“A Journal for Jordan" is available on Digital now and on Blu-ray on March 8.
In a society rife with division and destructive content, Denzel Washington is on a mission to highlight stories that exemplify true sacrifice, faith and heroism.
“In this day and age, you know, it's tough,” the Academy Award-winner told The Christian Post. “There's so many negative influences out there; social media, obviously, all the obvious ones, but the enemy is the enemy. So we are affected by what's outside of us, but it magnifies or accelerates what's really inside of us.”
It was this passion for creating worthwhile content — and the belief that what we consume matters — that prompted Washington, a devout Christian who describes himself as “a God-fearing man” to direct “A Journal for Jordan,” opening Christmas Day.
Starring Michael B. Jordan and Chanté Adams, “A Journal for Jordan” dramatizes the love story of Dana Canedy, a former New York Times reporter and editor, and Sgt. Charles Monroe King, a soldier who was killed by an improvised explosive device in Iraq. While stationed in Iraq, Monroe penned a journal full of fatherly wisdom for his and Canedy’s infant son, Jordan, who he met just once before his death.
A story of heroism, sacrifice and faith, Washington, a husband and father of four, knew Canedy’s story needed to be told cinematically.
“We're such a divided country right now,” the 66-year-old actor said. “That was one of the main reasons I wanted to make this film, because it's about real heroes. We are the United States, in theory, not so much in practice. But in theory.”
Canedy, who penned the memoir on which the film is based, said she knew her story was in “good hands” with Washington, screenwriter Virgil Williams and the cast.
“They put so much love and care into developing the story and developing the characters,” she said. “And you see that on the screen, you feel it, you can feel that it's personal to them. And I think we've created something that speaks to the power of love, that reinforces the message that love lives on. It doesn't die.”
And Washington, serious about his art, handled bringing her story to life with care in his fourth directorial effort. Before “Journal for Jordan” began filming, and then throughout production, the director made sure to gather the cast and crew in prayer.
“The first day of shooting, I put the whole crew together, and certain days, just wanting to get a spirit of unity and to understand and appreciate the responsibility we had, the lives that we were in some way responsible for telling their stories, and that it shouldn't be taken lightly,” the actor told CP.
“It wasn't a pressure, but it's an honest responsibility. And I, by the grace of God, was the man for the job, I think. I wanted to do it. I wanted to be there. And I wanted to tell Charles and Dana’s story.”
Watch an exclusive clip of "A Journal for Jordan" below.
“A Journal for Jordan” is not a faith-based film; it's rated PG-13 and geared toward mature audiences due to some sexual content, drug use and language. But biblical themes, prayer and Christian principles are nevertheless woven throughout the film.
Canedy described King as a “Christian man,” adding that “glimpses of his Christianity” are seen throughout the narrative.
“I hope … Christians who go out and see the movie [will] smile and feel warm inside, particularly in the season of Jesus' birthday,” she said. “And so it's a perfect time to see this movie with your loved ones.”
The majority of the film focuses on Canedy’s perspective, from her whirlwind relationship with King to the struggles stemming from him being on tour during her pregnancy. Though many films highlight the plight of military members on the frontlines, few have delved into the emotional impact on families back home quite like “A Journal for Jordan.”
This CP reporter screened the film with an active member of the military who said “A Journal for Jordan” was the “most accurate depiction of the emotional journey military families go on” he’d ever seen on the big screen.
“I don’t think we can say anything better than that,” Canedy said.
The latter part of the film tells Jordan’s story, highlighting how the lessons his father left for him guide him as he grapples with his place in society and becoming a man. It emphasizes the importance of cherishing the time we have with our loved ones — and leaving a powerful example for the next generation.
In raising her son, Canedy said she's made it a priority to carry on his father’s legacy, teaching him to keep “God at the center of his life.”
“And he does; he prays every night,” she said. Washington, she revealed, gave Jordan a prayer journal that he “values.”
“I say to him, ‘Jordan, you know how much you can feel how much I love you, you know that, right?’ And he says, ‘Yes, Mom.’ I said, ‘God loves you even more.’ And that's the truth,” she shared.
In an increasingly divided country, Washington hopes that through “A Journal for Jordan,” real heroes are elevated and the sacrifice of both military members and their families are honored.
“Here’s a man, and there are many men and women, children, wives, husbands that have sacrificed given their lives for their country,” he emphasized.
“And we celebrate them, real heroes, real, real heroes. It's not a depressing story. It's an uplifting story. But it's about real heroes, real leaders, real sacrifice, the joy in that, the love in that, the pain in that, the sacrifice in that, and through the eyes and the life that her son will lead — he's 15 now — the future in that.”
Leah M. Klett is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org