Category Archives: Movies

When a Princess Meets Reality

I grew up watching Beauty and the Beast. The yellow-wearing princess has always been my favorite of the Disney lineup, and songs like “Be Our Guest” or “Tale as Old as Time” bring back nostalgic childhood memories like few others.

There’s just something about princess stories. We have pulled application from them before, and preschoolers aren’t the only girls drawn to them, as evidenced by The Princess Diaries and even William and Kate’s televised wedding.

So a Disney live-action remake? Count me in.

Sad, Sad Story

I finally watched it recently, and was not disappointed. The music, the animation, the effects—all blew me away right down memory lane.

There were a few things I didn’t remember. (For sure, this Disney remake had more controversy than Cinderella, but this post is neither a review nor an endorsement. Everyone needs to make their own decisions on movie choices, and if you would like more information before making yours, please check reviews like this one by Focus on the Family.) There were a handful of scenes and songs that I don’t recall from the animated version, but then I haven’t watched it in awhile.

In one memorable scene, Belle is beginning to realize the hopelessness of the castle residents as they live under the spell. Will anything change for them? Mrs. Potts firmly tells her not to worry about them, and the housewares calmly—but a bit sadly—begin to walk away.

In Disney fashion, a song breaks out, begun by the Beast as a child and joined in by Maestro Cadenza, Lumiere, Mrs. Potts, and others. They sing of days gone by that they wish they could see again, and wonder if they will ever see the end of this spell.

Then the focus returns to Belle. “How in the midst of all this sorrow, can so much hope and love endure?” she asks. No one answers.

“I was innocent and certain, now I’m wiser but unsure. I can’t go back into my childhood, one that my father made secure; I can feel a change in me, I’m stronger now, but still not free.”

Belle and the Beast had already begun to experience the love the enchantress spoke of, but still the effects of the spell bound everyone in the house. It was sad—really sad. But hopeful.

We know another story like that.

Spells and Curses

Just days after I finally watched the Disney remake, and not far from where I live, a young bride and groom were in a car accident the day after their wedding. Both passed away within forty-eight hours.

How does hope still live with something like this?

In less traumatic ways, every single one of us knows that life is hard. There are griefs and regrets, hard and draining things that sap our energy and—sometimes—make us wish for that childhood we remember as so carefree.

All of creation groans under a spell of its own, a curse (Romans 8:22-23), wondering if it will ever be broken. Love has come and broken it, sacrificing Himself for our freedom, but still we live here. We are different, for sure, but still here in this mess, and still not experiencing in full the freedom Jesus gave us.

How do we live in this dark world when we know we are made for and set free for a greater one? How do we keep our hope and love one other when we’re constantly surrounded by sadness that only seems to get worse?

“How in the midst of all this sorrow, can so much hope and love endure?”

Real Hope for Real Pain

We are in the midst of so much sorrow. But it is temporary sorrow—still very, very real, and oh so hard, but temporary. “Take heart,” Jesus told us. “I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). And all the sorrow in it.

Our hope doesn’t ignore or deny any of this pain. If anything, as followers of the God whose own Son died a horrific death, we know that pain and suffering and grief and trouble are undeniable and painful. But in our grief and trouble, we remember that the Son who died also rose again; He is now living victorious and extends that victory—and life—to us.

We know the spell is already broken.

This pain is real, yes. But so is hope—an unshakeable hope founded in God who promised that there is an eternity of life and love waiting for those who are His children. We can bank on it.

We can know that every tear will be wiped away.

We can know that there is something so beyond our belief waiting for us—and for those we love who love God, too.

We can know that the purpose of our lives goes beyond our time on earth, and that at the end of that time we will not be absorbed into soulless oblivion—or turned into inanimate objects (“Rubbish,” Cogsworth insists).“This world is a great sculptor’s shop,” C.S. Lewis wrote. “We are the statues and there’s a rumor going around the shop that some of us are someday going to come to life.” It’s not just a rumor: it’s real, and it’s coming.

The sorrow is still here. It will be for awhile. But hope and love endure with it, and one day we will fully, completely, finally come to life.

Image source: Disney

What Cinderella Taught Me about the Body of Christ

“Would who she was—who she really was—be enough? There was no magic to help her this time. This is perhaps the greatest a risk that any of us will take: to be seen as we truly are.”

With that phrase Disney’s most recent Cinderella (2015) distanced itself from the animated version of my childhood.  I watched as the unloved stepdaughter emerged from the attic, coming face to face with the prince of her dreams and the memory of her night of escape. She didn’t know if the glass slipper in his hands would fit without her fairy godmother’s spell. Would her deepest longings come true? Or would the magic be lost—forever?

Photo source

We can empathize with Cinderella’s gamble: It is risky. What if others see who we really are deep down inside? Will they see our struggles and oddities and decide we’re more trouble than we’re worth? Will they catch a glimpse of our insecurities and walk away before they are entangled in our issues?

