Monday, September 12, 2011

To truly live

Jiminy Cricket!

(c) Disney


Jiminy Cricket, whose name, interestingly enough, comes from a minced oath for Jesus Christ, has become Disney's poster sidekick, probably second only to Tinkerbell. Before watching this movie I had him pegged as the wise, helpful sidekick, who steered Pinocchio in the right direction every time he needed it. Boy was I wrong!

In this film, Jiminy Cricket is really not the best 'conscience' for a boy needing to learn the ways of life. He assumes his role as Pinocchio's conscience almost by chance, and throughout the film he seems to be MIA when he's needed the most. I found this unreliability extremely frustrating.

I suppose his character reflects the same reality I've pointed out about the whole film in my review. In light of the misleading message we are told by our culture, "listen to your heart" -- it's clear in Pinocchio that one's heart, or conscience, is not infallible. Jiminy Cricket certainly has good intentions, but he is also girl-crazy (which is a little creepy, after all he's a cricket!), flaky, and gives up too easily. Jiminy Cricket's character perhaps reveals that we cannot always trust ourselves to make the right decisions all the time. Maybe the old adage should be: "listen to your heart, but not when it's wrong." Hmm...doesn't quite have the same ring.

The Boy Puppet
(c) Disney
I found the character of Pinocchio quite intriguing. As a main character, his major "dilemma" is that he desires to become a 'real boy'. In the film, this is defined as making good decisions and resisting temptations - in other words - proving oneself to be good. In my point of view, these things add up to what it means to have true life. We who are in Christ know that there is only one path to true life, and it isn't easy. To be good through and through is impossible on our own. Pinocchio gets it partially right; we see in the film that the wooden boy is extremely flawed and finds it quite easy to lie (a now famous aspect of his character, in fact). And while he about as gullible as can be at the start, the film makes it clear that each choice he makes is very much his own.

However, I was disappointed that in the end the story seems to say that Pinocchio finally proves himself to be good. It is true that he acted heroically in helping Gepetto escape from Monstroe the Whale. But I'm not convinced that it necessarily "earned" him the right to become a real boy. Who's to say that he had completely learned never to lie or make a mistake again? Has he really learned all he needs to know?

I'd love to hear what you think of Pinocchio's character arc. What is the real reason Pinocchio became a real boy?

3 comments:

  1. Agreed. I was also confused of how exactly does Pinocchio proves his righteous to become a real boy? Clearly his conscience, Jiminy Cricket, isn't so helpful.

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  2. Well, to spiritualize it, I guess one can also see it in the way that it's the change of heart that makes him qualified to be righteous. And that change of heart, in other words, is repentance. And what about the heroic act of saving his father? Well, with the same logic, we could see it as the good work that comes out naturally and spontaneously from the change of heart-- just as how the relationship is between faith and work.

    As it is written in James, "faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead", I guess one could say that his action reveals the truth about his motives. Putting the act of repentance on the screen makes the change clear to the viewers, which also goes well with the faith-work dynamics, while the act itself is not the key to a true life.
    However, I guess the film itself doesn't give enough evidence for this argument to base on. I think the fairy's line was something like "you've proved yourself as _______", so it could be that what she focuses on is the object of the proof, but it's just hard to convey that to the kids (the majority of the viewers...)

    okay, enough babbling.

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  3. I find it amusing that the way to be a real boy is to be good...even the well meaning little boys I know are not 'good' as expected by the movie. Pinocchio's natural choices are SO natural compared to real boys.

    I also liked what Tiffany put out there. I think that another way to look at it is that he isn't perfect, but neither are we - yet we are still rewarded. Although I'm not sure how far I can take that analogy. Because the Blue Fairy's gift was not from her gracious nature, unlike our gift of Christ, but Pinocchio's choice is like the choice we made to repent.

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