So, I just watched Rise of the Guardians. (This is September 23, but I'm not planning to post this until December). My dad Netflixed it because he thought I'd like it. I'd heard some good reviews of it, but didn't know much about the movie except that it was about traditional mythological figures, like Santa Claus and Jack Frost.
I've just finished the movie, and though I risk sounding like some weird conspiracy theorist, am I the only one who feels like subliminal messages are being portrayed in this film? (Ok, so technically every film, book, song, and work of art has a subliminal message - something the maker / writer wants the audience to subconsciously absorb through their work. And in the maker's defense, sometimes we don't realise we are portraying messages in everything we do... but we are; that's because we all have a worldview, which is such a big part of our lives that it makes its way into everything we do and what we are).
Let me just mention a few...
1. Santa Claus (or "North", as he is apparently called) hands Jack Frost a Russian doll which opens up to reveal several versions of himself (Santa Claus, that is). When Jack reaches the smallest doll, North says, "But at my center..." Jack Frost says confusedly, "there's a tiny wooden baby." North is actually going to point out that the baby has huge eyes, which represent the wonder that he, Santa Claus, supposedly gives to the children of the world. But ironically (or was it on purpose?) the filmmakers have discovered the true meaning of CHRISTmas - a tiny baby who was born for a purpose, a purpose greater than bringing wonder, a purpose greater than making us smile and laugh. A purpose to save us from eminent death and to give us eternal life. A small, helpless child who is often portrayed as a tiny wooden baby in manger scenes all around America. Subliminal message? You decide.
2. Jack wonders what his purpose is on the world - why is here, and why he was chosen. Not chosen by God, or by fate, but by the "Man in Moon". Why we are here, and what is our purpose in life? Those are, like, the top two questions asked by mankind. Obviously however, this movie doesn't have the real answers.
Throughout the movie Jack struggles to find his "center". Frost's "center" is wonder. Jack discovers his "center" is "fun". Ummm, for Christians our center should be Jesus. Just a thought there.
3. (Quote from Imdb) "We go by many names, and take many forms. We bring wonder and hope, we bring joy and dreams... our powers are greater than you imagine..." Call me far-fetched, but as I watched this movie I was reminded of the Egyptian "gods". Maybe you've heard about how each of the plagues God sent upon Egypt were in response to each of the Egyptian so-called "gods" (for example, it has been suggested that the water turning to blood miracle was an attack on Hapi, "Spirit of the Nile", and the boils were attacks on the gods of healing, Serapis and Imhotep, and the god of epidemics, Sekhmet. I found this online here if you wanna check it out...) It made me think of how non-Israelites viewed the Israelite religion of one God as strange. They thought the more gods they had, the more powerful they were. Interestingly enough, it almost seemed like God's powers were divided up into these mythological creatures. God used to speak to people through dreams - Sandman sends dreams. God judges good and evil - so does Santa, though he is extremely lenient. God - not Jack Frost - controls the weather (and not just the snow - ALL of it!). God gives us life - regeneration and redemption through Jesus' death and resurrection. Lastly, God knows all about us - and He doesn't need to keep our memories in teeth, either. :p Most of all, His power IS greater than we can imagine. I'm not saying that the moviemakers meant for these characters to take on aspects of God - I know that Santa Claus, Jack Frost, the Toothfairy, etc. were not created by this movie, but it's just a thought.
4. Also, it seems that many Santa Claus movies require the children to believe in them, or else the lose their power. I've always thought Santa Claus is often made out to be a copycat of God / Jesus. God rewards good and evil, and knows all about us - He knows when we're awake, sleeping, good, or bad. But His power does not diminish when people foolishly refuse to believe in Him. God can exist without us - He doesn't need us. But amazingly enough, He loves us and cares about us anyway.
5. A little boy, Jamie, who refuses to stop believing in the guardians meets Jack Frost and questions him, "What if we stop believing in you?" "Hey, slow down, slow down!" Jack protests. "Are you telling me to stop believing in the moon when the sun comes up?"Jamie replies, "No." "Well," Jack counters, "do you stop believing in the sun when the clouds block it out?" "No," Jamie says again. "We'll always be there, Jamie," Jack promises, "and now, we'll always be here." He points to Jamie's heart and adds, "which kind of makes you a guardian too." This made me think of the fact that God sends His Holy Spirit to live in us and help us to do right. This does not mean we are partially divine, but it means that God loves us and will help us to obey Him. Call me crazy, but I couldn't help drawing a parallel with the guardian-in-your-heart scene.
6. The last lines of the movie are, "My name is Jack Frost. And I'm a Guardian. How do I know that? Because the moon told me so. So when the moon tells you something, believe it." Ummm... NO. What's the right answer? When the movies tell you something, believe it (without a "shadow of a doubt)? No. When your friends tell you something, believe it automatically? No. Even when your parents something, believe it just because they told you? Yes, trust them, but check their words against the Bible. It's not because you don't trust them, it's because you want to grow spiritually and make sure you have your own relationship with God and you aren't just copying what your parents do. I'm getting this idea from Acts 17:11 - "These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find our whether these things were so." Paul commended the Bereans for comparing his words against the Bible's! It wasn't necessarily because the people did not trust Paul or because they did not respect or like him. They were simply being discerning and wanted to make sure what he was saying was true! No, the correct answer is: If the Bible tells you something, believe it.
Issues of faith seem to be popular in Santa Claus movies. Children question whether Santa Claus is real. In Rise of the Guardians, Jamie begs for a sign that the Easter Bunny is real. This scene struck home to me as I remember several years ago struggling deeply with my faith and asking God to please send me a sign that I was His child. But eventually I realized that part of our Christian walk is faith. Yes, our faith is well-founded. Archaeology, history, and science supports the Bible. But not everything can be proven 100%; not everything can be seen with our human eyes. Some things take faith. It bothered me, however, how so many aspects of this movie seemed to parallel or copy Christian beliefs. It's almost as if, when the children who watch this movie are grown, they will throw away their Christian beliefs along with the childish fairytales of Santa Claus, the Easter bunny, and the Tooth Fairy. My parents decided not to pretend Santa was real, because they were afraid when I discovered that he wasn't real, that I would think Jesus wasn't real either. I'm not trying to judge whether or not you believed in Santa Claus as a child - I'm only trying to point out the dangers of movies like this. It's not that you shouldn't watch them - that's for you to decide. I just want you to be careful and discerning. Please filter Hollywood's messages through a Biblical worldview. Don't take it at "face-value". Be a Berean and test what the world is saying against the scriptures.
Lastly, a thought struck me - the moon has no light of its own. It doesn't make its own light. Are we taking that the world is giving us - a pathetic replica of that is true - and calling it light? The true light is not the moon but the sun. The true light is not so-called wonder, hope, joy and dreams, but the Light of the World - Jesus, whose birth was marked by a bright star shining in the sky one night many years ago. Jesus, a tiny baby who is the Light of the World. He brought us hope in the form of redemption, joy in that we can have joy in our struggles and trials knowing that we have eternity with God, dreams in that God has a plan for us, and wonder in that God loves us SO MUCH, so much that we can't even comprehend it. That's what CHRISTmas is about. That's the true light.