Review: Urim and Thummim (2007)


Directed by: Dub Cornett, Jacob Young | 77 minutes | documentary

The South of America is inhabited by many deeply religious Americans who are often at the bottom of the ladder socially and economically. This combination is fertile ground for all kinds of sects, such as Evangelical Christians dancing with snakes. However, to dismiss Todd Walker’s story as just another sectarian story would be too blunt, and director Dub Cornett doesn’t. While the tone of ‘Urim and Thummin’ is a bit ‘cheesy’ at times, it is clearly not the intention to ridicule Walker and his crew. The humor in the documentary is really only introduced by Walker himself, who sometimes knows how to express his religious experience in a special way, especially thanks to his ‘southern accent’.

In the meantime, the documentary gives a nice picture of how Walker comes to his special faith. The purchase of a simple thing turns Walker’s life upside down, and his turnaround also leads to the “conversion” of his family. His family supports him in his need to make God’s love known to everyone now, and along with his two brothers-in-law, Todd sees himself as the guardian of the Urim and Thummim.

As credible or implausible as the story may be, the change Todd has gone through is compelling. He is by no means ashamed of his special faith, even if it is often not understood by others. That incomprehension is not in itself apparent from the documentary. In it, many people speak who either fully agree with Todd’s faith, or at least keep open the possibility that he could be right. Ultimately, Walker also agrees to show the stone to experts, from archaeologists and historians to psychologists and religionists. The various reactions of the scientists are beautiful to see: while one listens to Todd with great astonishment and just doesn’t call him crazy, the other can’t wait to take the stone apart and start investigating.

There is a lot of confusion and discussion about ‘Urim and Thummim’. Due to the bizarre subject matter, many believe that this is a fake documentary, and that if it is real, Todd Walker and his colleagues are portrayed rather disrespectfully. Yet the latter is not too bad. While there is plenty to laugh about, Todd Walker and his fellow believers are indeed portrayed with respect by the directors, and it is up to the viewer to judge whether this documentary is real or fake, and whether Todd Walker is crazy or not. A judgment that will not worry Walker himself, because he loves everyone anyway. And that in itself is something to have all respect for.

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