Sound of Freedom
Director: Alejandro Monteverde
Date Created: 2023-07-04 00:00
I was going to go to the theaters to see good ol’ Oppenheimer since I opted for Barbie last week, but I kept getting headlines about this hidden, controversial, “sleeper film,” called Sound of Freedom.
Sound of Freedom is a Christian faith-based film starring Jim Caviezel, the man who played Jesus in the epic Biblical film, The Passion of the Christ. It was also produced by Angel Studios, the same company which released The Chosen, a popular Biblical series recounting narratives based on Jesus and his disciples.
Rather than being an explicitly Christian film recounting Biblical narratives like Angel Studio’s predecessors, Sound of Freedom takes place in the 21st century.
It tells a “based on true events” story of a man named Timothy, who fights to rescue a boy and his sister from a child trafficking ring.
Before watching the film I heard many differing rumors concerning it.
Some stated that the film was really powerful and important.
Others accused AMC theaters of sabotaging the film’s screenings due to its strong and exposing messaging.
Some claimed that the film was pushing forward misleading propaganda.
If it weren’t for all the buzz, I may have never seen this film, but I really wanted to witness for myself what all the hubbub was about.
And boy, after watching that film, I became even more fascinated with the conflicting dialogue surrounding a very straightforward message.
Child trafficking is heinous and a crime against humanity. It’s clearly wrong.
How are these adjacent, often irrelevant, narratives overshadowing a quite blameless message and a very cleanly executed film?
Let’s dive deeper.
Sound Of Freedom Controversy Explained
Controversy #1: AMC Sabotaging Screenings
Many audience members of Sound of Freedom took to social media to recount the strange and unusual interruptions they experienced while watching the film in AMC theatres.
The Sound of Freedom theater problems include the theatre forgetting to dim the lights, failing to turn the air conditioning on, and misrepresenting the number of available seats for screening.
Both AMC and Angel Studios came together to refute these claims with Angel Studios stating that AMC actually agreed to additional screenings of the film due to its high demand.
Because of the amicable conclusion to this controversy, it died out pretty quickly.
The press that this controversial claim created only provided more free marketing for the film so it was ultimately a win-win situation.
Personally, I didn’t experience any strange occurrences while watching this movie in Regal theatres, although I had never been in such a small and packed theatre on a Thursday afternoon.
But it is an indie film that’s unexpectedly gotten a lot of press so having a small and packed theatre is unusual in very understandable ways.
Controversy #2: Supporting QAnon Conspiracies
Many large publications have tied the Sound of Freedom message to the conspiracy theories perpetrated by the political QAnon group.
The conspiracy involves the belief that the rich and powerful harvest children’s blood as a means to extract a life-extending substance.
The main actor, Jim Caviezel, has made statements in the past in support of QAnon theories casting a negative shadow on the true intentions of this film.
Although Sound of Freedom does not outwardly make any claims supporting these conspiracy theories, there seems to be a widely held assumption that propagating these theories is the movie’s underhanded goal.
QAnon groups have been using this movie to support their beliefs about how powerful figures traffic children.
However, there is no mention of children’s blood, any names alluding to the rich and powerful, or any hints toward conspiracy theories.
The people requesting these trafficked children in the movie are all underground, sleazy, unassuming figures, not rich politicians or well-beloved celebrities.
Furthermore, this film was completed before QAnon theories started permeating the media.
The movie’s main message is independent of one person’s supposed beliefs.
If we’re willing to overlook the fact that Ezra Miller is a different person than The Flash then it’s not unreasonable to understand that Jim Caviezel’s beliefs are different than Timothy’s.
This does bring up the debate of whether it’s possible to separate the art from the artist.
In some cases like R. Kelly, it’s hard to listen to his music without hearing the undertones of his depravity.
In this case, one of the artist’s worst crimes is considering the possibility of an unpopular opinion that is not even alluded to in the art. Is that dire enough to discount the whole movie?
Controversy #3: Sensationalizing Child Trafficking
The anti-trafficking organization that this movie is based on (Operation Underground Railroad) has been under fire in the past for exaggerating the level of involvement they’ve had in rescuing victims of child trafficking.
In accordance with the over-exaggeration of these stories, Sound of Freedom displays a version of child trafficking that is not very common.
Most cases of human trafficking occur between individuals who know each other, romantic partners, family members, friends, etc…
Not random strangers snatching children off the street or luring them into windowless rooms under false pretenses.
Angel Studios acknowledges the creative liberties they took with the film, showing a less representative form of child trafficking in favor of a more jarring, emotionally impactful story.
