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

Emptied & Humbled: Frozen – Choice

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

As we saw in Spider-man 2, Wreck-it Ralph, and Guardians of the Galaxy, Lent is about choice. Specifically, Philippians 2 tells us that Jesus chose to empty himself and to humble himself and that we are to do the same.

We all make choices every day. That is one reason Disney’s Frozen is so awesome.  Just about every single character must make a choice.

Elsa wants solitude so she does not hurt anyone and chooses to run away.

Anna, her little sister who wants her big sister’s company, chooses to run after her.

At first, Kristoff wants to work hard and keep his job. As the movie plays out, he wants Anna.

Hans, who says he loves and wants to marry Anna, really wants to kill her so he can become King!

And Olaf, sweet Olaf, wants the very thing that will hurt him, warm hugs.

Yes, everyone in Disney’s Frozen wants something. Some of these things are good, some of them are not. Regardless, each character makes a choice – based on their integrity or lack of it – to get what they want.

We’ve seen that we, too, must make choices because of our own wants, desires, and ambitions.

Philippians 2 tells us to treat others as more important than ourselves and to concern ourselves with the interests of others.

Instead of being motivated by selfish ambition or vanity, each of you should, in humility, be moved to treat one another as more important than yourselfEach of you should be concerned not only about your own interests, but about the interests of others as well. (Philippians 2:3-4)

We all want things. We all have desires. To empty and humble ourselves is to look at others’ wants and desires as more important than our own.

What about you? What do you want? What choice must you make to get it?

What has God been working on with you this Lent season?

What is God currently asking you to choose between?

Are you currently acting selfishly? Or are you acting humbly?

Or do you, like Olaf, want something that is actually bad for you?

Did you know I wrote a whole devotional based on Frozen? You can check out Sharing God’s Story with Disney’s Frozen over at Amazon. Also, here are two free downloads that help share God’s story with Frozen. The first one applies Frozen to the Wordless Book. The second illustrates the “Romans Road” using the storyline of Frozen. Just right-click, “save as” and enjoy!

SharingGodsStorywithFrozen

SharingGodsStorywithDisneysFrozenandtheWordlessBook

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

Wreck-it Ralph Christian Movie Review – Resurrection

Sharing God’s Story with Wreck-it Ralph

This Reel Parable has major spoilers, and I mean major. Major like “did you know Old Yeller dies?” major. This movie bible study assumes that you have seen Wreck-it Ralph or don’t care if we spoil it for you. We warned you…

This is part 6 of a 6 part Christian movie review of Wreck-it Ralph. You can find all of our Wreck-it Ralph content here.

Sharing God’s story with Wreck-it Ralph

It’s no secret that I love Wreck-it Ralph. The way that it shows us what the resurrection looks like is one big reason why! Not only do we get to the a “new heaven and a new earth,” but we also get to see a resurrected/glorified body AND our true identity!

Run the Race

Because of Ralph’s sacrifice, Vanellope finished the race. She finished the race. That alone is quite biblical!

I have competed wellI have finished the race; I have kept the faith! (2 Timothy 4:7)

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesseswe must get rid of every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and run with endurance the race set out for us… (Hebrews 12:1)

With the help of her “cloud of witnesses,” her community, Vanellope was able to run the race and finish the race.

Don’t give up the race. And don’t give up on your community.

But wait, there’s more!

A New Heaven and a New Earth

By finishing the race – by crossing the finish line – the world of Sugar Rush is reset. The corrupt and counterfeit world, ruled by the counterfeit king, was made new!

Sugar Rush was made right. The old went away. The new came.

The corrupted (hacked by King Candy) world of Sugar Rush was made new and restored back to its original creation!

The fallen world of Sugar Rush was made new and restored back to its original creation!

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth… (Revelations 21:1a)

For look, I am ready to create new heavens and a new earth! The former ones will not be remembered; no one will think about them anymore. (Isaiah 65:17)

While waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God? Because of this daythe heavens will be burned up and dissolve, and the celestial bodies will melt away in a blaze! But, according to his promise, we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness truly resides. (2 Peter 3:12-13)

We know our “end” is not really the end, but a new beginning. Someday this painful, hurtful, vengeful world will be made new, just like Sugar Rush!

Someday this ugly world will be made beautiful!

But wait, there is *still* more!

Princess Vanellope

Not only was Sugar Rush made new, but so was Vanellope!

The once glitchy “mistake,” the perishable little girl could not leave the game because she would die, was raised imperishable!

It is the same with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. (I Corinthians 15:42)

So then, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; what is old has passed away – look, what is new has come! (II Corinthians 5:17)

Don’t miss the story here.

Ralph offers himself as a sacrifice to save not just Vanellope, but all of Sugar Rush.

