The Sound of Freedom. Produced by Eduardo Verástegui, directed by Alejandro Monteverde; with Jim Caviezel, Mira Sorvino, and Bill Camp; Santa Fe Productions/Angel Studios, 2018/2023. Release date: July 4, 2023. Learn more about the film at this site. Warning! This film treats a very sensitive subject in a forthright manner. Parental judgment and discretion are advised.
What is the sound of freedom?
The sound of freedom, to which the title refers, is the sound of children finally getting emotional release – after rescue from the most horrific circumstances imaginable. For the subject of The Sound of Freedom is the kidnapping, enslavement – and prostitution – of children.
The film itself gives the grim statistics. Two million children disappear into the hands of the child sex industry each year. The crudest way the sex traffickers acquire these children is to snatch them off the street. In fact the film has a chilling montage of surveillance footage showing many such snatches. But sometimes these modern comprachicos work their kidnappings with greater cleverness. An attractive adult, usually female, entices children with a promise of a great entertainment career. They hold “auditions” in a cheap hotel in or near the industrial district of a large city. The organizers won’t let “stage fathers” attend the audition, but promise they can pick their children up later. When the parent(s) leave, the organizers proceed to run, not a real audition, but a photo shoot. They even try lipstick on the children, especially the girls, in an obvious appeal to the aspiration of “growing up.”
Except that when a father comes to pick up his children, he finds the hotel room empty and the building deserted. His children – and many others besides – have disappeared. The Sound of Freedom opens with that precise scenario in a Central American city. (It’s Teguchigalpa, Honduras, but could be any city, especially in Latin America.)
Meet Tim Ballard
In fact, The Sound of Freedom tells the story of Tim Ballard, once a special agent with Homeland Security Investigations and later the founder of Operation Underground Railroad. The left-wing news organ Vice did hit pieces on OUR, beginning with this one. Anyone having the slightest doubt about OUR and its mission should consider this: if the problem of worldwide child sex trafficking is as large as OUR describes and The Sound of Freedom depicts, then the Hollywood establishment would have every reason to deny the problem. And for a very logical – though anything but good – reason: they are its customers. The Sound of Freedom often mentions big real-estate tycoons and “big tech millionaires” among the consumers of child pornography. And also among the clients of child prostitutes and their procurers.
As this film depicts, Tim Ballard takes down a pedophile and rescues a small Honduran boy. After interviewing the boy – and interrogating his prisoner – he realizes two things that will change his life. First, the boy has a sister, whom a procuress “took” with him. (See above.) Second, this problem is far larger than this one case. And when the boy’s father asks rhetorically how any father could sleep at night, knowing that his house has an empty bed where any of his children once slept, Ballard decides his fate. At the cost of his job (eight months before “vesting” his pension), he decides to rescue that little girl. And she would be only the first.
How Ballard works
This film shows the kinds of children the traffickers often take – and the sort of men who buy their services. (Or, as in one memorable case, buy them outright.) Working with a Colombian police agency, Ballard arranges to build a sophisticated “sex motel” on an island the Colombians confiscated from a drug cartel leader. Like moths to a light, would-be customers eagerly sign up for memberships. With this attention, Ballard and his newfound friends lure the original procuress with a “contract” for fifty children. When the children (fifty-four of them) arrive, the authorities close in. This trap works for the same reason the Trojan Horse did: because such traps leverage greed. And, as in this case, lust.
Sadly, the girl Ballard is looking for is not among them. But others whom the procuress “acquired” in that same “job,” are. With these and other leads, Ballard discovers that the trail leads into rebel-held territory. Nevertheless, he infiltrates this territory disguised as a United Nations doctor bringing in vaccines. There he discovers the girl – now the “personal property” of the rebel leader. Needless to say, he kills the rebel leader and barely escapes alive with the girl – whom he reunites with his father.
The film’s “message crawl” then tells us that Ballard remains in Colombia to follow many other leads from their phony “sex hotel” and the raid on it. Result: 120 total rescues, and twelve trafficking arrests.
Portrait of a vigilante – and an attempt to stop the picture
Jim Caviezel gives a very affecting portrayal of Ballard, who requested that Caviezel portray him. (Evidently Ballard saw Caviezel in the title role in the 2002 adaptation of The Count of Monte-Cristo.) Caviezel does an excellent job playing the hero who just can’t (or won’t) understand why things have to stay the way they are, and a particular rescue is impossible. He succeeds in large part by shaming others to do their jobs.
Santa Fe productions finished The Sound of Freedom in 2018. (Therefore the vaccines cannot be for COVID-19.) They signed a deal with Twentieth Century Fox to distribute it. But The Walt Disney Company bought Fox out – and promptly shelved the picture.
Santa Fe spent years to get their distribution rights back. They eventually succeeded, and signed another distribution pact with Angel Studios. This studio also produces The Chosen, now in its third season, about the life and ministry of Jesus Christ.
Angel Studios set a nominal release date of July 4. But in fact it premiered in some markets a day earlier. Before its nominal opening, it sold $10 million in pre-sales. Rotten Tomatoes shows it with a “Tomatometer” rating of 85 percent and an audience score of 99 percent.
Variety clearly doesn’t want to believe that child sex trafficking is the problem that it is. (If Donald Trump says it’s a problem, then to them, it’s not.) But even they had to admit The Sound of Freedom is a compelling true-crime thriller.
Wither The Sound of Freedom?
The Sound of Freedom will stay in theaters as long as people are interested in watching it. Tellingly, when your editor watched it, he needed reservations to get good seats. The screening room almost filled up, except for perhaps the least desirable seats in the “orchestra” section near enough to the screen to force a viewer to look up and crane the neck. And this was for an afternoon showing on a day when one would expect people to be cooking on outdoor grills, or going to nearby water parks, or watching Independence Day parades.
Many YouTube influencers compared its likely reception to that of Disney’s latest release, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. Apparently exhibitors were lucky, in its opener, to seat six to ten viewers per screening room. Any other business would be conducting a mass firing over the decision to shelve this picture. But not Disney. Ask Polk County (Florida) Sheriff Grady Judd, who has made multiple arrests of Disney “cast” in many pedophilia sting operations. That aside, Disney can’t make up its mind to fire everyone involved in making “Indy Five,” projected to lose money while The Sound of Freedom will likely break even – rapidly.
The “hits” keep coming, with people making much of Jim Caviezel “believing in conspiracy theories.” The problem is: the child sex industry is one such “conspiracy theory” that happens to be true.
Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.
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