2014's hit faith-based films have all worn their connection to Christianity heavily on their sleeves. "Son of God" centered on the life, death and resurrection of Christ. A four-year-old in "Heaven Is for Real" claimed he met Jesus. "God's Not Dead" depicted a Christian college student challenging atheism. Even "Noah," while directed by a non-Christian, was still set in a popular Old Testament story.
That may not be the case with "The Song," the latest faith-based film to hit theaters and set to open this September. With a soundtrack which evokes the Grammy award winning British band Mumford and Sons and a protagonist who struggles with greed, fame and staying faithful to his wife, "The Song" may challenge audience notions of a stereotypical Christian film.
That's part of the plan, Tony Young, the movie's producer told The Christian Post in an email this month.
"Our film is a redemptive tale inspired by the life and writings of Solomon, on his quest for fame, fortune, love, acceptance and ultimate satisfaction and certainly our film is made by people of faith, but I think the term 'faith-based' film means different things to different people," explained Young. "I believe when most people hear that term today, they think of films that are more 'conversional' in nature as opposed to 'conversational,' which is what we are trying to create in our films."
Young and director Richard Ramsey are both committed to aiming for the latter, though the inspiration for the film's story comes from a familiar place: The Bible, specifically the life of Solomon. The film follows the music career of aspiring singer songwriter Jed King as he rises to fame following the release of a hit song, which he writes, inspired by his love for his wife. As he finds his stock rising, King, who has long struggled in the shadow of his father, the musically successful and ethically troubled David King, soon finds himself and his own career at a crossroads.
The moral complexities in the life of Solomon are part of what made the content of the film interesting for Ramsey.
"One of the things that intrigues me about the Wisdom Literature section of the Bible, specifically the works by Solomon, is just that he deals with really gritty, rough, not sugar-coated issues. Song of Solomon, Ecclesiastes-- it's very unlikely you're going to see any verses lifted out and made into a cross-stitch to hang on your mom's wall," he said. "I think he's really intriguing that way."
"The way I look at it as a believer myself, I feel like reality and Christianity are not separate spheres and that includes sex, that includes self-destructive things we engage in to find meaning and satisfaction," he added.
When adapting Solomon's story to a 21st context, Ramsey said he and his team considered "how these issues worked themselves out in a modern context."
"In our culture that kind of polygamy isn't chic and that kind of idolatry isn't chic and fashionable, but there are certain approaches and beliefs about sex that are chic and fashionable and there are different worldviews that are chic and fashionable that are in their own way idolatrous, so what does that look like in the modern era? How can you bring them into the story in a way that reveals new insights into a timeless and old story?" commented Ramsey.
When asked about whether the film's storyline would be appropriate for a family audience, Ramsey pointed out that "not every biblical subject is appropriate to every age group."
"I think the same thing will be true of films dealing with faith and biblical subjects," he added.
Young believes that the movie's message and music will give "The Song" far-reaching appeal.
"We think this film will appeal to a broad range of audiences…particularly anyone who enjoys movies with great music, an engaging love story, and an overall message of what truly satisfies in life," said Young. "We feel like these things are equally appealing to both Christians and non-Christians alike and will play well with both audiences because the acting, production values and storytelling are what the audience of a film are most focused on when they come to see it and all are great in this film."
The movie stars Alan Powell, who himself grew up as a pastor's son, as Jed King, Ali Faulkner as his wife Rose, and Caitlin Nicol-Thomas as King's fellow performer, Shelby Bale. According to Young, "The Song" will open in 400 to 800 screens this fall depending on the feedback it receives at pre-screenings in June and July.