Because of his sacrifice Vanellope able to finish the race and cross the finish line!

The game – the world of Sugar Rush – is made new and restored to its perfect and original creation.

Vanellope, too, is made new and raised up in her new and perfected body!

But wait, there is still even more!

Not only is Vanellope made new, but her *true* identify is revealed.

Vanellope, this glitchy nobody, is actually Princess Vanellope. Yeah, Princess. So, yeah, she is the daughter of the one true king!

The same is true for Christians!

But when the appropriate time had come, God sent out his Son, born of a woman, born under the lawto redeem those who were under the law, so that we may be adopted as sons with full rightsAnd because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, who calls AbbaFather!” So you are no longer a slave but a son, and if you are a son, then you are also an heir through God. (Galatians 4:4-7)

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of GodFor you did not receive the spirit of slavery leading again to fearbut you received the Spirit of adoptionby whom we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself bears witness to our spirit that we are God’s childrenAnd if children, then heirs (namely, heirs of God and also fellow heirs with Christ). (Romans 8:14-17a)

Yes, as Christians we are sons and daughters of the one true King! We are fellow heirs with Jesus Christ himself!

This should be so encouraging to you. Just like Vanellope we all have our own “glitches.” We are all fallen and broken in some way.

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3″23)

But just like Vanellope we too can be royalty. She was saved by Ralph’s sacrifice, we are saved by Jesus’ sacrifice!

We, too, can be made new. When we believe in Jesus we join God’s family.

They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved…” (Acts 16:31a)

I assume that if you are reading this then you do believe. If not, then today is the day!

Prince-and-Princess-Crown-Cut-Outs (Right click and save)

Here is a great way to share God’s story with your kid(s). Make and decorate a Prince and/or Princess crown! Be sure to write Prince/Princess and your name and your kid’s name. And wear them proudly!

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

Sharing God’s Story with Wreck-it Ralph

Sharing God’s Story with Disney’s Frozen – Kristoff & Community

Today’s post is  from the Sharing God’s Story with Disney’s Frozen bible study.

This movie based bible study uses Disney’s Frozen and therefore contains  spoilers.

Be sure to check out our Frozen page for more ways to share God’s story with Disney’s Frozen.

Almost everything Anna does, she does in the community.

Early in Disney’s Frozen, Anna has her family. When her parents die, she still has Elsa, for a while. She longs for the gates to open so she can join the community outside her castle walls. She also had the company of Kristoff and Sven while she was searching for Elsa.

Anna loves community.

The same is true for Kristoff. Not only does he have Sven, but he also has the trolls.

Elsa, on the other hand, has no one.

She hides from Anna and eventually runs away. She leaves her kingdom, where she should be queen, to set up her own lonely kingdom. Instead of a community, Elsa pursues solitude.

We are made for community.

The triune God – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit – live in a community. Before there was anything, before Genesis 1:1, there was God and there was a community.

God told Adam that it is not good for man to be alone (Genesis 2:18). We are created for community.

The Bible assumes that we will live in a community.

And let us take thought of how to spur one another on to love and good works, not abandoning our own meetings, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and even more so because you see the day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24-25)

We cannot spur one another on to love and good works if we are not with one another.

We cannot encourage each other if we are not with each other.

So confess your sins to one another and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great effectiveness. (James 5:16)

We cannot confess our sins to one another if we are not with one another.

Carry one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2)

We cannot carry one another’s burdens if we are not with one another.

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. (Romans 12:15)

We cannot rejoice with those who rejoice or weep with those who weep if we are not with those who are rejoicing and weeping.

Treat others in the same way that you would want them to treat you. (Luke 6:31)

Back to the Golden Rule – We cannot treat others the way we want to be treated if we are not with others.

God – and the Bible – assume that we are in a community.

Are you currently in a community?

If not, do you miss community?

Do you avoid community?

If so, why do you avoid community?

One who has isolated himself seeks his own desires; he rejects all sound judgment. (Proverbs 18:1)

Do you isolate yourself? If so why? 

Are you hiding something?

Remember, you cannot hide your actions (sins) from God. He sees everything. He knows everything. And he still loves you.

I would encourage you to find a good Christian/Church community if you are not already in one. You were made for community. You need to be in community.

If you are already a part of a good Christian/Church community, seek out someone who is not. Invite someone to join you in your faith community. Find an outsider on the fringe of your faith community and help them become a real part of it.

Live life with others.

More than likely you are in some sort of community. For some of us, it is related to our favorite sports team or college alma mater, a favorite movie or TV show (I’m looking at you Trekkies!), a favorite band, etc.  Everyone, to some degree, is in a community. The community we need, however, is more than just like interests. We need a faith community. These other communities are great, but they should never replace our faith community.

