It’s this year’s biggest surprise hit: “Sound of Freedom,” a feature film about rescuing battered children, has been breaking records every day since it hit theaters on July 4th. But the film polarizes enormously: some see it as the pinnacle of right-wing propaganda, others as a long-awaited, supposedly honest depiction of the hidden grievances of our society.
Jesus actor Jim Caviezel as child rescuer
The content of the film can be summed up quickly: The children of the main character, a white man in mostly black Colombia, are kidnapped. The man searches for them and stumbles upon a criminal network of child trafficking and abuse. This network appears to be under the control of secret rulers.
Strengthened by his Christian faith, the man risks his life and – almost single-handedly – sets out to save his own children and those of the dark-skinned local residents.
The hero named Tim Ballard is played by Jim Caviezel, who took on the role of Jesus in Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ (2004). Alejandro Goméz Monteverde directed the film, whose work “Bella” won the audience award at the 2007 Toronto Film Festival.
The Myth of the “White Messiah”
The film’s cast and plot have been criticized for being politically incorrect since the film’s release. The “World” explains in a logically comprehensible article what role the Christian faith of the white protagonist could play for the film and the film’s message.
Ballard repeatedly quotes Bible verses before he gradually puts the dark-skinned criminals to rest. This strengthens the myth of the “white messiah”, who frees the “natives” through his cleverness – and reaps their thanks.
But is this controversy enough to explain the success of “Sound of Freedom”?
Economically a mega hit
From an economic point of view, “Sound of Freedom” is definitely the wet dream of the film industry: the budget for the production was a whopping 15 million US dollars. Since its release, however, it has already grossed more than 85.5 million US dollars.
The American financial magazine “Forbes” reports that “Sound of Freedom” grossed $14.24 million in its opening weekend – more than Disney’s summer blockbuster “Indiana Jones”. Nevertheless, the film’s gross sales increased again in the last week, by a full 37 percent.
Bradon Purdie, head of exploitation for the film at Angel Studios, shared in one July 16 press release In all of American film history, there have been “only 10 nationally released films that have increased by more than 35 percent in their second week.” With the exception of “Sound of Freedom,” all of these films would have made the jump during the Christmas holiday.
Movie based on true story
So what makes “Sounds of Freedom” so successful? Many viewers praise the reality and the message of the film.
Sounds of Freedom was inspired by the life of Timothy Ballard, an anti-human trafficking activist and founder of the non-profit organization OUR (Operation Underground Railroad). “OU R” conducts covert operations to free abused children in South America.
In 2016, a film was released entitled The Abolitionists, documenting a covert rescue mission in Haiti. Similar documentaries appeared in 2018 and 2020.
Film end polarized
This background is important, among other things, to understand the controversy surrounding the end of the film and the film’s message. After the actual end of the film, Caviezel turns around directly to the viewer. With tears in his eyes, he talks about children being trafficked as sex slaves. There are even more slaves today than there used to be – even though human trafficking was legal back then.
Caviezel then asks the viewer to donate “Sound of Freedom” movie tickets so that as many people as possible can get his important message.
Caviezel believes in satanic elite who use children’s blood for rejuvenation
But Caviezel’s statements only become really controversial when you consider them in context. Caviezel has been a member of the controversial group QAnnon for years. The group spreads conspiracy theories with a right-wing extremist background in America.
One particularly popular QAnon theory holds that society’s secret elite form a hidden government called the “deep state.” The publicly visible politicians are at best puppets. Many QAnon supporters believe former President Donald J. Trump fought to expose and abolish the deep state.
What makes the hidden elite so dangerous: they abuse their power and, among other things, abuse children they kill in order to extract “adrenochrome” from their blood – a life-prolonging drug.
Caviezel: “A storm will come”
reports of “NHP”According to the newspaper, Caviezel even promoted the theory during a Sounds of Freedom press event.
On a podcast by former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, Caviezel reportedly called QAnon a “good thing” and said, “The whole adenochrome empire (…) This is an elite drug that (members of the covert elite) have been using for many years.” The drug is “10 times more potent than heroin” and has “mystical properties when it comes to making you look younger.”
Caviezel summed up his expectations for the film’s social impact on the same podcast with a phrase widely heard among QAnon supporters: “A storm is coming.”
QAnon – the group that stormed the Capitol
QAnon became known to the general public when a horde of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in Washington DC on January 6, 2022. A man in a fur hat and buffalo horns appeared in many photos at the time, with a painted face, spear, national flag and shirtless. That man was Jacob Chansley, a QAnon believer who wanted to overthrow the deep state.
The invisible leader of the QAnon movement is considered by supporters to be John F. Kennedy Jr. According to a report by the Dallas Morning News According to reports, on November 1st of last year, hundreds of QAnon followers at Dealey Plaza in Dallas awaited the arrival of their leader – who did not come. Kennedy Jr. died in a plane crash in November 1999.
Germany has second most QAnon followers in the world
In Germany, too, many believe in the conspiracy theories of QAnon. In fact, there is no country outside of the US where QAnon has that many followers.
A representative study of the non-profit Organization Center for Monitoring, Analysis and Strategy (CeMAS) with almost 2,000 respondents, which was published in March of this year, showed that more than one in ten Germans (12.4 percent) believes the QAnon theories are correct. Members of the Reich citizen scene and AfD voters in particular often believed in the theories. Almost 4 out of 10 AfD voters (44 percent) saw the theories as correct. Among all groups considered, only opponents of corona vaccinations were more likely to be QAnon believers (46 percent).
Alarm bells are ringing on the left
The American left has already sounded the alarm as far-right and conspiracy ideas spread around the world. John Knefel, a journalist for the left-wing watchdog organization Media Matters for America, described the British news channel as “the Sound of Freedom”. “BBC” recently as an attempt by the right to present their own political issues as “mainstream films, as important films”. A key to the film’s unexpected success was that Caviezel “absolutely embraced QAnon messages and theories” and promoted them accordingly.