Disney seems to be on an anti-traditional true love kick. There are things about this that I appreciate like a little tongue-in-cheek laughing at one’s self like you see in Frozen when Anna ‘falls’ in love with Hans. I also appreciate the nod to other types of love that lead to sacrifice like family relationships. But, what I don’t like is the removal of the male-female true love relationship.
I know many parents who are probably breathing a sigh of relief that their daughters can watch Frozen or Maleficent without getting their heads filled with false notions of Prince Charming falling madly in love with them, charging in on a white horse, and rescuing them from their parents and all that’s horrible in their life. But, before we all jump on this band wagon, let’s think through it just a bit as people and as Christians.
The Bible uses lots of different familial relationships to teach us about our relationship with God. It calls God our Father. Christ is referred to as our brother. We call one another brother and sisters in Christ. But, one of the strongest descriptions in the Bible, in fact, one of the strongest running themes in the Bible is the idea of Christ and his Bride. Christ and his Church are shown to the world through our marriage relationships. This relationship is shown in the love of a man for a woman, the act of getting married, and then living a life committed to one another until death do us part. This is a very important concept and one we don’t want to throw away too quickly.
Now, I think what Disney and parents might be reacting against is the harsh reality of realizing love at first sight is just the doorway into a loving relationship, not the basis of the relationship. True Love can’t be based on an emotion. When we teach our children that they can have a marriage relationship based upon an emotion we’re setting them up for failure. Thus, we’ve reached a point where we think we’ve found a Truer Love in the relationship between sisters, and the relationship between god-mother and child.
What we’ve missed completely is that, just like those relationships, true love is not an emotion. It is a daily choice to be loyal, supportive, and sacrificial for the sake of someone else. No two sisters love emotionally. Trust me. I have four sisters. Do we all just feel loving towards each other all the time??? No. Of course not. But we’re a family. We love each other. We stand up for each other. We’re loyal to each other. If only more people would see their marriages that way.
Fairy tales are not to be taken as gospel truth; we have the gospel for that. What they are supposed to do, like all fantasy and superhero stories, is exaggerate good and evil so that for a short time we can see the glory of good triumphing and be encouraged to get back in our own battles.
While I somewhat sympathies with what Frozen and Maleficent are trying to say, it also concerns me that they decide that the male-female love relationship is okay to downplay or get rid of all together.
Now, just a few thoughts on Maleficent itself. SPOILERS!!!
One, I found it very odd that her name is Maleficent from beginning to end. Just a thought, it’s very hard to make the name Maleficent good. Even after seeing the movie, I don’t have a warm fuzzy when I hear Maleficent. I still shudder a bit. I think giving her a good version of this name would have been wise, like Magnificent or something, if you want to tie the names together.
I thought the movie started out strong, got realllllllly slow through the middle, and finished rather poorly. It was fun. The setting was very pretty. But I didn’t think the movie was very logical. I think they tried to show a heart broken by false love and healed by true love, but instead of doing a mirror image, they used a different type of love. The pain and suffering in the movie was one only parents and mostly just women could understand and relate too. King Stefan was crazy which didn’t make his anti-relationship with Maleficent understandable, it just made it kinda strange.
There were a few moments I laughed at, but not many. There were a few moments I sort of choked up, but not really. Godzilla hooked me more emotionally than Maleficent did. Again, the filming was beautiful, and they tried to show you Maleficent changing as she gets to know Aurora, but the ending didn’t seem to match the rest of the movie. It would have been better if they had stuck to the story. Let me pity Maleficent, but have her stay the villain of the film. That would have been amazing. Or at least have her be forgiven and forgive in a real way. Aurora gets anger at her for a few minutes for putting her under a curse, but ultimately Maleficent faces very little punishment for her crime. King Stefen betrays her, sinks into madness, and dies. The only real moment with him is when he pleads for his daughter’s life. The rest of the time, you really don’t care about him, you just wonder how he has kept the kingdom going for so many years.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for saving sinners type stories, undeserved rescues, and what not. I love anti-hero moves for that reason. But in an attempt to re-tell this fairy tale, I think they lost a lot of its strengths. There was no moment when Prince Philip was armed with the sword of Truth and the shield of Righteousness so he could defeat the dragon. At the end, the only character I cared about was Maleficent’s crow. He was the only one I was rooting for, the only one I cared if they lived or died, and he was the one I thought should have woken Aurora with a kiss. He loved her, and wasn’t trapped by a broken love.
So, there were a few moving scenes, but ultimately little story. I think there were some opportunities to make the good less pure and the evil less dark. There was room to write a redemption story. There was a chance to mirror a bad love and a healthy love. Instead, it was a plodding, boring story where the only person I cared about was a man who promised to serve Maleficent, fell in love with a golden haired child, laid his life on the line for her, and lived to see her grow up into a beautiful young lady. I think the crow is the real hero of this movie. Maleficent never learns of the power of the love between a man and a woman. Stefen only catches a glimpse of his daughter loving Maleficent, but doesn’t really understand what is going on so he doesn’t learn the power of love. Aurora doesn’t ever really deal with her father’s betrayal, but everything’s all right in the end, not to worry! 🙂
Yep. I like the crow the best.
PS. Even with my above mentioned concerns, I did enjoy Frozen. It was cute and funny. I didn’t feel the same way about Maleficent. I felt disappointed.