The saga of Kanye West’s Jesus Is King—a sub-set of the wider Kanye saga that’s steadily quicksanded large swathes of our pop culture imaginations over the last 20 years—has been a typically long and circuitous one. Bombastic announcements. Leaked set lists. Retractions. Delays. Sudden swerves to declare that West no longer has any interest in “secular music.” And now, obviously, a trailer for an IMAX movie that goes heavy on the grandiose imagery and bible verses, and light on any Kanye West.
Said trailer is for the film version of Jesus Is King, filmed in artist James Turrell’s gorgeous Roden Crater in Arizona. Here’s a synopsis, taken from the movie’s web site:
Filmed in the summer of 2019, “JESUS IS KING” brings Kanye West’s famed Sunday Service to life in the Roden Crater, visionary artist James Turrell’s never-before-seen installation in Arizona’s Painted Desert. This one-of-a-kind experience features songs arranged by West in the gospel tradition along with new music from his forthcoming album “JESUS IS KING” — all presented in the immersive sound and stunning clarity of The IMAX Experience.
And honestly, the most exciting thing about any of this is the chance to get lovingly shot, IMAX-friendly looks at the Crater; although he’s been working on it for decades—moving untold tons of dirt, designing light-focusing “observatories, and more—Turrell has been extremely selective about letting the outside world get a look at his creation. (The official opening has been delayed any number of times over the last 20 years; Kanye West, presumably, can relate.) Meanwhile, West’s roving Sunday Service shows put a heavy emphasis on gospel music and occasional bits of commentary from West, as well as reminders, presumably of who is king. (It’s Jesus.) All of which has actually managed to get us legitimately a bit excited for this, provided it, you know, actually happens. (Fool us a dozen times, etc.…) Gorgeous visuals mixed with good music is about as much as we could possibly hope for out of a “Kanye West film”—directed by Nick Knight, by the way, so fingers crossed that West will be able to get out of his own way and let some actual beauty out into the world.
Jesus Is King arrives in select IMAX locations on October 25. Probably.