With the words “We waited until the last of my children arrived before taking my father off of life support…” Jason Hildebrand’s portrayal and Mike Janzen’s piano breathe life into Greg Paul’s words in Breathe…
Breathe… is a film version of the stage play co-created by Hildebrand and Tom Carson with music by Janzen. Inspired by Paul’s award-winning book, Close Enough to Hear God Breathe, the play explores the “story of a man who never heard ‘I love you’ from his father, searching through the characters of his life to find – ‘I love you’.”
The scenes in Breathe… derive from a variety of sources:
Paul’s own life: in the opening vignette, “father…”, the opening vignette, tells the story of the last day’s of Paul’s father. “soapbox preacher…” tells how Paul’s grandfather was saved through the ministry of a Hamilton street evangelist.
Every aspect of Breathe… depicts the deepest need of the human heart: intimacy with God.
Scripture: “baptist…” portrays Jesus baptism by his cousin John (and effectively uses a rolling fog effect to portray the Jordan River). “feast…” invites all to be close enough to hear God breathe and celebrate His feast.
Paul’s ministry to the street-involved: “rob…” a poignant portrayal of a man succumbing to the demons of addiction that he’d long fought. “leonard…” a childhood friend of Paul’s who wonders if “God could love me like my grandmother does.”
The sparse set, for the most part, comprises only Hildebrand and Janzen at a grand piano. And, occasionally, a wooden chair. The lighting for each scene (predominantly white, with only a few color settings) helps set the mood, with a fog effect being used to depict smoke, clouds or water.
Along with restrained camera work, Breathe… gives the viewer the chance to be caught up in each story as Hildebrand brings to life the unforgettable characters Paul depicted on the page: from the gruffness of his father, to the lost innocence of Leonard, from the bewilderment of a street preacher, to the tenderness of a father with his newborn daughter.
Janzen’s score to Breathe… is as integral to the film as Hildebrand’s acting. Without it, Leonard’s story would be less poignant, the feast less meaningful and the father’s time with his newborn daughter less tender. But it’s not just the music. Janzen uses a looping effect to provide sound effects for a couple of scenes, including the bustle of Hamilton’s steel industry in the 1920s.
Every aspect of Breathe… – Hildebrand’s acting, Janzen’s music and the filmmaking – depicts the deepest need of the human heart: intimacy with God. For some, it will raise more questions than it answers. For others, it will provide the answers to their questions. For all, it will move them towards that moment where they’re “close enough to hear God breathe.”
For more information on Breathe… go to http://www.jasonhildebrand.com
To listen to an Arts Connection interview with Jason Hildebrand and Mike Janzen talk about the creation of the stage version of Breathe… check http://tinyurl.com/h73s62e
And for more on how you can support Arts Connection go to: https://www.gofundme.com/artsconnection