Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Gospel According to Beauty and the Beast


MUSINGS
The Disney Company found another goldmine in the release of the 3D version of The Lion King. So great was that goldmine, that the company decided to do it again with 1991’s Beauty and the Beast. The 3D effects are quite nice. Instead of a more rounded or realistic look in modern 3D movies, this resembles a 3D ViewMaster reel or a pop up story book with different layers. The most impressive shots are those that include weather like snow and rain. However, as nice as they are, they are hardly necessary.

Beauty is the third film of the famed “Disney Renaissance” period after The Little Mermaid and The Lion King and was the first animated film ever to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture. (And that was when they only allowed 5 pictures to compete for that title.) Even without the 3D hoopla, the film is beautiful as is. It tells a great story with memorable songs and characters. At the very least, this reissue is a good excuse to see the film back on the big screen.

An extra special bonus is the new Tangled short about the wedding of Rapunzel and her prince. However, the story is more about the horse and gecko chases after the bridal parties’ rings. It is hilarious and almost worth the price of admission by itself.
Like many Disney animated pictures, Beauty is a simple story that tackles some pretty deep themes:

Entertaining Angels Unaware
“Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Hebrews 13:2 (KJV)

At the very beginning of the story an old beggar woman offers a young prince a rose in exchange for a night’s stay out of the weather. Disgusted with her appearance, he turns her away unaware that she is actually a beautiful enchantress in disguise. Because of the prince’s selfishness, she casts a spell over him turning him into a hideous beast and his servants into furniture and household items.  This is similar to the verse, Hebrews 13:2. This isn’t to say that your guardian angel is armed and ready to change you into a creature at a moment’s notice, but more  of a challenge for us to act in a way that is honoring to God whether someone is watching us or not.

Christians are Odd
“You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” Matthew 10:22 (NIV)

Belle loves books more than people. She loves to learn, dreams of leaving her small town and wishes she could see the world. Because of this, all the townspeople think she is odd. As Christians, we sometimes get the same treatment. We love God’s book and we long for a better afterlife in heaven.

Sacrifice
“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13 (NIV)

When Belle’s father, Maurice, is thrown into the Beast’s dungeon due to his trespassing into the castle, Belle offers to take his place. Maurice of course objects to this arrangement but is thrown outside before Belle can change her mind. She would rather sacrifice her life as a slave of the Beast than to have her father face a similar fate.

Kindness
“Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?” Romans 2:4 (NIV)

After a fit of anger the Beast chases Belle away. Soon, she and her horse are attacked by wolves. Surprisingly, they are both rescued by the Beast but he falls due to his injuries. Belle turns to leave but decides to care for the Beast instead. The Beast is touched by Belle’s decision and in return offers to give her his entire library.

Unconditional Love
“But God show his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 (ESV)

At the climax of the story, the Beast lays dying in Belle’s arms. In tears, she whispers that she loves him, the hideous Beast. Suddenly, the Beast is revived and turns back into the handsome prince, but Belle doesn’t recognize him. It’s not until she looks into his eyes and sees that they are the same that she rejoices in his salvation.  Belle was able to accept Beast as he was unconditionally. The fact that he was really a handsome prince was just a bonus.

          

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