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: Finding Nemo – Glory

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

Lent is about glory. Yes, Lent is all about the “happy ending,” and the “they lived happily ever after.”

This is true in Finding Nemo, and this is true in Philippians.

As a result God exalted him and gave him the name that is above every nameso that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow – in heaven and on earth and under the earth – and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11)

Notice the “as a result” comment. As a result of the emptying and as a result of the humbling, God the Father did something. God exalted Jesus and gave him the name that is above every name so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow: not may bow and not can bow, will bow.

And every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Why? For the Glory of God the Father.

The glory – even Jesus’ – comes as a result of the suffering.

Just like Marlin found Nemo, just like Nemo learned that his dad loves him and wants what is best for him, and just like Dory found community, they all had to suffer first.

But this is far more important than knowing that suffering precedes glory.

Don’t miss that you will bow and you will confess. I implore you, empty yourself and humble yourself now. Get right with God. Get right with your family and friends.

Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest? Jesus said to him, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandmentThe second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:36-40)

Lent is the perfect time to remember this – love God. Love others.

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

Did you know I wrote a whole devotional based on Finding Nemo? You can check out Sharing God’s Story with Finding Nemo over at Amazon.

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: Finding Nemo – Identity

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

Lent is about identity. What we choose and what we sacrifice says a lot about who we really are. So, who are you?

Finding Nemo has a rebellious son and a scared, but loving, father.

It also has Dory.

Dory is easily a fan favorite. She is funny, she is sweet, and she is sympathetic. We just like her. But she is also a pretty good picture of the Holy Spirit.

But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I am going away. For if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you, but if I go, I will send him to you. (John 16:7)

This translation uses the word Advocate, yours may say Helper or even Counselor.

In Greek, the work is παράκλητος or Paraclete in English. A Paraclete is someone who “comes alongside.” Think someone who comes alongside of you to help you, hence the translator that chose Helper.

This idea – this visual – fits nicely with what Jesus says in Matthew 11.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you restTake my yoke on you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your soulsFor my yoke is easy to bear, and my load is not hard to carry.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Notice that those in the yoke are side-by-side. They come alongside each other to make the load or burden less.

One does not carry the load. They do it together.

Marlin did not have to find Nemo on his own. He, too, had a Paraclete. He had someone come alongside him to help him Marlin had Dory.

Sure, she is comic relief, but she is also very much Marlin’s helper.

It is because of her that he ultimately find Nemo.

Dory is Marlin’s Helper. Dory is Marlin’s Paraclete.

Marlin had Dory. We have the Holy Spirit.

So what does this have to do with identity?

But it is God who establishes us together with you in Christ and who anointed us, who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a down payment. (2 Corinthians 1:21-22)

We are God’s because of Jesus. God the Father gives us the down payment of the Holy Spirit to show us that it is true. We may not yet be with God forever, but God is already with us.

Did you know I wrote a whole devotional based on Finding Nemo? You can check out Sharing God’s Story with Finding Nemo over at Amazon.

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: Finding Nemo – Death

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

Lent is about death. Sometimes it is the ultimate sacrifice and a literal death, like in Frozen. Sometimes it is the death of pride, a dream, ego, or ambition.

This was true for Marlin.

Instead of being motivated by selfish ambition or vanity, each of you should, in humilitybe 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)

Marlin wanted to keep Nemo and himself safe. But when Nemo literally got caught in disobedience, Marlin let his own wants and ambitions die.

Marlin left the safety of the reef – his home – to go find his son.

Marlin thought more of his son’s needs than his own.

What about you?

Do you need to let some dream, ambition, desire, or want die?

What are you holding on to that needs to die?

Did you know I wrote a whole devotional based on Finding Nemo? You can check out Sharing God’s Story with Finding Nemo over at Amazon.

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: Finding Nemo – Sacrifice

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

Lent is about sacrifice. It is a time for us to contemplate and to consider what Jesus did for us. These last few weeks we’ve looked at Philippians 2 through the eyes of Spider-man 2, Wreck-it Ralph, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Frozen. This week we are looking at Philippians through Finding Nemo.

Nemo is lost because he disobeyed his father. And yet it is his father who will sacrifice to find Nemo.

Marlin feels safe in his community. But because Nemo got caught, Marlin sacrifices his own ambition – to stay safe in his community – to go find his son.

Marlin left something – and somewhere – to save Nemo.

So did Jesus.

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. You should have the same attitude toward one another that Christ Jesus had who though he existed in the form of God did not regard equality with God as something to be graspedbut emptied himself by taking on the form of a slave, by looking like other men, and by sharing in human nature. He humbled himselfby becoming obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:3-8)

Jesus left heaven. He left the Father. He emptied himself and humbled himself to save us.

Just like Nemo’s dad, Marlin. He left his home to go find his lost son.

Just like the woman who searched for her lost coin, just like the shepherd that searched for his lost sheep, and just like the father looking for his son, Jesus was born the Son of Man to save us.

Today, remember that Jesus sacrificed himself to save you.

 

Did you know I wrote a whole devotional based on Finding Nemo? You can check out Sharing God’s Story with Finding Nemo over at Amazon.

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