Sharing God’s Story with Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride

I love Tim Burton movies. Not only is he one of my favorite directions, but some of his movies are high up on my list of favorite movies. While I don’t care for horror or slasher films, but I do enjoy a good dark Gothic tale. And Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride is one of those movies!

Spoilers Ahead!
The following discussion assumes that you have already seen Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride, do not plan to see it but want to discuss it what friends and family who have, or simply don’t care if the movie is “spoiled.” Consider yourself warned.

Although Corpse Bride is not my favorite Tim Burton movie, it is worth a watching!

Simply put Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride is about a Gothic love triangle. The Corpse Bride (Helena Bonham Carter – Voice) loves Victor Van Dort (Johnny Depp – Voice).Victor, however, loves Victoria Everglot (Emily Watson – Voice), who loves him back. The hitch is that Victor, though a small misunderstanding, marries the Corpse Bride. What plays out is a stunningly subtle love story extolling the importance of sacrifice and humility.

Corpse Bride, a Reel Parable

While there is much that many Christians/Churches may not like about this movie (a non-biblical view of the afterlife, ghosts, hauntings, occult-like images, etc.) there is much about Corpse Bride that is actually very biblical. At its core, Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride is indeed a Reel Parable teaching us two very specific biblical truths;

  • True love is a sacrificial love.
  • The afterlife is not something to fear but is instead freeing, liberating, and to be enjoyed forever.

While a small part of the film, the end of Act II, where Victor is willing to die for the Corpse Bride, and the end of Act II, where the Corpse Bride is willing to sacrifice for Victor, illustrate that true love is a sacrificial love. As the individual character’s storylines collide into the climatic ending we see the Corpse Bride show her true love for Vincent by sacrificing her own interest for him. She loves him so much that she is willing to sacrifice what she wants to give him what he wants. As Jesus said:

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

True love sacrifices for the object of that love.

A man will sacrifice for the woman he loves.A woman will sacrifice for the man she loves.

A child will sacrifice for the video game he loves.

God will sacrifice for the creation He loves.

Why? Because of true love sacrifices.

While the ending is a good illustration of true love, the entire film is a parable teaching us about death and the afterlife. Tim Burton very carefully visualizes the difference between the world of the living and the world of the dead. The world of the living is dark, dreary drab, and very monochrome in color. There are a lot of blacks and whites with a little gray thrown in for color. : )

The world of the dead, by contrast, is full of color, music, feasting, enjoyment, merriment, etc. In the Corpse Bride death is not something to fear, but is instead something to look forward to!
In the Corpse Bride, we see that death is freeing.

In death, we are free from the trappings and concerns of the world.

In death we are free!

This is illustrated in the Corpse Bride by the use of butterflies. At the beginning of the movie we see Victor drawing a butterfly, then letting it go, and it flying away to freedom. At the end of the movie, after the Corpse Bride has emptied herself of her own ambitions for Victor’s sake, we see her turn into hundreds of butterflies, which fly off to the same freedom as our first butterfly.
It can be no accident that Tim Burton used the butterfly, a symbol of rebirth, as a metaphor for true freedom.

Death is not final.

Death is not something to be feared.

Death – like the butterfly illustrates – can be about rebirth.

This is true.

It is not true because Tim Burton says it is true.

It is true because God says it is true.

Regardless of your understanding of the specifics of what the Bible says about the afterlife (whether we spend eternity in Heaven, on a new Earth, etc.) the Bible clearly teaches that death does not have to be feared and that death is not the end. As Paul said to some friends in Corinth;

O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING? (I Corinthians 15:55)

(FYI, this quote is in all caps because the New Testament writer, Paul, borrowed this saying from the Old Testament, specifically Hosea 13:14.)

Like Tim Burton, Paul tells us that death is not something to fear. Paul even says in a letter to his friends in Philippi that;

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better. (Philippians 1:21-23)

Do you fear death?

If so there is no need to. Although Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride deals with death, it does not deal with redemption. Paul, however, makes it clear that death and redemption are tangled up in the dance of salvation. Salvation is not, and never has been, free. It may be a “free gift” to us, but God paid a great price in Jesus’ death. Death need not be feared because Jesus conquered it once and for all through His death and resurrection.

Even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; (John 3:14b-18a)

Hey, would you please do me a favor?  Would you share this with someone you think would enjoy it?

Get my free e-book, How to See God’s Story in Movies. This free download will help you share God’s story with your kids and students by showing you how to see God’s story in movies.

Not only will this guarantee that you get the latest Reel Parables posts, but you will also get my most popular downloads, including “How to Time Travel.”

And be sure to check out my About page for more info on what I do around here at Reel Parables.

Until next time, God bless.

