wife), giving even more opportunity for his father to continue. Bart matured into a teenager and circumstances were not any different with his father. In high school, Bart wanted to fulfill a dream of playing football as his father wished, but Bart injured his ankle, ensuring that he will not be able to play anymore.

His father was soon diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, but kept it a secret. His father’s constant hateful attitude led Bart to leave home and receive an opportunity to join a band in Greenville, Texas.

Bart formed a band named MercyMe played gigs at a multitude of places, going through many trials and tribulations as they tried to get discovered by a record label. After being rejected, Bart decided to go back home and see his father — where there was business he needed to attend to.

Bart Millard’s story of his father is giving people all over the world the motivation to forgive each other and become closer to God.”

— Amanda Garmon

Bart arrives back and his father’s behavior is unfamiliar. He was more well-groomed and had a pleasant tone in his voice which caused Bart to be suspicious. Before he left out of frustration, he noticed a pamphlet and a diagnosis of his father’s terminal cancer. He confronted him and his dad clarifies that he would soon die. The two spent enjoyable time together such as going on road trips and working on a vehicle. Bart was able to forgive his father of his past mistakes.

After the passing of his father, Bart was inspired to write “I Can Only Imagine,” which is a song dedicated to what Heaven may be like and what his father may be experiencing. The song drew many people, including well-known Christian artists and record labels. Many people around the world were given hope and drawn to Christ.

The song continues to be a hit today, serving as one of the most-played and downloaded Christian songs. The movie is just as impactful because of its sincerity and poingnancy. Bart Millard’s story of his father is giving people all over the world the motivation to forgive each other and become closer to God.