I have always been a fan of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. I memorize the songs. I think I also memorize the lines. I have fond memories of taking part in our high school musical play back in the day (okay, saying that just made me feel old).
The moment news of the animated film came out, I didn’t waste any time in telling my daughters about it! I think it’s not just me either. When the trailers started coming out, almost everyone in my news feed showed excitement over the fact that this movie “stayed true” to the original animated version.
And then came the news about controversial and compromising scenes about some of the characters. All of a sudden, it was panic that I was reading from the other moms of my generation. Should I still let my children watch the movie or not?? How do we explain it to our young kids??
As of this point, I still haven’t watched the movie, and would not be able to for at least another week. Which means I really haven’t started worrying about whether or not I will let my children watch the movie. I would most probably watch the movie first, and then decide from there.
I have not taken the time to read all the news articles and opposing views regarding the movie either. Based on the few posts that I’ve read, I just have a rough idea of what to expect.
I could expect that the movie stays a bit more faithful to the original version. (Which means I could sing along!!)
I could expect that the makers of this film would try to insert messages on sexuality that oppose Biblical worldview.
I could expect that those messages could either be used as an attempt to dictate a new normal or to reflect an existing culture and belief system in our society.
So, for those asking me about whether or not they should let their kids watch, I really have no answer yet. For those asking me how I would explain some scenes to my children, I will know if and when I do an initial screening of the movie.
Off the top of my head, though, and based solely on the original animated movie, I do know I would be using some scenes as points of discussion:
1. Belle’s relationship with her father
I like the relationship that Belle and her father share in the movie. Of course this is fiction, but I do believe that the reason why Belle wasn’t so much into boys as the other ladies in her town were was because of the close and loving relationship she shared with her dad. I think we can find a bit of truth in this. Dads play a significant role in a girl’s life. The relationship between a daughter and her father largely dictates how they see men when they grow up.
2. Belle’s honor for her father
Honor your father and mother, so it will go well with you. This is the first commandment with a promise.
In a culture where honor for parents is seldom displayed and celebrated, where teenagers are depicted as easily “embarrassed” of their folks when they start acting old fashioned and outdated, it is nice to see Belle show honor for her dad, despite the fact that he was somewhat of a laughingstock in their hometown. Her sacrifice and willingness to be held prisoner, and the moment she begged to be given a chance to take care of her ill father also show us how it is to honor others above our own dreams and above our own convenience.
3. As much as we all want to be Belle, the reality is we are all beasts.
What’s that? You don’t want to be the beast?
We can also easily fall into being Gastons.
We are Beast. We were all supposed to be prince and princesses– royal and with purpose– then sin and selfishness entered the picture and destroyed the original design.
We are Gaston. Left to our own pattern of thinking, we naturally think of ourselves. Whether we think too lowly or too highly of ourselves is not the point. The point is that since time began, humankind has always played by the survival of the fittest principle.
4. We are all in search for love that would make us complete.
Men and women alike–we are all searching for love, and love that is bigger than life. Too often, however, we settle for pseudo-love and pseudo-life.
Gaston loved himself without regard for anyone, thinking that would solve his need for love. The women who swooned over Gaston longed for his attention, thinking that would give them the affirmation they needed. The Beast and everyone in his castle waited for “the one” who could break the spell; “the one” who he could learn to love and who will love him in return. Belle wanted more than her provincial life.
I’m sure we’ve all heard this at some point, but there is a hole in each of our hearts that only God can fill. Only God can give us the true love we long for and the affirmation we need. Only God can teach us to love. Only God can give us abundant life.
5. The power of unconditional love
Contrary to popular belief, unconditional love doesn’t stop at accepting a person for who he or she is. Jesus demonstrates unconditional love by first giving up his rights and privileges as God the Son and becoming sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. He gave up life so He can give us life. He takes us just as we are, but He doesn’t leave us the way that we are. He takes us and transforms us.
In addition, God’s unconditional love does not just turn us from beast to beauties, nor from bad to good, but it brings us back from death to life.
6. We have all been given a rose.
We are all on limited time. Just like the awareness of time running out changed the way the people in the castle responded to Belle’s arrival, the awareness that our life here on earth is temporary should change the way we live and the way we love. Just like the awareness of time running out gave Lumiere and Mrs. Potts the urgency to find somebody the Beast could love, it should also give us a sense of urgency to love the way God does. It should change our priorities and our perspective. We don’t just live for the sake of surviving. We live loved. We live to love. We live to share God’s love. We live in light of eternity.
These points of discussion are really nothing new. The story of man’s brokenness and fallen nature and of God’s unconditional love that rescues and redeems is a tale that is as old as time. But it is still always a tale worth telling.