A Christian filmmaker has shared why he is so keen to bring to life the “fascinating” story of the life of Bible translator John Wycliffe in his new film Morningstar.
Born in the early 1300s, John Wycliffe grew up at the height of the Roman Catholic Church’s powers. But as an early reformer, long before the likes of Martin Luther, he fought against the growing corruption and worked tirelessly to translate the Bible into the English language.
Speaking exclusively to The Christian Institute, director Murdo Macleod, who has a breadth of experience of working in both Christian and secular filmmaking, shared his passion for the story as he raises funds for the film’s production.
The idea for Morningstar was born out of Macleod’s work on his previous film ‘Knox’. His research about the life of Scottish reformer John Knox led him through the complex story of the Protestant Reformation in Britain and Europe.
He said the story of John Wycliffe’s life “is chapter one of this huge Reformation saga”.
“I wanted to tell John Wycliffe’s story almost as a stepping out point for people to then go on to investigate the rest of the Reformation.
“John Wycliffe is known as the Morning Star of the Reformation, the first flash of light just before the dawn, and in many ways he is the precursor. He goes beforehand and then everyone else follows.”
Macleod explained that what set Wycliffe apart from others in his day was his focus on the Bible: “It was putting the Bible at the front and centre of what he believed that made him different, and that makes him continue to be relevant to us today.”
He believes that post-coronavirus, people will be searching for a ‘new normal’, but that for Christians, it is imperative that we, like Wycliffe, put the Bible front and centre “in our own lives, in our churches, and in society”.
Historical accuracy is imperative to the film, as Macleod says that while some filmmakers can oversimplify historical figures by labelling them “a goodie or a baddie”, it is imperative that Morningstar is “truth, and not merely propaganda”.
“It’s not to be one-sided. It’s to present Wycliffe, warts and all.”
Wycliffe will be portrayed by Jared Morgan, an experienced actor whose TV credits include ‘Doctor Who’ and ‘Prince Caspian and the Voyage of the Dawntreader’.
Morgan will be joined by presenter Philip Todd, who also presented Macleod’s previous film, Knox.
The film will be a hybrid of both drama and documentary, with the goal of releasing the final cut before the end of 2021.
As with many Christian films, Morningstar is grassroots-funded: “We don’t have a big studio that’s coming on board and giving us millions of pounds”, Macleod said. “We are largely dependent on donations and small investments by people who feel as passionate about this film as we do.”
He added that the team had been “very fortunate and very blessed so far that we’ve had a lot of generous support”, but added that there is still some way to go before the film is fully funded, and they hope more Christians who believe in the importance of Wycliffe’s story will choose to get involved.