Like this? Be sure to head on over to Amazon and check out Sharing God’s Story with Disney’s Frozen!

Sharing is caring! Would you please share this post? I truly appreciate it.

Also, here are some free downloads to help you share God’s story with Disney’s Frozen!

SharingGodsStorywithFrozen (Frozen and the “Romans Road”)

SharingGodsStorywithDisneysFrozenandtheWordlessBook (Frozen and the Wordless Book)

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

Sharing God’s Story with Disney’s Frozen – True Love’s Kiss

Today’s post is  from the Sharing God’s Story with Disney’s Frozen bible study.

This movie based bible study uses Disney’s Frozen and therefore contains  spoilers.

Be sure to check out our Frozen page for more ways to share God’s story with Disney’s Frozen.

Be honest.  When you heard that “only an act of true love can thaw a frozen heart,” you figured some young handsome prince would come in and save the day, didn’t you? Yeah, I did too. That is what Disney does, right?

But as Disney’s Frozen unfolds we see that an act of true love is actually a sacrificial act (Agape), and not simply a romantic act (Eros).

No one has greater love than this – that one lays down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)

Frozen is not the first time that Disney has played with this idea of true love.

Have you seen Disney’s version of the Jungle Book? (Spoilers!)

Thinking that Baloo the Bear had sacrificed himself to save Mowgli, Bagheera says, “Now, now. I know how you feel. But you must remember, Mowgli: ‘Greater love hath no one than he who lays down his life for his friend.’ ”

True love is a sacrificial love.

This is the way that Baloo loved Mowgli.

This is the way Anna loved Elsa.

This is the way that God loves you.

This is the way we are to love others, for this is true love.

But, as Disney’s Frozen also shows, it is not the only kind of love. Both Philia and Eros are also important and good. They should both, however, be informed by and developed from Agape love. Both Philia and Eros should grow out of, and be defined by, Agape love.

Philia Love

Disney’s Frozen is about two princesses, Elsa and Anna. These two sisters share a strong sisterly – familial – love. These two sisters share Philia love.

It is this love that moves the story forward.

Elsa, out of fear of hurting the sister she loves so much, locks herself in her room. This love actually drives her away when she is older. Afraid of hurting Anna, Elsa decides to simply run away from her. Anna, who misses the sister she loves so much, chases after her when she runs away.

But Philia love is not enough. Philia love should build upon Agape love. Agape love – unconditional love – is what causes Anna to chase after her sister. It is the love that will eventually lead her to sacrifice herself to save Elsa.

Philia love – brotherly/sisterly love – should build upon unconditional love.

Eros Love

Yes, love is also romantic. Disney’s Frozen has a lot of fun with this in the relationship between Anna and Hans. How many times did we hear someone say, “You can’t marry someone you just met!”?

Romantic love is not bad. It is actually amazing in its proper place and time. How many times does the Song of Solomon remind us, “Do not arouse or awaken love until it pleases!”

Romantic love does have a time.

Romantic love does have a place.

But romantic love is not the only or most important, kind of love. As we have seen, there is a love deeper and stronger than romantic love.

This is unconditional love. This is the way Anna loved Elsa. This is the way that Kristoff eventually loves Anna. This is the way that God loves us. 

While not the point of Disney’s Frozen, we do see the sacrificial side of romantic love. When Kristoff finally realizes that he loves Anna and that Anna loves him, he sets off to save her with “true love’s kiss,” regardless of the dangerous situation into which he puts himself.

When it comes to love – Philia love, Eros love and Agape love – remember the “golden rule.”

Treat others in the same way that you would want them to treat you. (Luke 6:31)

Whom do you love?

Do you love someone with Philia love? A best friend? A mother, a father, a brother, a sister or a child? A co-worker? A classmate? Do you treat them the way you want them to treat you? Do you love them unconditionally? Do you put their needs before your own?

Do you love someone with Eros love? A spouse? A boyfriend? A girlfriend? A finance? Do you treat them the way you want them to treat you? Do you love them unconditionally? Do you put their needs before your own?

Write down the name of someone you love with Philia love or Eros love. Pray for and look for ways that you can love them unconditionally over the next week. Write down and list the ways you can love them and then do it. Afterward, be sure to mark it off of the list you made. Love does. Go and do.

Like this? Be sure to head on over to Amazon and check out Sharing God’s Story with Disney’s Frozen!

Sharing is caring! Would you please share this post? I truly appreciate it.

Also, here are some free downloads to help you share God’s story with Disney’s Frozen!

SharingGodsStorywithFrozen (Frozen and the “Romans Road”)

SharingGodsStorywithDisneysFrozenandtheWordlessBook (Frozen and the Wordless Book)

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