Frequency, the Movie

  The new film Frequency has won over both audiences and the critics. The New York Daily News calls it a "classic for the ages," and Entertainment Weekly says that it "will reduce grown men to tears." Frequency works because its central themes are ideas that Christians in particular understand. Frequency tells the story of a New York City fireman, Frank Sullivan, and his family. It's October 10, 1969, the eve of the World Series. Sullivan and his neighbors are excited about the prospect of the woebegone Mets playing in the series and the very unusual appearance of the Aurora Borealis. The film then cuts to October 10, 1999. The Aurora is back. We see Sullivan's son, John, as an adult. But his life is a mess. We learn that, on October 12, 1969, his father died in a warehouse fire, and John's life has never been the same. Rummaging through his dad's stuff, John finds his father's old ham radio. After hooking it up, he hears a familiar voice. It's his father's. The film turns to fantasy. Somehow, the two sets of heavenly lights have enabled father and son to speak to one another across time. After realizing what is happening, John warns his father about the warehouse fire -- thus saving his father's life, and altering his own past and present. Frequency is being described as science fiction, but that isn't why the movie has met with critical and popular acclaim. For starters, the attempts to explain scientifically how father and son have been reunited are, as critic Roger Ebert characterizes them, "nonsense." No, Frequency works because its story reminds audiences of two important truths that are rarely depicted in popular culture. The first is the importance of fathers in the lives of their children. The movie leaves no doubt about the power of a loving father in the life of his son. When Frank is restored to John's life, the difference is dramatic. Speaking of restoration, the other factor that sets Frequency apart is its hopefulness. While the film's explanation of "how" father and son were reunited fails, the audience definitely knows "why" the events took place: to make right something that went wrong. The movie leaves viewers with hope that miracles can happen and that Someone is guiding events. This hope stands in stark contrast to much of our popular culture which denies the existence of any underlying force in the world. The film is rated PG-13, for a couple of strong words and its crime-scene photos. But while Frequency isn't specifically a Christian film, the ideas at the heart of its story are. The importance of the father not only reminds us of the importance of our own fathers, it also echoes Christianity's view of God as the loving father. And it was Christianity that taught man the basis for hope: a God who, as theologian Thomas Howard wrote, promised to "restore the years the moths and locusts have eaten." While Frequency is too intense for younger viewers, it's one of the few films Christians can see that affirms our beliefs, instead of tearing them down. And this affirmation of classic truths may explain why so many are drawn to the film: It reflects the deepest needs of the human heart.


Chuck Colson


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