Others have reviewed the film much better than I, so I’ll leave it to them to give you more critical and overall reviews of the film. As for me, I liked much about the film—heh, especially the over-the-top Disney fairytale-ness of the opening animated scenes and the real-life clean up crew of birds, mice, rats and roaches that Giselle summons early in the film—but I particularly resonated with the dialogue about love that occurs throughout the film between Giselle and Robert (who we know will eventually fall in love and end up with Giselle).
Giselle and Robert couldn’t be more different in their experiences and understandings of love. Robert is jaded and skeptical when it comes to love because his wife left him and their young daughter years ago. He rejects the idea of any kind of “happily ever after,” telling Giselle at one point that “most marriages are considered a success if they manage not to end, period—forget about happiness.” Robert’s experience has skewed his view of love. For him, love doesn’t really exist and is relegated to the pages of fairytales.
Giselle, however, sees everything differently. She knows fairytales are real because that is where she comes from. In a sense, she sees through wider eyes and with a broader vision because she sees both worlds—ours as well as the one from which she comes. She knows love and happily-ever-afters are real because they are real in Andalasia. Giselle has an unwavering belief in the power of love, which in the film ultimately conquers death itself.
I found all this a good echo of biblical truth. Like Giselle, we were created for a different world. The one we are in isn’t working the way it was intended. But God is relentlessly at work to bring us and his creation back to the way we were meant to be. We are in the middle of that Story, but, like Giselle in her story, we know how it will end. We know there will be a happily-ever-after. And here in the middle of our Story, love is not only an echo of the world and life we were created for but also the presence and break-thru of the world as it was meant to be, is becoming and will be again. It is this Love that has-and-will conquer death once and for all.
Some of us seem to pick up on this more instinctively than others—and this film hints at that. At one point as Giselle and Robert are walking through Central Park, Giselle starts to break out into song about love. Robert is embarrassed and tries to get her to stop, but at that moment they are walking by a group of reggae musicians who pick up Giselle’s tune and start a park-wide song-and-dance number.
Robert doesn’t know what to think. “They know this song, too?” he says incredulously as he watches the musicians start to play, dance and sing along with Giselle. “I don’t know this song.”
No, he doesn’t—not yet, at least. But the musicians do. And I found that (whether it was intentional or not on the part of the filmmakers) particularly affirming of artists, who seem to be among those of us who more readily and eagerly embrace the Otherness and more-to-the-world nature of things around us. (For more on this theme, see my thoughts on August Rush, another New York set film I enjoyed.) And it is often the artist who reminds us of God’s truth, work and presence in the world, be it through poetry, stories, music, or images (and even food). In Soul Graffiti, Mark Scandrette encourages us to be open and receptive to the way artists see and express the world around us: “We follow the path of an artist by learning to taste, touch, see and hear how Yahweh is present and caring in our world.” Watching the musicians pick up Giselle’s tune reminded me of this.
Overall, we really enjoyed this film and I was delighted by how it invited me to consider our own Story.
(Images: Walt Disney)