Some movies are simple entertainment. Others are gripping thrillers or terrifying horrors, others are magnificent innovations, and others still are so laughably bad you can't help but think they're good in the most awkward of ways... and others are just so bad they're bad. But some movies don't fit into those classifications. Some movies are just pure experience. 'A letter from Isaiah' is one such film. I have to admit, when first contacted to review this film, I was rather confused, simply because it was so starkly different from practically anything else I've covered on here. It's a religious animated story and documentary, but that's only the basic label for what I can only describe a nearly three-hour long adventure describing the Prophet Isaiah and his tribe's migration to the nation we know today as Japan. This film does contain grandiose backgrounds, a memorable art style, and a beautiful orchestral soundtrack that can bring one close to tears, but no malignant presence nor cast of heroic warriors battling to save the world, at least not on a conventional means. I may also add before I review the film thoroughly that Letter from Isaiah will not be for everyone. The film's entirety lay in dialogue and historical descriptions, so don't expect any magnificent fight scenes. As a conventional movie, I'd say it's sorely lacking, but the Letter from Isaiah isn't a conventional story, but rather a retelling of humanity's indomitable spirit, compassion, and reliance on faith and togetherness to survive in the face of adversity. How does Letter of Isaiah accomplish these exactly? Let's get into it. Obviously, the film's primary focus lays on Isaiah, but his two sons Amate and Susa are major protagonists as well. Their struggles and experiences are told through this movie, as it opens the backdrop of Judea's ancient tribes being tyrannized, oppressed, and invaded by Babylon, Assyria, and other rival nations. Together, they are tasked with bringing together much of the ancient Hebrew tribes and migrating to the 'East', a promised land where they can start to build a paradise of togetherness and love, a utopian vision that is cemented by the overarching concept of the film, that being the 'oneness' of the universe and mankind. There isn't some hostile message of forcible conversion to a faith or belief in God, nor are these ancient tribespeople presented as perfect. It was only after countless years of war, separation, and strife that King Hezekiah (the monarch who first assigns Isaiah on his holy mission) finally decides enough is enough. All the characters bear a distinct level of personality, from the Prophet and his sons to King Serta of Japan and his daughter Princess Theo, to Isaiah's wife and daughter Tsukuyumi to even the Hebrew Tribal chiefs, but the most important aspect is that all of them truly believe in the concept of oneness.
The primary message of this film delivered through its characters, their goals, and motivations; is that the 'one' isn't achieved by reaching some elite goal or acquiring some gaudy title that declares one superior with intelligence and strength above others, but rather that simple human kindness and decency makes the world utopia. Separation, ego, pride, all these negative ideologies have been the bane of mankind's existence, but through the belief that all are one can a very strong sense of empathy be built that will prevent humans from harming each other by seeing the innate value in each other's livesAt least, that's the message and theme I took from this movie.
Furthermore, this movie contains a few moments that genuinely brought me close to tears, one above all being when Susa witnesses a lowly craftsman die during the tribal migration East. During this scene, Susa describes the pain of loss and how Isaiah's words of oneness and God's love finally make sense to him. Having experienced a loss of friends and loved ones before, this moment I think resonated with me more than any other moment in the film, as the scene beautifully portrays the sheer hopelessness of loss and the grief one experiences, but also reminds us all: what is grief if not love personified? Through faith and belief in the one, Susa is able to not let his sadness defy him, but become a part of his self. Consequently, the soundtrack is utterly spot on. An orchestral mark for each scene that makes even the benign dialogue seem holy and almost ethereal. I believe it was meant to try and convey the majesty of what the movie is trying to convey regarding humanity and oneness, and the music department knocked it out of the park, kudos to them. I must also say this movie manages to blend the history of the Prophet Isaiah and his migration with excellent visuals and dialogue that allows us to clearly understand what is going on at all times. Obviously I had to watch it with English subtitles, but I still felt I understood the context of each scene and how the story was progressing, so if anyone feels put off by the fact this is a foreign project, I would implore you to try and place the bias aside.
A Letter from Isaiah, as I've already said, isn't a standard movie. It's an experience that will take a few hours, and I don't believe it could be for everyone. But if you are willing to give it a chance, you will encounter a both historically informative and heartwarming tale of bravery, redemption, and sacrifice to achieve an idea of human empathy and love through the policies of togetherness in the One, and the knowledge that mankind is ultimately capable of more good than it is evil. Have a great day dear readers.