Will we be enough to keep them from turning away? Continue reading What Cinderella Taught Me about the Body of Christ

“The Drop Box: How 500 Abandoned Babies, An Act of Compassion, and A Movie Changed My Life Forever”

In 2011, the Los Angeles Times ran an article on a South Koreanivie_dropbox pastor grieved over the number of abandoned babies in his country. Families would leave their babies—often born with special needs—in the harsh winter elements. Many didn’t survive. As he wondered how he could help people in desperate situations, he decided to build a baby box that he installed in a wall in his house. Parents could anonymously leave their baby in the box where he or she would be safe. Through this box the pastor and his wife rescued disabled orphans and adopted several of them. They embraced the same children that others discarded. And people noticed.

A Californian film student read the article and immediately saw the possibility of the story. He contacted the pastor to ask about doing a documentary, and a few years later, The Drop Box was completed.

But there is more to making a movie than what we see onscreen. In this case, there was much more.

In The Drop Box (talking about the book now), director Brian Ivie begins by telling about his childhood interest in films and filmmaking. Growing up he watched multiple movies every weekend, and he often roped in the neighbor kids (and even his dad) to make home movies he directed. Throughout the book Brian also reveals relational strains between him and his family and his eventual pornography habit.

But then, during his junior year in college, Brian read about the South Korean pastor. Here was a real story—he knew that from his years of watching stories. This would be the movie he would make. Maybe he would take it to a festival. Maybe he would win an award.

So Brian and a team he gathered traveled to South Korea to meet a pastor. Very quickly Ivie recognized the differences in their goals for this movie. “‘I don’t want it to be about me,’” Pastor Lee told him. “‘It needs to be about saving lives.’”

Soon Brian met an unexpected character in the story, the Lees’ biological adult son, Eun-man. Due to a medical condition, Eun-man lives in a dark room of the house, unable to do anything for himself. His parents and other caretakers feed, clothe, and bathe him, as well as provide routine, nauseating medical care on a daily basis.

Brian came home with hours upon hours of footage—and continued bondage to his sin.

Who bought what?

“When people would ask me why God existed, I had answers in the chamber…I knew about the plans of God and the beautiful purposes God has for our lives. I knew about the goodness of God and the provision of God. I knew that God cared about me personally and that He was real. But when people would ask me about the cross, that’s when I had to repeat somebody else’s words. On the first trip, I really flaunted my wooden cross necklace, you know, the one I bought on Amazon for eight dollars…But at some point, the cross can’t just be something you buy on Amazon. It has to be what bought you.”

God continued to work on Brian’s heart. One day he listened to a sermon by Mark Driscoll that grabbed him from the first point. He realized not only that he was a sinner and that God could rescue him, but also that God provided the love of a father he hadn’t known he needed.

“It was the first time I realized why God wanted me to meet Eun-man, the child who couldn’t offer anything to anybody except problems. For the first time in my life, I realized I was just one of those kids too, with nothing to offer a perfect God except my sin. I was a broken child, bound up in the dark and then suddenly pulled out through the laundry room, by a Father, into the light.”

The Baby in the Box

He pulled out his footage and notes again. The movie would go a new direction. But he needed to see Pastor Lee again.

Brian and his team were once again welcomed into Pastor’s Lee’s home, this time with all the excitement as if he were a returning family member. And with his recent conversion, he was.

During their visit, as they were playing with the children, the alarm sounded. Pastor Lee and his wife weren’t there, but everyone else leapt into action. There was a baby in the box.

Before his salvation, when Brian directed movies with his friends, he saw the people around him as props instead of souls. When he first visited South Korea, he carried the same attitude. But this time, as a child of God, watching the rescue of a baby, Brian saw things—and people—differently.

“I did know he and I weren’t that different. Because I was an orphan once. Even with nice parents and a nice house, I was an orphan in my heart. I was begging for people to love me, to approve of me, to want me. And what I learned is that when you’re an orphan, even just in your heart, you can love only those who will love you back…But as a child of God, you can be completely alone and still love people who have abandoned you…[W]e’re all orphans until we know how much we’re loved.”

Amazing

Brian’s life kept changing. His family life, his goals, his dating relationships. He shares his journey with openness, and his tongue-in-cheek humor coupled with countless movie references makes for a leisurely read. The movie did go to a festival, but I’ll let Brian tell you about that.

The Drop Box (the movie) tells an inspiring story of a man loved by God who spends his strength and time loving others. The Drop Box (the book) shows us how those stories can inspire new stories. Stories just as amazing.

“So, yeah, I became a Christian while making a movie. And that’s funny to me because before that, movies were God to me. They were everything. Just like success or fame or security is to other people…If I’m honest, I have to admit that when I went to meet this man in South Korea, I thought I was there to save a bunch of helpless kids. But the funny thing about God is He is always the Savior. Because when it comes down to it, we’re all the ones who need to be saved.”