Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Disney Kisses

Took the family to see Maleficent last weekend. I know it is out a while but we just don't have the time or the desire to see all the new releases. One thing that stuck me about this movie is something my 9 year old daughter seemed to have noticed as well. She said that one thing this movie has in common with Frozen is that the kiss of true love that saves the woman does not come from a man and does not lead to marriage. It comes from a woman and does not really lead to anything other than saving the person from the immediate and mostly contrived peril associated with not being kissed.

I think that is a pretty big insight. The Theology of the Body talks about a man's love making a woman come alive. That is most obviously realized in marriage and sex and procreation. The traditional fairy tales know this. Sleeping Beauty is not must about magical kingdoms. It is about real life. Beautiful women are just so ready to become great wives and mothers but they need a man to love them. That is to love them with a romantic love that awakens their womanhood in a way a man was designed to do. Not that they will have terrible lives if they remain single but some part of them will remain asleep. 

Some spoilers below.

The new world is more cynical about romantic love. In Maleficent all romantic love is deeply flawed. The initial couple in love has a serious betrayal that is never resolved. She is eventually healed of her wounds but ends up killing her former lover. She ends up single for her whole life. Her cynicism about romantic love is not only not healed but it is actually confirmed.

Then the marriage that produces the child is very strange. The man is in love with someone else. He marries her to become king. She never becomes much of a character. He never struggles. Maleficent, who really should be this man's bride, never has much jealousy. She ends up hating the child. Yet somehow she wants to be close to the child while the child's actual mother does not seem to have that same desire. 

The last romantic love is that of the young prince. He appears on the scene just at the right time and is obviously attracted to her beauty. Yet his love turns out not to be true love. Again we have the young man and young women look like they belong together forever and it just does not happen. The man turns out to be insincere. He seems like he loves her and probably believes it himself but is actually unable to do so. 

They say there is no such thing as true love. What they really seem to mean is that men are incapable of it. Maleficent is capable of true love. Her love is more maternal than romantic yet it is true love. Yet even maternal love does not flow from the font of romantic love like it does in Theology of the Body. Both the main protagonist and the main villain are orphans. The child's actual biological parents don't show her any love. Even those given the job of raising her don't care that much. 

Who cares? Someone who has has been so betrayed and so hurt that at first she hates the child. She comes around to become the child's only lover. Yet this love is not a romantic love. When the movie ends and they are supposed to live happily ever after my daughter noticed that the main characters were not married. We have a spinster who hates men and young girl who will get romantic advice from said spinster. The only positive male character on the scene is a slave who is routinely abused by Maleficent. 

There is a lot good in the movie. It does value love even if it is not romantic love. It does value sincere love over superficial love. It does show the serious effects of betrayal. The pain lasts many years. The betrayer is ultimately consumed by his desire for power over love. The betrayed gets over her hate but it takes a long time. It shows the seriousness of sin but also the possibility of redemption. Lots of good stuff. 

Still the negative view of romance and marriage is hard to miss. Even the kids will see it. It does not make this movie one you should avoid but in conjunction with Frozen it does make one wonder if Disney is still comfortable celebrating married love. 

No comments:

Post a Comment