(Photos courtesy of http://pricelessthemovie.com/)
Why Chivalry Isn’t Dead
Joel Smallbone (for KING & COUNTRY) Chats ‘Priceless’ Movement and Movie
By Sarah Komisky
Many of us ladies have heard about them in the fairy tales. As little girls we believed they were real but became less confident in them as we grew up. While we have counted on fairies and fiery dragons to stay in the world of imagination, contrary to belief, gentlemen do exist. Yes, they do exist beyond the Middle Ages and even in the 21st century. No, they don’t wear that shiny armor, carry a sword, or say “my lady.” Yet they do possess the character we’ve read about such as valor, courage, loyalty, and chivalry. How do I know this is true? Well, I have met a few in my lifetime. One of them happens to be the very man I interviewed.
Joel Smallbone (of the band, for KING & COUNTRY) has devoted his career to a cause: chivalry. Banding together with his band mate and brother, Luke, the two, after entering relationships years ago, began sharing the Priceless message. As love, commitment, and romance relationships were, in his words, very “keen” on their hearts and minds, he explained, “We shared a real simple message kind of internally to us and to men to be chivalrous in how we love. And to women, celebrating a woman’s worth and encouraging ladies that they deserve to be treated with the utmost respect and honor.”
This eventually led the duo to create the “Priceless Necklace,” a framed Australian coin used as a pendant with the word inscribed on the front. Receiving a huge response from men and women alike, Smallbone notes that it was both exciting and also a little alarming to see this really severe response saying, “our generation was almost like they were starving for this affirmation.”
Seeing the need to take action, Smallbone approached his brother Ben, a filmmaker, with the idea of taking the Priceless message to the silver screen. Knowing there was a story to be told from the movement and message, his brother quickly came on board.
Ben pulled from a documentary he made years prior and drew inspiration from that true story and then incorporated the priceless message to create the baseline for the film. Smallbone, who plays the leading man James in the film, comments, “Literally from that moment Sarah, from inception of the story to handing it to screen writers, to pulling in these great actors and producers from New York and LA, to acting in the film obviously on my behalf and my producers and Ben directing it, now to promoting it and it being out in theatres nationwide, we’ve been kind of a part of every piece of the pie and got our hands in it and been a part of the whole journey. It’s been that hardest project I’ve ever worked on but it’s been incredibly rewarding for sure.”
With a cast of incredible actors like Bianca Santos (“The Duff”), Amber Midthunder (“Longmire”), Jim Parrack (“Suicide Squad,” “True Blood”) and David Koechner (“Anchorman,” “The Goldbergs”), the effective first film for the Smallbone brothers has recently hit theaters this October. Dubbing it himself a drama and a thriller, Joel Smallbone mainly refers to the movie as a love story saying, “It’s a love story between a father and a daughter. It’s a love story between two sisters and the sacrifices they make for each other. And in the end, it’s a love story between a man and woman, between James and Antonia.”
In a very real way, the film also brings awareness to the issue of human trafficking and the victimization of women that ties with the brothers’ passion for standing up for respect of women. Before addressing the Marked Ministry audience specifically regarding what it means to be priceless, Smallbone first openly shared how the message first spoke to him and his brother Luke sharing, “We have had a natural instinct as young men. I think we’ve had the opportunity to really ask ourselves some pretty internal questions, pretty hard questions. And I’m going to be very candid Sarah in saying half the message is for us. Luke is a father of two and I’ve been married for three years, three months, and fourteen days and so, there’s a very internal struggle inside each man in this modern context.”
He continues, “And then I think as a sort of domino effect from that, there’s a real struggle it seems inside women: who am I and how can I be attractive towards men? How can I attract the right man? And then the price a lot of women pay in sort of sacrificing whether it’s their bodies, their ideologies, or their heart for the sake of just trying to find a guy that will accept them. And it seems as though, family-wise, I’m not hopeless, I’m very hopeful but in the present moment, there’s a bit of confusion going on. I had someone say the other day that men are looking for sex and finding love, and women are looking for love and finding sex.
Shifting his thoughts, Smallbone then shares a word for both men and women saying, “My hope at the moment in the era where the more primitive side of a man, the hunter, the aggressor, the sensual is really been glorified and this, which I believe is the truer definition of a Man with a capital M, is chivalrous, noble, committed, stand by a woman through thick and thin, that side of a man is really being quieted and is really discouraged, that there will be men that raise up and say you know what, no, I am of God and I am going to be the man that I am designed to be. And then, for women, that they will say hey, my definition is not found in a man. It’s not found in my figure. It’s not found in my looks. It’s found in that fact that I am an image bearer of God. And that I have strength and character in spite of extreme circumstances. In spite of what’s been done to me or said about me, that I’m not defined by that. And that’s really Antonia and that’s really a hero in this film. That’s what she portrays so beautifully.”
When asked about what he has learned in retrospect of making this film and now promoting it, he paused and collected his thoughts in commenting that when you’re in the process of it, it’s all about working through things expressing, “It’s sort of the age-old comment that the teacher is now becoming the most taught in the classroom you know? And I feel that very deeply; that it’s a process of working on the script and talking through this and asking all the questions and really refining these characters. You have to look inside yourself.”
In his closing comments, Smallbone shared something incredible insightful, vulnerable, and inspiring as a young man who desires to live for God. He said, “And then there’s just the whole cost of doing this film, being away from my wife. The fact that the time that we shot the film in September of last year was a very critical moment for my wife and I in our marriage and there were things that we had to work through beyond that. That’s what things can do in a relationship and in life, they can grow you and mold you and shape you in new ways even. And so, I feel like He’s just asking me to lean in to love and marriage and commitment. It’s surprised me, frankly Sarah, to really continue to work as a man on protecting my eyes and my heart, in particularly being a public figure, from other women and saving that for my wife. And it’s challenged me too to understand that as men, we’re all but for grace and but for understanding our God designed purpose. We’re all in this sinking ship of objectifying a woman or over-sexualizing a woman rather than embracing her for her character and strength and who she is under God.”
Altogether the core of the Priceless message points to the author of chivalry and the most valiant man of all, Jesus Christ. Smallbone’s words are simply a reflection of that and a reminder that good men, godly men, exist. Hopefully, with these words imparted to us, we can all be inspired to live as were designed to be – priceless. Parting ways, I thanked him for his time and acknowledged how much I valued his ministry with for KING & COUNTRY and with his wife, Moriah Peters. He ended in true gentlemanly fashion replying, “Thank you dear, I really appreciate that.”
You can check out the movie “Priceless” at a theatre near you and find out more about the film and how you can help end modern day slavery at: http://pricelessthemovie.com/