Simon

HAPPY WORLD TEACHERS’ DAY!

Even if you are not a professional teacher, if you follow Reel Parables, then you likely teach someone.

Maybe some Sunday School kids.

Maybe in a Youth Group.

Regardless, I wanted to drop you an email to say thanks for doing what you do!

Keep it up.

Stay strong!

You got this!

Simon, for Reel Parables

Emptied & Humbled: More to Lent

This is part of Emptied & Humbled, a movie based Lenten devotional. The whole devotional can be found here.

There is more to Lent than just Lent.

First, Lent is more than just 40 days and giving something up.

As I’ve stated earlier, I did not grow up observing Lent. I didn’t even know, until recently, that Lent ends before Easter. (blush)

Holy Week

Lent ends during Holy Week. Holy Week starts the Sunday before Easter, Palm Sunday. Palm Sunday celebrates and remembers Jesus’ “triumphal entry” into Jerusalem. The crowd loves Him and expects big things from Him.

Holy Week ends with the Triduum, where we remember the last Thursday (the last day of Lent), Good Friday and Saturday before Easter.

 

Holy Week is interesting to me. In the span of a week, the people went from loving Jesus to killing Him. On Palm Sunday they welcomed Him into Jerusalem and then on Friday killed Him on Golgotha, just outside Jerusalem.

I wonder how often I do the same thing.

Praise God on Sunday, and then deny, ignore, hurt, sin against Him that same week.

This is why I need Lent.

This is why I need Easter Sunday.

Triduum

Triduum is the last Thursday, Friday, and Saturday before Easter.

Maundy Thursday

Maundy Thursday is a day to remember Last Supper and Jesus’ washing the disciple’s feet.

Some Maundy Thursday services end with the removing or covering of items in the Church, especially the cross. This is to visually show the sorrow, sadness, grief of Good Friday.

Good Friday

Good Friday is the day we remember Jesus’ crucifixion and death. As I stated earlier, I sometimes struggle with how Good Friday is good. How can death be good? I tend to agree with the people who refer to Good Friday as Black Friday.

 

But then I remember Hebrews 9:22 and Romans 5:8

Indeed according to the law almost everything was purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.  (Hebrews 9:22)

 

But God demonstrates his own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  (Romans 5:8)

Friday is good because it shows us how much God loves us.

Jesus’ death – His sacrifice – is good because it allows us, even though we are the dirty rotten sinners that we are – to be reconciled to God.

It is good because it is not the end. Yes, it is crucifixion Friday, but Resurrection Sunday is coming!

Holy Saturday

Holy Saturday is the day we remember – commemorate – the day Jesus was buried. It is a time of quietness and contemplation.

Remember, what Jesus did, He did for you.

Remember, Jesus is in the tomb, but Easter Sunday is coming!

Easter

Easter Sunday is also called Resurrection Sunday.

 

Easter is the time of year that we celebrate what the Jews celebrate at Passover. God has made a way to save us! God has conquered death!

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the lawBut thanks be to God,who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! (I Corinthians 15:56-57)

This is an awesome time of year.

It is a time for us to take our faith seriously.

It is a time for us to empty and humble ourselves.

It is a time for us to repent and to draw near to God.

it is a time for us to grow in our relationship with Jesus.

It is a time for us to be conformed to the image of Jesus.

This Lent season please join Reel Parables as we look at movies to see how we can be more like Jesus.

This is part of Emptied & Humbled, a movie based Lenten devotional. The whole devotional can be found here.

Get my free e-book, How to See God’s Story in Movies. This free download will help you share God’s story with your kids and students by showing you how to see God’s story in movies.

Not only will this guarantee that you get the latest Reel Parables posts, but you will also get my most popular downloads, including “How to Time Travel.”

And be sure to check out my About page for more info on what I do around here at Reel Parables.

Until next time, God bless.

Simon L Smith

Emptied & Humbled: 40 Days

This is part of Emptied & Humbled, a movie based Lenten devotional. The whole devotional can be found here.

As we discussed yesterday, one aspect of Lent is preparation. This is one reason, traditionally, why Lent lasts for 40 days. Traditionally, the forty days of Lent mirror the forty days that Jesus spent in the desert before He started His earthly ministry.

Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he endured temptations from the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and when they were completed, he was famished. Luke 4:1-2

 

For forty days Jesus fasted.

For forty days Jesus was tempted by the devil.

For forty days Jesus prepared Himself for His earthly ministry.

The same can be true for us. The forty days of Lent can be a time for us to prepare to fast.

Again, I did not grow up observing Lent. As my wife and I have started to observe Lent we have followed the tradition where Sundays are not part of Lent and, assuming you are fasting, you are not expected to fast on Sunday. The reason is so you can take part in communion, the Lord’s Supper, in your church community.

