Many fans were less than satisfied with Kanye’s ninth solo project that dropped Oct. 25, “Jesus is King.” Fortunately, it’s impossible to say the same for the film installment that followed the album release.
West’s film, “Jesus is King” was released on Oct. 25, and will stay in theaters until Oct. 31. It documents one of his “Sunday Service” concerts at Roden Crater in Arizona. Roden Crater is a large-scale artwork created by artist James Turrell to observe a “controlled environment for experiencing and contemplation of light” (Turrell). It is still a work in progress, and has never been open to the public. Turrell has been cultivating this project since the ‘70s.
The film opens to the camera panning out of the crater while “Selah” plays, the second track on the album. The IMAX experience ensures that you can hear the music all around you in a surround sound fashion, and down to your very core. Throughout the entirety of the film and the album, Kanye uses a gospel choir to turn your experience into something truly transcendental, whether or not you’re even a religious believer.
The film takes tracks from the new album, and mixes them with tracks from some of his older albums, such as “The Life of Pablo” and “808s & Heartbreak.” It focuses on the choir from different angles, allowing us to watch them kneel and raise their arms to the sky as if in prayer and borrow their devotional exhilaration as our own.
The film takes a hairpin turn after the choir files out of the room, and West is left alone, sweeping the floor. He begins a haunting, melancholy version of “Street Lights” accompanied on the piano, which could arguably be labeled as the highlight of the whole film.
The scene that follows is just as personal and intimate. We see West holding his youngest son, Psalm, and singing “Use this Gospel.” We get a glimpse into the private family life that West leads, and how his music and his faith tie into that as well.
“Jesus is King” falls into a gray area where it can’t be qualified as a documentary or a music video. If anything, it could be a video installment in an art museum.