Over the Himalayas, laboring cranes are migrating. In the icy depths of the ocean, whales are stalked by great white sharks. The walrus and elephant clans circle up to protect their young from predators; though sometimes, in vain. This is the way of the wild presented by Disney’s new film, “Earth.” The panorama of this National Geographic-like film only fully be appreciated in a theater, so do not wait to see this one on DVD. Take everyone you know with an appreciation for watching God’s own creations in their natural habitats, unscathed by human interference, to see this film.
Pixar’s most recent 3-D animated film, “Up,” in the same way, is best when seen on the big screen. It is a cute and funny “good-for-the-whole-family” type of movie that keeps from being syrupy because of a crotchety protagonist and a dastardly villain.
Carl Fredricksen (Ed Asner) is a lonely old man who misses his departed wife, Ellie. Carl and his wife met as children, when she invited him to be a member of her adventure club. They became instant friends, and eventually fell in love as they dreamed of exploring faraway lands, especially Paradise Falls, together. Unfortunately, life intervened. Though the couple sadly, could not have children, they lived happily until Ellie’s death. Now, the widower carries an air of sadness with him, and even speaks to his deceased wife as though she is still with him. As he dodders into old age, he becomes increasingly lonely, and grouchy. This changes when a little explorer, named Russell (Jordan Nagai) knocks on Carl’s door, hoping to earn his “help the elderly” merit badge.
Over Carl’s lonely years, the house had become a quasi-shrine to Ellie and their happy years together. The story takes a whimsical turn when Carl decides to string a bunch of balloons together to attach to his house in order to escape and protect his home from the surrounding urban construction. Carl and his home begin to float away when the stowaway, Russell, is discovered. The grumpy old man and frightened little boy embark on an adventure as they land in their newly discovered wilderness. Through their journey, Carl and Russell find, in each other, the trust and affection they both need.
“Up” is a whimsy film that refrains from becoming hackneyed through its grace and humor. Viewers may identify with the characters, as though they were something more than human.
Both films present a wilderness that is neither safe nor pristine. The movies share the similar theme of the nurturing nature of the old and the rite of passage for the young. The world is destined to move on, but it is a wonderful world just the same.
Questions for Discussion:
1) Should young viewers see a hunter chasing and catching its prey in nature films?
2) In animated films, should young viewers see evil thwarting the intentions of the good?
3) When have you developed an unlikely cross-generation relationship?
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Pastor, Grace Presbyterian Church, Greenville, Texas