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Saturday, January 12, 2013

For the Child at Heart, A Delightful Movie

A few days ago I saw the Dreamworks' animated movie, Rise of the Guardians. I also happen to be doing a side-by-side read of Manalive by G.K. Chesterton and Mr. Blue by Miles Connolly. What a combination and a celebration of child-likeness. And the fact is that it was just happenstance that led my husband and me to choose the film. We wanted to take my stroke-incapacitated brother out to a movie and dinner. All the other films were too long and too late, so we shrugged and went for the kid flick. I'm so glad we did!

The theme of the movie is the battle between good and evil, in this case for the hearts and minds of the children. Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and the Sandman are lined up defending the children's faith in their existence against the evil anti-here "Pitch" (for Pitch dark) who wants to turn all their faith and hope to fear and fill their dreams with nightmares. The good guys face a tough situation and need help and the Man in the Moon has chosen Jack Frost, a flighty, fun-loving Peter Pan type, as the new guardian to bolster the group.

The guardians are anything but conventional. Santa is no ho-ho jolly elf, but a gruff Russian who reminds me of Peter's grandfather, oboe tones and all. I could imagine him appearing to a child saying, "Do not fear, little Mary. I bring you good tidings of great joy." The Easter Bunny is no honey bun either, but a  large jackrabbit with an Australian accent and a no-nonsense style. He has no time for Jack Frost's antics. The tooth fairy is sweet and her little helpers are like busy bees collecting and storing teeth in her castle "hive" to preserve all the children's memories of childhood which are preserved within. Sandman, whose power against the evil Pitch is significant, is a mute golden star who fills the heavens with twinkling ropes of golden sand like sparklers shimmering and glowing in the night sky. Jack Frost, around whom the plot revolves, wants to know who he is and longs to know his real purpose in life. Basically, he has an identity crisis. In joining the guardians, he begins to explore what he's really made of and why the Man in the Moon has chosen him.

Pitch reminded me of the androgynous demon in The Passion of the Christ. He is the bogieman of childhood and his minions are fierce black stallions that look like the ringwraiths in Lord of the Rings. He is eager to temp Jack to join him and "become somebody" creating a frozen nightmare world where every loses all hope and succumbs to fear.

The director has borrowed ideas from all over the place and put them together in such a novel way he has created something entirely new. Santa carries a snow globe that allows him to go from the North Pole at warp speed anywhere on the planet like the spaceships in Star Wars. Among Santa's elves are furry monsters (yetis) that could be related to wookies. Jack takes the children on some exciting sleigh rides dodging cars and trucks like adventure movie chase scenes and some of his creations remind me of the winter scenes in Fantasia. The entire movie is a continuous changing palette of dancing color.

I think Chesterton and Connolly would have been charmed by this movie that is so filled with the joy of life. We all came out smiling. My sister called the next day to ask what we did with my brother; he was cheerful and chatty and upbeat after a difficult Christmas season. All I can say is, "Heck if I know, but we sure had a good time as well." Take your kids and grandkids to Rise of the Guardians before it leaves theaters. I'm going again, that's for sure!

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