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‘Quiet’ films, amid the blare

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (BP)–“Father, it’s so noisy down there. So much babble and silly racket. What are they trying to do, anyway? Are they noisy because they’re afraid of something, or what?”

That passage is from the 1950s book “Angel Unaware,” written after Roy and Dale Rogers had lost one of their children to heart disease. It was written from the little one’s perspective, as if she was telling her story to God, while He held her on His lap. It is moving, insightful and comforting. I recommend it for anyone grieving the loss of a child.

The passage has to do with the unaccustomed sounds that disturb children, racket that we accept and tolerate as the years pass. Sadly, the decibel level of the world’s din has not subsided since the ’50s. Just the opposite. This is best evidenced by the media that entertain us.

The main ingredient each summer movie blockbuster has in common with the others is the noise factor. And by noise, I mean both sound and fury. The hyperkinetic action and special effects of “Spider-Man 3” and all the rest of this season’s “threequels” have become tumultuous and inescapable. Can you imagine watching “Live Free or Die Hard” followed by “Transformers”? You’d be buzzed for a week.

And let’s not forget the harshness of the screamed dialogue. Frustrated or fearful, the leads yell out God’s name followed by a curse or utter “Jesus” as if it were a mere expletive designed to relieve tension.

Though many of these films are well made, thrilling and even contain a positive message or two, overall, they are all chaotic in their execution. Some aren’t so good, with the special effects designed to mask a deficient story or minimal character development. The Bard said it best in “Macbeth”: “It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

Admittedly, my rant is beginning to sound old fogy-ish. And I’m not completely convinced that some of the blast and bellow heard in today’s films isn’t helpful to the younger among us. The energy created by the studio sound and visual effects departments may offer a sometimes healthy diversion from the strife of everyday life. But fed only a diet of commotion and bedlam leaves the psyche no room for the power of spirit-led introspection. The Word of God exalts us to savor times of quiet and meditation.

“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him …” (Psalm 37:7).

“Be still, and know that I am God,” (Psalm 46:10).

“Be still before the Lord, all mankind …” (Zechariah 2:13).

It takes quiet time for our spirits to sense His guidance and feel His love.

“He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul …” (Psalm 23:2-3).

“… He will quiet you with His love …” (Zephaniah 3:17).

As we read the Bible, it becomes clear that our Creator wishes to spend quiet time with each of His children. What’s more, a peaceful nature speaks to our acquaintances.

“The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded than the shouts of a ruler of fools,” (Ecclesiastes 9:17).

I suspect that a gentle film may not hold the attention of the average summer movie enthusiast, but the following video alternatives will touch the soul: “To Kill A Mockingbird,” “Tender Mercies” (rated PG, some language) and “I Am David” (PG for thematic elements and violent content). (Reviews can be found on my website, moviereporter.com.) Question is, do you want your soul touched?
Phil Boatwright is celebrating his 20th year as a film reviewer. He is the film reviewer for previewonline.org.

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  • Phil Boatwright