Sound of Freedom does initiate an important conversation about the realities of child trafficking. The shock factor leads the audience to seek out the truth.
This article by Vice depicts how Sound of Freedom has inspired people to seek out how to help child trafficking victims although their understanding of how to help is skewed by the movie’s dramatic portrayal of the issue.
Real survivors of child trafficking have found Sound of Freedom‘s misleading portrayal of the problem to be harmful to society’s understanding of how to truly help trafficking survivors.
If this movie doesn’t accurately represent the realities of child trafficking then where are the narratives that do?
If Sound of Freedom is inaccurate then how do we perpetuate narratives that tell the full truth and that inspire the masses to combat the world’s evils?
Even if the story is not 100% true, child trafficking is a very real issue and Sound of Freedom is making people curious about how they can combat it.
People are getting their foot in the door, wanting to know how they can help.
Grand tales of saving the helpless and innocent are one thing but actually supporting and helping survivors to recover from the traumas they’ve faced is another and not so glamorous.
The creators of Sound of Freedom seem to understand this, listing real statistics on child trafficking and tangible ways to combat it on their website.
Controversy #4: Movie Investor Charged with Accessory to Child Kidnapping
The most recent news concerning this movie is that one of the film’s investors was recently charged with accessory to child kidnapping.
With over 6,000 contributors to Sound of Freedom, there are bound to be some bad eggs. And at this point, all charges against him are yet to be tried in court so we don’t yet know whether he’s truly guilty of this crime or not.
This popular headline makes the same mistake that it accuses the film of making. It disproportionately sensationalizes an issue.
If you look into the crimes of those who put money into every single film, not one would be spotless.
Associating the Sound of Freedom‘s name with the alleged unsavory actions of just one of the thousands of people involved in the making of the film holds this movie to an unfair standard in comparison to every other movie that has been made with the money of dishonest people.
At the end of the day, all press, good or bad, is good press.
The worst thing that big news publications could do for Sound of Freedom‘s box office numbers is to stop talking about it.
Apart from the Sound of Freedom Controversy, Is it Good?
Sound of Freedom tells an important story. And being an independent film that gets a lot less funding and marketing than your mainstream film, Sound of Freedom not only tells a story but tells it so well that it rivals mainstream big buck productions, out-performing bigger films like Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.
Despite the Sound of Freedom controversy, it’s hard to deny the solid filmmaking work involved.
The clean script.
The gut-wrenching monologues.
The thoughtful pacing.
The intentional camera work.
The full-circle use of silhouette stills to create beautiful, powerful, picture-esque moments throughout the film.
The clear metaphor of song and freedom.
The cohesiveness of the message.
There is no confusion about what the movie is saying.
There are no riddles or hidden messages.
Child trafficking is slavery, it’s deplorable, it’s unacceptable, and it needs to be stopped. Period.
Independent of the powerful message, this film is so thoughtfully crafted and beautifully well done.
Although Jim Caviezel is not playing Jesus in this present role as he did in The Passion of the Christ, he still exudes an essence of righteous indignation and salvation, his eyes bleeding with compassion.
The children in this film give incredible, chilling performances. They face unbelievable horrors within the story and make those experiences feel so believable you can barely look at the screen.
When they hurt, you hurt, when they cry, you cry, when they rejoice, you still cry. The film’s acting coach refined each expression to really drive the viewers to tears.
It’s one thing to have a good story, it’s a completely other thing to tell and execute the story well.
Sound of Freedom does both with a high level of honor and reverence for the story. It respects the story by telling it with excellence.
Sound of Freedom is so beautifully crafted that there really should be no controversy about the quality of the project put forward.
Sound of Freedom is a movie of war, a movie of battle tactics, infiltrating the enemy from the inside, and preparing soldiers for the battle ahead.
It’s 2 hours and 15 minutes of emotional storytelling, of unsung heroes, and fallen soldiers. It exposes some of the dark realities of this world even if it may be a sensationalized depiction of the narrative as films often tend to do.
As the film says, it talks about things that are “too ugly for polite conversation.”
Whatever belief system society likes to group us into, if you’re human, Sound of Freedom inspires righteous indignation against the world’s evils.
With a 99% audience approval score on Rotten Tomatoes from 10,000+ ratings, it’s clear that this movie is making a strong emotional imprint on audiences.
It inspires hope in you for a better, safer tomorrow where humans are not reduced to commodities and sound justice reigns.
How is that controversial?
Learn how to support and watch the film here.
What are your thoughts on the Sound of Freedom controversy? Let me know in the comments below!
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Peace, love, and lots of popcorn,