This Lent devotional – Emptied and Humbled – will follow this forty days Lenten calendar.

After this week’s introductory posts I will post Monday – Saturday, but not on Sunday.

Each week will focus on a different movie and will follow, more or less, this outline of Philippines 2:

  • Choice
  • Sacrifice
  • Death
  • Identity
  • Glory

Each week we will look at how Jesus emptied Himself and humbled Himself (Philippians 2) and then examine how we can do the same. After all, God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.

Or do you think the scripture means nothing when it says, The spirit that God caused to live within us has an envious yearning? But he gives greater grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but he gives grace to the humble.” So submit to God. But resist the devil and he will flee from youDraw near to God and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and make your hearts pure, you double-minded. Grieve,mourn, and weep. Turn your laughter into mourning and your joy into despairHumble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you. James 4:5-9

Yea, I know it’s not about Lent or Easter, but 40, by U2, is based on Psalm 40 and seems to fit in here nicely.

This is part of Emptied & Humbled, a movie based Lenten devotional. The whole devotional can be found here.

Get my free e-book, How to See God’s Story in Movies. This free download will help you share God’s story with your kids and students by showing you how to see God’s story in movies.

Not only will this guarantee that you get the latest Reel Parables posts, but you will also get my most popular downloads, including “How to Time Travel.”

And be sure to check out my About page for more info on what I do around here at Reel Parables.

Until next time, God bless.

Simon L Smith

Emptied & Humbled: Ash Wednesday

This is part of Emptied & Humbled, a movie based Lenten devotional. The whole devotional can be found here.

From ashes to ashes and dust to dust…

This common saying, often heard at funerals, is not a quote from the Bible, but it is quite Biblical.

By the sweat of your brow you will eat food until you return to the groundfor out of it you were takenfor you are dust, and to dust you will return.” Genesis 3:19

And the dust returns to the earth as it wasand the life’s breath returns to God who gave it. Ecclesiastes 12:7

He has flung me into the mudand I have come to resemble dust and ashes. Job 30:19

We are finite. We are perishable. Unless Jesus returns first, we will all die.

We will, as Genesis, Ecclesiastes, and Job state, return to “ashes and dust.”

As I stated in the introduction, I did not grow up participating in Lent. I did not grow up putting ash on my forehead. But, as I have grown older, I appreciate its importance.

The ash, in the design of the cross, is meant to remind us of our own mortality. Ash Wednesday and Lent are a time of preparation, repentance and of sacrifice.

Lent is a time of preparation.

The end of Lent coincides with the last week of Jesus’ life; His leading the Last Supper – the Passover feast, His betrayal by Judas, His trial, His crucifixion, His death and burial, and His resurrection.

Jesus prepared Himself.

Lent is a time to prepare ourselves.

Two ways we can prepare ourselves for Passover/Easter is to repent and to sacrifice.

Lent is a time of repentance.

Therefore I despise myselfand I repent in dust and ashes! Job 42:6

Like Job, when he met God in the whirlwind, we, too, are compelled to repent when we meet God during Lent.

Jesus loves you. Jesus loves your spouse. Jesus loves your children. Jesus loves you so much that He died for you.

But God demonstrates his own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

Repentance is more than just feeling bad about something. Repentance means to turn from something (sin, actions, words) to God. We turn away from the bad things and turn towards God.

An outward showing of this is ash on our forehead. An inward showing of this is repentance.

Lent is a time of repentance. What is something you need to turn from? In what areas of your life do you need to turn towards God?

Lent is a time of sacrifice.

Fasting is a common tradition during Lent. We give up something because of what Jesus gave up for us.

If I fast during Lent it is usually a traditional fast – not eating food.

For me, it is a time to “reset” my appetite, my heart, my mind, my dependence on God, etc.

There are some who argue that fasting for Lent is a man-made tradition. And maybe it is. But Jesus assumed that we would fast. In Matthew 6:17 Jesus said, “When you fast…” Not if you fast, but when you fast.

Jesus expects us to fast.

What can you fast from this Lent season? Is there something keeping you from God? Is there something coming between you and God? From what can you fast that can/will help you draw closer to God during this Lent season?

This is part of Emptied & Humbled, a movie based Lenten devotional. The whole devotional can be found here.

Get my free e-book, How to See God’s Story in Movies. This free download will help you share God’s story with your kids and students by showing you how to see God’s story in movies.

Not only will this guarantee that you get the latest Reel Parables posts, but you will also get my most popular downloads, including “How to Time Travel.”

And be sure to check out my About page for more info on what I do around here at Reel Parables.

Until next time, God bless.

Simon L Smith