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

Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll, and Ecclesiastes

The last two Music Monday’s ended up in Ecclesiastes. Both New Order’s Restless and Twenty One Pilots’ Stressed Out point us to Ecclesiastes, and for Good reason. There is nothing new under the sun. Not even the idea of “Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll.”

Sex, Drugs, Rock and Roll and Ecclesiastes (Pintrest)

Go read Ecclesiastes 2:1-11. Notice that Solomon sounds a lot like “kids today.”

Or the way I must have sounded to my parents.

Or even the way my parents must have sounded to my grandparents.

Or the way… well, you get it.

Anyway, this idea that sex, drugs, and rock & roll will somehow make  us happy and fulfilled is not new.

Sex

Sex is not new. I know that every generation acts like they discovered it. But it’s not new.

As long as there have been people there has been sex. As long as there has been sex, we’ve used and abused sex.

But sex is not the issue, right?

Here is what Solomon had to say about sex.

I thought to myself, “Come now, I will try self-indulgent pleasure to see if it is worthwhile.” But I found that it also is futile. I said of partying, “It is folly,” and of self-indulgent pleasure, “It accomplishes nothing!” (Ecclesiastes 2:1-2)

I acquired male singers and female singers for myself, and what gives a man sensual delighta harem of beautiful concubines! (Ecclesiastes 2:8b)

Sex is not the issue. The issue – the error – is when we use sex to find happiness and fulfillment.

Yes, sex is awesome.

But sex does not satisfy.

No one has sex and says, “That was so good I am now done with sex forever!”

Drugs

Drugs are not new either. Sure, some *types* of drugs are new(ish), but we’ve altered our state of consciousness for almost as long as we’ve abused sex.

All the way back to Genesis 9 we read that Noah, after getting off the Ark and praising God, “drank of the wine and became drunk, and uncovered himself inside his tent.

This godly and blameless man who found favor in the sight of God got butt-naked drunk.

(I have a little fun with this over at my personal site.)

So what does Solomon have to say about drugs, in the form of wine?

I thought deeply about the effects of indulging myself with wine (all the while my mind was guiding me with wisdom) and the effects of behaving foolishly, so that I might discover what is profitable for people to do on earth during the few days of their lives. (Ecclesiastes 2:3)

I increased my possessions: I built houses for myself; I planted vineyards for myself. (Ecclesiastes 2:4)

Again, wine is not the issue. It was/is part of Passover and Jesus served it at the Last Supper.

It is the abuse of wine (drugs) that is the problem.

The problem is when we use wine (drugs) to find happiness or fulfillment. The problem is when we use wine (drugs) to excess.

Even Ephesians 5:18 says don’t be drunk on wine. Notice it does not say don’t drink wine.

But like with sex, wine can never truly satisfy.

Rock and Roll

So what about Rock and Roll?

While the music was most certainly different, Solomon did indeed indulge in musical entertainment.

I acquired male singers and female singers for myself, and what gives a man sensual delighta harem of beautiful concubines! (Ecclesiastes 2:8b)

Notice that Solomon ties “sensual delight” to his singers. Yes, there *is* a sense of sensuality – sexuality – tied to music.

But again, music itself is not the problem. Remember, some of the Psalms are for the choir director!

The problem is when we turn to rock and roll, music, entertainment, for fulfillment or meaning or significance.

It may sound silly, but no one hears a song, finds fulfillment, and never needs/wants to hear another song.

Music is great – amazing even – but it is ultimately temporary and futile.

So What?

After chasing sex, drugs, and rock & roll, Solomon concludes that they are all profitless.

Yet when I reflected on everything I had accomplished and on all the effort that I had expended to accomplish it, I concluded: “All these achievements and possessions are ultimately profitlesslike chasing the wind! There is nothing gained from them on earth.” (Ecclesiastes 2:11)

So if sex, drugs, and rock & roll can’t satisfy, what can?

Having heard everything, I have reached this conclusion: Fear God and keep his commandments, because this is the whole duty of manFor God will evaluate every deed. (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)

Ecclesiastes eventually points us to God.

Since everything, especially sex, drugs, and rock & roll, are temporary (at best) and ultimately futile, we are told to pursue God.

God is eternal. His kingdom is eternal. His love is eternal.

So stop trying to find fulfillment, purpose, or happiness in the temporary things of this world, and pursue the eternal God.

 

And be sure to check out our new Start Here and About pages!

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

Music Monday – New Order’s Restless

The only thing I may enjoy more than movies is music.* I even work to music. I am one of those people who has a soundtrack to my day, to my work day, to my life, going at almost all times. I often answer questions or respond to comments with a song, or at least with a lyric from a song. I get music. Music moves me.

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My newest musical obsession is the newest New Order release, Music Complete.

The whole release is amazing (assuming you like New Order and their kind of music) but Restless stands out to me as a fantastic musical Reel Parable.

Yeah, I really like the music. But more importantly than that, Restless is an AMAZING look into the book of Ecclesiastes.

