Caviezel’s Sound of Freedom
wasn’t a fun way to spend the 4th of July. But since, for me, it was a ‘must see,’ John, our friend Fr. Dan and I secured tickets for opening day last Tuesday. As promised, the theatre was sold out. So we got to sit in the very first row. A first time experience I hope not to repeat.
Although the filming for the movie was completed nearly five years ago, it was released only this past Tuesday.
According to Jim Caviezel, who portrays protagonist Tim Ballard, “Just like the Passion of the Christ, they tried everything to keep us from doing this film.”
Within the first four minutes of the movie, we understand the gigantic heft of this ‘industry’. The canniness of the traffickers and sheer magnitude of their enterprise worldwide is jaw dropping. Therefore the money…indeed, the money is unimaginable. There are more than 2 million people enslaved in trafficking, over a third of whom are children; it’s quickly surpassing illicit drugs and estimated to be a 150 billion dollar industry. Caviezel’s Sound of Freedom- A real hero.
Who are “they?”
Apparently, some immensely powerful people. Consider these points:
- Just a few months ago, the UN declared that sex with minors, defined as ages ten to eighteen. can be consensual.
- A new psycho-euphemism has been introduced: where once it was pedophilia, now it’s minor attracted persons.
- And, guess what? We’re back to treatment, not judgement, or support over shame for those afflicted with pedophilia. A sea change I find truly fascinating since I joined the Catholic Church as it plunged into the Boston Globe’s unrelenting, vicious blitzkrieg on then Bernard Cardinal Law. You may recall that it was Boston where it began.
- For following the experts of the eighties for pedophiles priests and everyone else: “treat, don’t judge,” Bernard Cardinal Law was driven out of the country.
- And the Boston Globe got a Pulitzer.
- But the agenda differed back in the nineties.
- Or, did it?
Jim Caviezel calls
Tim Ballard a “real hero.” And after reading just a little about this guy Ballard, the actor’s phrase feels inadequate. In a moment, you’ll see why. First though, a few more comments about the film in hopes that you too will decide to spend two hours in a darkened theater immersed in depravity. Caviezel’s Sound of Freedom
Upon meeting the former Homeland Security agent eight years ago, Tim Ballard, Director Alejandro Monteverde said, “With hundreds of operations, I’d guess they tend to blur together. But is there one that stands out?”
After thinking for a minute, Ballard replied, “Yes, the first one. In Cartenega.”
I’ll stop here at Caviezel’s Sound of Freedom because this first case informs the story in this film.
Monteverde’s screenplay and dialogue is restrained. There are no explicit sexual scenes or language. Following the adage, ‘less is more,’ the images of small boys and girls subtly posed, an eight-year-old with a thousand-yard-stare, express far more than could graphic scenes.
A few months ago, I read and wrote of another ‘hero,’ Texan Katherine Lee, whose chance airplane conversation with the CEO of one of the largest pornographic companies in the world, resulted in the: Pure Hope Foundation.
But the power of one rescued traffiked boy who answers, “Teddy Bear” when Ballard asks his name.
Then to, “No, what is your real name?”
And followed by, “Can you find my sister?”
cannot be overstated.
Lest we distance ourselves too far
from these perpetrators, screenwriter Monteverde drops us into a conversation between Ballard and his first recruit, Vampiro, a local who buys traffiked kids and sets them free. Actor Bill Camp does a splendid job portraying the coarse, streetwise Vampiro. In one of the rare non-action scenes of the movie, Vampiro relates his experience with a streetwalker to Ballard.
“I realized she wasn’t twenty-five, hell she wasn’t even twenty….she was fourteen.
“And she’d been doing this since she was six.
“I put a gun to my head and said, God, if you’re there, tell me now.”
There’s only one place to go when confronted with this depth of evil: Christ.
My friend Linda’s introduction to Servant of God Chiara Lubich and the Focalare movement keeps echoing in my head. One of the pillars of the movement is focusing on the “Forsaken Christ.”
Those middle of the night agonizing hours at Gethsemane when Our Lord opened His Heart, Soul and Divinity to all of humanity’s sin, yours, mine, Hitler, Stalin, .these trafikkers….all of it, throughout time.
We would die if we did not look at you, who transformed, as if by magic,
every bitterness into sweetness;
at you, crying out on the cross, in the greatest suspense, in total inactivity, in a living death,
when, sunk in the cold, you hurled your fire upon the earth, and reduced to infinite stillness,…
So that we might have union, you experienced separation from the Father.
So that we might possess wisdom, you became “ignorance.”
So that we might be clothed with innocence, you made yourself “sin.”
So that God might be in us, you felt him far from you.
Tim Ballard’s O.U.R.
or Operation Underground Railroad warrants more than five minutes of our time and energy with its compelling, noble mission. A mission that began with a little boy named Miguel and Ballard’s ensuing search for Miguel’s sister. Thinking about these kids, their effect on Tim Ballard evokes more than a little wonder at the workings this majestic, merciful God of ours.
And how He makes use of our sinful, puny selves to accomplish the impossible.
If we’re open to His grace.
“More than 4000 predators arrested, north of 6000 children rescued in more than a 1000 operations worldwide.” The figures astound, even awe. But simple math tells us that’s not enough, not nearly enough.
We know what we can do to help, we’re told each Ash Wednesday: prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
- Prayer for these kids, traffikers, pornographers, all of the Father’s children enmeshed in this diabolical web.
- Fasting if not from food then something we love.
- Take advantage of Angel Studios’ pay it forward, thereby keeping this movie ‘they’ don’t want seen near the top of summer films
- Almsgiving with our donations.
In an interview with Jim Caviezel and director Alejandro Monteverde, the director says that his favorite line in the movie wasn’t in the script.
It’s a scene where a sting operation successfully entraps a predator with a worldwide reach.
Caviezel stares at the traffiker and says,
“It would be better for you if a millstone were tied around your neck and you were thrown into the sea..”