America’s Heart and Soul… and Rage: “The Hot Commodity”

David Poland is oh-so-right about America’s Heart and Soul:

Louis Schwartzberg went out into the world and over the course of years, bit-by-bit, human story by human story, he made a documentary film called America’s Heart & Soul.

So why is there a controversy? Well, there isn’t. The film has no apparent connection to Fahrenheit 9/11 except for its release date, which is July 2, when it will go out into just a handful of theaters (big hands…about 100 screens). Oh yes… and the film is a very positive, upbeat look at the people of America. Not the politics… the people. You will laugh and cry, with them and at them. You will find characters in the biggest cities and the most rural towns. But most importantly, you will find people who love what they have chosen as their paths in life. There are a lot of things wrong about America. But the passion of the individual and the freedom to explore that passion… it is what America is supposed to be about and it is what fills your heart in Schwartzberg’s movie.

So why am I making it into something less than heartwarming?

Because I can see it coming. In today’s political climate, anything that isn’t nasty about America, as it is today, is seen as pro-Bush, horribly square and politically right-leaning. This is, of course, insanity. Life in black and white is for morons and salesmen. But rage has become the hot commodity of the day. Watching this film, I felt my cynicism melt. The film released me from my analytical straightjacket…

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About Jeffrey Overstreet

Jeffrey Overstreet has two passions: writing fiction, and celebrating art — music, cinema, photography, literature — through writing and teaching. He is the author of a “memoir of dangerous moviegoing” — Through a Screen Darkly. And his four-novel fantasy series, The Auralia Thread, which begins with Auralia's Colors, was published by Random House. He speaks at universities and conferences around the world about understanding art through eyes of faith. He is earning his MFA in Creative Writing at Seattle Pacific University, where he has worked for 11 years as an editor, writer, and communications project manager. His work has been recognized in The New Yorker, TIME, The Seattle Times, IMAGE, Ravi Zacharias International — and Christianity Today, where he served as a film journalist for more than a decade. He recently began a weekly column called "Listening Closer" for Christ and Pop Culture.