Restless basically addresses Ecclesiastes 1:2:

“Futile! Futile!” laments the Teacher, “Absolutely futile! Everything is futile!

“Restless”

What can you buy
That lifts a heavy heart up to the sky?
What makes your day?
What miracle of life
Has come to stay?

These are hypothetical questions and, in the context of the song, the answer is nothing. There is nothing we can buy to truly make us happy or to make the miracle of life stay.

This sounds a lot like Ecclesiastes 2:10-11.

I did not restrain myself from getting whatever I wanted; I did not deny myself anything that would bring me pleasure. So all my accomplishments gave me joy; this was my reward for all my effort. Yet when I reflected on everything I had accomplished and on all the effort that I had expended to accomplish it, I concluded: All these achievements and possessions are ultimately profitless – like chasing the wind! There is nothing gained from them on earth.”

I don’t know what Bernard Sumner (the lead singer and songwriter) means by this, but here is how I hear it. There is a certain “miracle” to life. We often talk about the “miracle of childbirth.”

Life *is* special.

But life leads to death.

As you may know, my wife and I have lost a son to brain cancer. (I wrote about it during Lent 2015.) Life is amazing, but death is inevitable. What is the best part of your day today? No matter what it is, death will (eventually) impose on your life.

It did mine.

It will to yours.

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A taste of love
So sweet, so real you can’t let go

And how does it feel?
It feels so good…

But how much do you need? How much, how much do you need?
How much do you need? How much, how much do you need?

 

Yeah, sex is powerful, awesome, wonderful, amazing, complex and occasionally complicated. But sex is ultimately temporary.

Not only is it the basis of the “world’s oldest profession,” but even King David, a man after God’s own heart, succumbed to its pleasure.

But at the end of the day, sex is so very temporary. No one ever has a sexual experience that leaves them so satisfied that they never want to have sex again. Just as Ecclesiastes 2:1-2 tell us:

I thought to myself, “Come now, I will try self-indulgent pleasure to see if it is worthwhile.” But I found that it also is futile. I said of partying, It is folly,” and of self-indulgent pleasure, It accomplishes nothing!

So how much do you need? More than could ever truly satisfy.

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I want a nice car
A girlfriend who’s as pretty as a star
I want respect
As much, as much as I can get

But how much do you need? How much, how much do you need?

How much do you need? How much, how much do you need?

Bernard wants stuff – a nice car –  a pretty woman, and as much respect as he can get. Who doesn’t, right?

Ecclesiastes 7:1-2 even says that our reputation (some translation say respect) is better than precious perfume.

 A good reputation is better than precious perfume; likewise, the day of one’s death is better than the day of one’s birthIt is better to go to a funeral than a feast. For death is the destiny of every person, and the living should take this to heart.

How much respect is enough?

It doesn’t matter. Those who are respected and those who are not all end the same way – death comes for us all.

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Restless, I feel so restless

And in this changing world

I am lost for words

I feel so restless

Ain’t got no interest
I couldn’t care less
Can’t be a success

So what does all this wanting and feeling lead to? Restlessness.

No matter what he gets it is not enough. No matter what he does, it is never enough. He is – and we are – never satisfied.

All this monotony is tiresome; no one can bear to describe it: The eye is never satisfied with seeing, nor is the ear ever content with hearing. (Ecclesiastes 1:8)

We are restless.

We are left wanting.

Nothing we know of – or can get – can truly satisfy.

Due to current studies

The fiscal climate isn’t looking good
Get out of town
The streets are running rivers full of blood

Life – and this world – is full of worry. As I write this there is a shrinking Middle Class. We are still coming out of the most recent recession. Most of us are living paycheck-to-paycheck.

Even if you are doing great financially, we always seem to be on the brink of war. Most recently it was Paris and San Bernardino. Who knows where it will be tomorrow.

Life is hard. Who much his enough? I don’t know. It seems to me that no one is really satisfied with what they have.

The more I see
The less, the less that I believe
The more I hear
The less, the less that I perceive

Restless, I feel so restless

And in this changing world

I am lost for words

I feel so restless

Ain’t got no interest

I couldn’t care less

Can’t be a success

Having heard everything, I have reached this conclusion: Fear God and keep his commandmentsbecause this is the whole duty of manFor God will evaluate every deed, including every secret thing, whether good or evil. (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)

Fear God and obey Him.  Pursue God and not simply pleasure.

Or, as the classic kid’s song goes:

Trust and obey

For there is no better way

to be happy in Jesus

than to trust and obey

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So, you can be restless or you can rest in God. Take your pick.

If you think you would like this, go check out New Order’s Music Complete!

PS: If you don’t know about New Order you may still know Blue Monday. This was their biggest song

PSS: I like New Order so much that I have told my kids that I want their song True Faith played at my funeral.

*This is, of course, a comment on entertainment and pop culture and not a comment on my faith or my family. Yes, I love God and my family more than music and movies.

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