“Even the wisest of men was a fool for love.”
Coming to theaters September 26, 2014, the music-driven film The Song tells a story of love, courtship, marriage, betrayal and redemption that will ring true to all viewers who have learned firsthand what Pope Francis told twenty brides and grooms on their wedding day: the path of marriage “is not always a smooth one … It is a demanding journey, at times difficult, and at times turbulent, but such is life!”
The drama of The Song centers on aspiring folk singer-songwriter Jed King, whom we meet as he struggles to make a name for himself and escape the shadow of his famous musician father, David. Jed reluctantly agrees to a gig at a local vineyard, where he meets the vineyard owner’s daughter, Rose. A romance quickly blossoms, and Jed and Rose are married. In the joy of the dawn after his wedding night, Jed writes “The Song” for his beloved new bride.
This tender love song becomes a surprising breakout hit, and Jed is thrust into the blinding lights of stardom. Temptation is quick on his heels in the form of his attractive touring partner, violinist Shelby Bale, who stokes his ego and challenges his old-fashioned devotion to his wife. As Jed’s popularity grows, his marriage and family life begin a slow, agonizing tailspin of unmet needs, blame, and mistrust, leading finally to a rock-bottom questioning of everything he once believed in: his wife, his faith, and the possibility of lifelong love.
For the viewer well-versed in Scripture, it will come as no surprise that The Song finds its inspiration in “the” song of Scripture, namely the Song of Songs attributed to Solomon. The ancient poetry of the Song of Songs takes on new life in Jed and Rose’s innocent courtship and joyful early marriage:
My lover speaks; he says to me, “Arise, my beloved, my beautiful one, and come! For see, the winter is past, the rains are over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of pruning the vines has come. … Arise, my beloved, my beautiful one, and come!” (Song of Songs, 2:10-13)
You have ravished my heart, my sister, my bride; you have ravished my heart with one glance of your eyes … How beautiful is your love, my sister, my bride, how much more delightful is your love than wine! (Song of Songs, 4:9-10)
In fact, the film echoes not only the Song of Songs, but also Ecclesiastes, also attributed to Solomon. The Song treats Ecclesiastes as autobiographical, tracing Solomon’s later years of searching after meaning in a world filled with pleasure but bereft of true satisfaction. Indeed, as the stresses and tension of Jed’s fame and both spouses’ needs threaten to suffocate the joy of their married life, their malaise is aptly described in the words of Ecclesiastes: “Vanity of vanities, vanity of vanities! All things are vanity!” (Ecc. 1:2)
And as Jed seeks to fill his aching heart with popularity, novelty, women and wine, the words of Solomon ring bitingly true:
Nothing that my eyes desired did I deny them, nor did I deprive myself of any joy. … But when I turned to all the works that my hands had wrought, and to the toil at which I had taken such pains, behold! all was vanity and a chasing after wind. (Ecc. 2:10-11)
Such sentiments could easily be put on the lips of so many men and women today. The Song’s strength comes from focusing a fierce, unflinching eye on the suffering experienced by a husband and wife who lose the first joy of marriage, both by subtly “drifting apart” and by more forceful jolts of betrayal and infidelity. Undoubtedly many families will see themselves on the screen in the bewildering undertow of hurt caused by those closest to us, and a seeming inability to recover lost love.
But there is hope! Spoiler alert: The Song has a happy ending. (After all, it is a Christian film!) But the happy ending does not happen in a flip-a-switch-and-everything-is-better sort of way. It’s clear that even after escaping severe trials with their marriage intact, Rose and Jed have some major healing to do. The film is honest in this way too. The wounds inflicted by one’s spouse are not healed instantly, and trust needs to be slowly and resolutely rebuilt. But renewal is possible. The Song gives a realistic message of hope to struggling marriages: Hang in there! Rediscovering your beloved and your “first love” is possible, and it’s worth it!
In this too, The Song echoes Pope Francis’ encouragement to married couples:
To spouses who ‘have become impatient on the way’ and who succumb to the dangerous temptation of discouragement, infidelity, weakness, abandonment… To them too, God the Father gives his Son Jesus, not to condemn them, but to save them: if they entrust themselves to him, he will bring them healing by the merciful love which pours forth from the Cross.
The Song is cinematically impressive, musically enjoyable, and connects to the age-old longing of the human heart for true love and communion. It leaves another line from the Song of Songs in its wake, verses that remind husbands and wives of the rock-solid foundation of their married love:
For stern as death is love,
Relentless as the nether world is devotion;
Deep waters cannot quench love,
Nor floods sweep it away.
(Song of Songs, 8:6-7)
For more information about THE SONG and to see where it’s playing near you on 9/26/14, visit The Song website.