THE HOPEFUL, from Kyle Portbury Films, is an inspiring true story about the roots of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. It’s an epic tale of faith, hope, and perseverance based on real events that take place in a community of people whose lives are transformed as they learn what it means to truly wait for Jesus. This sweeping drama, set in 19th-century New England, invites audiences of all ages to imagine how hope can change the world.

Buy tickets today to see THE HOPEFUL in theaters ONLY on April 17th & 18th!


William Miller’s faith is in ruins. After miraculously surviving a fierce battle in the War of 1812, Miller questions why God spared him. His search for wisdom leads to an astonishing prophesy — the world is going to end. THE HOPEFUL unfolds as a story of a man burdened with the knowledge of Christ’s return. Miller’s message resonates with some—even as it is scorned by others. When a young woman named Ellen Harmon listens to one of his sermons she is transformed. And through her witness, the message begins to take flight. The preaching grows beyond prophecy and develops into a more holistic vision for how Christians should live and worship. We see blossoming the seeds of a new global movement of faith—the Seventh-day Adventist Church!


In 19th-century New England, the lives of a diverse group of people collide through interweaving stories of despair, identity, faith, hope and trust as they wrestle with biblical prophecies. These are real people, some with charismatic personalities, but they each have their own failings and frustrations.

Interestingly, this all occurred during the Second Great Awakening when people would actively study the Bible and discuss religion. Revivals were a key part of the movement and attracted hundreds of converts to new Protestant denominations.

The movie starts out aboard a steamship sailing across the Atlantic Ocean in 1874, where widower John Andrews delights his son and daughter with a tale of courage and hope. The boy seems to be a bit old to be asking for a bedtime story, ha. But I loved the footage of the ocean-going steamship!

Some of the acting seems rather amateurish but the movie is still interesting to watch. I like how it contrasts two daughters, one of whom is a devout believer and the other who is more interested in the theater.

Jonas Myrin, a Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter from Sweden, wrote the original songs. The modern music style doesn’t quite go with the period drama, but that’s okay. The movie seems to have been filmed in historical buildings with re-enactors as extras, which must have been fun for them.

I like how the movie solidly implies the horrors of war without actually showing anything. It depicts the trauma of a man whose friends died in the War of 1812 as he wonders why he was spared. He loses himself in the Bible as a way of coping.

The man (William Miller, a gentleman farmer) is reading the words of the prophet Daniel in Daniel 8:14 where it says “in 2,300 days then the sanctuary will be cleansed.” He realizes if the sanctuary refers to earth… it predicts when Christ is coming!

He figured if 2,300 days = 2,300 years, Christ will return in the year 1843. That’s in four short years!

His wife says he has to tell people. But William complains to God, “I cannot preach – I’m not qualified!”

Then somehow word begins to spread and he’s invited to speak at Joshua V. Hines church in Boston. Hines was an enthusiastic supporter of intellectual innovators and social reformers.

A frail young girl is listening to Miller’s sermon about the Second Coming when he says “God will wipe away all tears and there will be no more death, no more pain” and she feels comforted at the thought. She’d always heard of His wrath and judgement but never heard of Him as a healer before.

Some people call Miller a fool and a pastor kicks a family out of his church just for believing him. The father says, “You may believe you are casting us out, but Father Miller’s understanding of Christ’s soon return cannot be ignored. We must follow the word of God over the rule of men. We will not keep this good news quiet.”

It wasn’t just Warren Miller; other preachers got involved and added their own two cents. Someone pointed out that he wasn’t counting the year 0, so it was really going to happen in 1844. They even pinned it down to the exact date on which it would occur.

Miller had been saying all along, “God’s message was never meant to be about a specific date.” But a lot of people were waiting for the end of the world on October 22, 1844. Then, nothing happened.

Believers were literally crying in bitter disappointment. They thought Christ was coming back but He didn’t. Many had sold their houses, quit their jobs, given their money to charity. Now what do they do?

It was called the greatest hoax of all time. Adventists call it the Great Disappointment of 1844. William Miller was rarely seen in public after that.

It seemed like the Adventist movement had made God’s word appear untrustworthy. But they didn’t purposely set out to mislead people, it was an innocent mistake.

The second half of the movie segues into another theme.

Ellen Harmon, the frail young girl, has an epiphany. She collapsed, saw a vision, and heard an angel speaking. The angel said this date was the beginning of their journey, not the end. Ellen meets James White of the Christian Connection and eventually becomes Mrs. White. They make a great team. Ellen writes down the tenets of the faith.

She had sway in a man’s world when very few women did, which was unique.

Meanwhile, another lady is convinced that they are worshiping on the wrong day. She says that Saturday is clearly the 7th day of the week. A bunch of people rise up as Sabbath-keepers, including Captain Joseph Bates. He lost all of his money, but he has a small following who agree with his Sabbath-day church.

I think it’s fascinating that both of these movements were instigated by women!

The two separate groups, the Adventists and the Sabbath keepers, found a common ground on which to come together. Their two pillars of faith: the Sabbath and the Second Coming of Jesus. That’s how they got their name, Seventh-Day Adventists.

Ellen White believed that health depends on exercise and diet as well as faith in God. She and her husband found the Western Health Reform Institute: “Extending the healing hands of Jesus.”

Fun Fact

The movie doesn’t go into any more details, but just so you know, this institution became a world-renowned sanitarium in Battle Creek, Michigan. The health resort approached treatment in a holistic manner, actively promoting healthy nutrition and vegetarianism, and abstention from smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol. The institution was managed by Dr. John Harvey Kellogg. According to Encyclopædia Britannica, his “development of dry breakfast cereals was largely responsible for the creation of the flaked-cereal industry.” I’m always excited to find interesting connections like that!


Joshua Hines continued to be a prominent leader in North American Christian circles.

Joseph Bates remained a leader in the Seventh-Day Adventist Church and an outspoken voice in the Abolition and Temperance Movements until his death in 1872.

Ellen and James White were inseparable in sharing the message of hope until James’ death in 1881.

Ellen continued traveling, preaching, and writing until her death in 1915 at the age of 87.

The Smithsonian Institution named Ellen White as one of the 100 most influential Americans of all time.

John Andrews and his children, Charles and Mary, were the first of many missionaries to share the Advent hope around the world.

Today, Andrews University in Michigan bears their name.

THE HOPEFUL was filmed on location in Ottawa, Canada; Glasgow, Scotland; and Sydney, Australia.


THE HOPEFUL is a touching tribute to the beginnings of the Seventh-Day Adventist church. It’s a powerful story of heartbreak and hope. This is a great movie for fans of biography, drama, history, and the church. Even though it’s a period piece, the people and their problems are totally relatable. When their anticipation doesn’t pan out, it affects everyone differently. It shows how humans are fallible, but it doesn’t affect the character of Jesus and His love for us. I love that this movie features a strong female protagonist.

Buy tickets today to see THE HOPEFUL in theaters ONLY on April 17th & 18th!




Interview with the Director


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Many thanks to Hope Studios for providing a sample of the product for this review. Opinions are 100% my own.

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  1. I so want to see this movie with my family. I love that it is faith based. For privacy reasons I will provide my last name via email if I am the winner thank you for understanding.

  2. I love historical movies so this is very interesting to me.

    1. Congratulations Mary Carmen, you’ve won this giveaway! Check your email for the gift card that was sent today.

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