Wreck It Ralph places Vanellope on the tree branch to keep her from stopping him of what he’s about to do. Wreck It Ralph knows he has to break her race car in order to save her life. The music starts to play drastically indicating a devastating moment, Vanellope yells, “No Ralph! Stop it!”. My son throws his bag of potato chips on the table, runs to the TV and changes the channel. I asked, “Wait, what are you doing?”. He pauses for a moment and then changes the channel back. Vanellope’s ending statement, “You really are a bad guy”. My son responds, “I hate that part”.
All movies, including children’s movies, incorporate the emotional realities even if the content itself are fiction. Observing these children’s movies with my son and watching his reactions to them, I can sense how it can pull at the heart strings. They include excitement, anticipation, fear, depression, death, happiness, peace, and consequences. I’ve noticed as my son grows older, he is more able to understand the stories and he is showing emotion towards them. He’ll often explain his favorite parts, what he didn’t like, what was happy about the story and what was sad.
I’ve never seen my son cry during a movie before until this year, in fact, he teared up during two of them. The first movie, I caught him tearing up to was Zootopia. He had expressed how he felt it was sad that the bunny was leaving her family at the farm to pursue her career in the big city. My son has separation anxiety, so it was apparent for him to be sad by this scene. After the movie, he expressed that it bothered him that the bunny didn’t make friends very easily in the beginning and how the city became corrupted and segregated.
The other movie, I saw my son cry over was Finding Dory. When Dory went back to where she was born and raised, she couldn’t find her parents. Her former neighbors told her that her parents had passed away while looking for her. My son sitting next to me in the theater leans over to me and admits softly, “I’m crying”. He smirked with tears running down his face, and I smiled back as I wiped underneath his eyes with my thumb.
Last night, we decided to have a movie night at home with our traditional hot chocolates and popcorn. We agreed on watching Big Hero 6. Now, we’ve watched this movie several times, and not many times does it raise any questions. This time, he watches it with concerns. One of the first few scenes involves two teenage boys and their aunt. They speak, “Sorry Aunt Cassie”. Ty exclaims, “Aunt Cassie?! Is that their mom?”. “No, that’s their aunt”, I answer. “Where’s their mom and dad?”, he questions me more. I respond, “Well, the movie explains that their parents died 10 years ago”. “How?”,He continues.”I’m assuming a car accident since it happened in the same year, but the movie never explains”. Half way through the movie, we watch the tragedy of the youngest brother losing his older brother to an explosion. My son soon after the scene passes expresses with sorrow in his eyes, “Well, the good thing is that Tadashi (oldest brother) will at least be back with his parents again”.
These movies truly know how to pull the heart strings of their viewers, even as an adult, that deals with loss and sadness more frequently, I am still not matured into not feeling emotion for these fictional situations. Toy Story 3 gets to me every time. The moment that Andy’s mother walks into his room finding it to be empty as he ventures out into college life and the real world, I picture myself in that same scenario. Also, remembering the joys and love that I had for my toys and stuffed animals when I was a little girl and how I always pictured them as alive with feeling. Towards the end when they fear that their lives are over, so they hold hands as they slowly slope down into a hole of fire. The emotions that I felt refers to how I grew up watching Toy story and to one of my other blogs, Cotton Friends.
Another movie that hits me right in the feels is Up. It is voted as the Number 1 saddest Disney movie of all time and it’s quite obvious of why. I balled my eyes out the first 5 minutes of the movie. Tragedy occurs repetitively throughout the entire movie. The story entails a lost dream, miscarriage, loss of a loved one, threats, absence of a parent, the dark truth of a lifetime hero, and losing a lifetime home. When summed up by the negatives, it doesn’t sound like a children’s story. However, the story is actually quite beautiful. It’s about a boy named Carl that meets a girl from childhood that has the same goals to go exploring in Paradise Falls and meet their all time Explorer idol, Charles Muntz. They fall in love and eventually marry. The abandoned home in the neighborhood that they once played in as children, becomes their home as they fix it up together. They try to have a family but unexpectedly lose the baby. They try to originate to their childhood dream but never make it together. The wife passes away in her old age. The husband continues on without her, and through many trials, he makes it but finds out once it is reached that it wasn’t worth it. He meets some friends along the way, such as a little boy named Russell who is lacking a father figure in his life. Carl learns to care for Russell and he becomes the son he never had. Yet, he also learns about the dangerous secrets about his childhood idol and has to try to save himself and his friends from his evil ways. So tragic to waste an entire life being stuck into believing in a false dream or on a person that they found value in.
Wasting a lifetime reminds me of another movie that both, my son and I find very sad is Lion King. When Simba’s father dies it always instantly makes me and my son feel sorrow for Simba. Simba gets tricked into believing that his father’s death was his fault by his own Uncle. So, Simba runs away and doesn’t come back until he grows into a big lion. The whole story is so heartbreaking, it captivates a childhood that is robbed, deceit from a family member, murder, loss of a loved one and fear of guilt.
All of these movies have such discouraging and heart-wrenching moments, yet can be overshadowed with comedy along with the joys and triumph of overcoming the challenging obstacles. My son loves the happy and colorful parts of the movies, but he doesn’t ignore the scenes that pull him in closer and question the fate of the characters. He recognizes the different emotions and relays his thoughts about the subject. Which leads me to discuss the movie, Inside Out. The main characters are emotions. They are controlling the mind of a little girl named Riley. The names and jobs if these emotions are Joy, Fear, Disgust, Anger and Sadness. They control the outcomes of Riley’s life. Mainly, Riley’s mind is led by Joy. Until one day, Joy and Sadness get sucked away from headquarters (Riley’s mind). With only Anger, Fear and Disgust there to control her mind, she is unable to be happy. Riley loses sight of the important things in life, such as family, friends, trust, her fun side and hockey which she enjoyed so much. After losing all of that from her mind, she becomes blank and jaded, because she loses sight of who she is. Once, Joy and Sadness return to headquarters, Joy realizes that sadness is a big part of life. She starts to understand that in order to fully function in life and become JOYful, you must face Sadness. In this movie, we witness depression, the feeling of hopelessness, and how venting to loved ones can make it all better. This movie teaches you that it’s okay to be sad and that often we feel better after we cry and face those feelings. They are trying to teach children not to bottle up their feelings and to tell a parent how they actually feel.
I feel as though these movies are quite devastating at times to the young heart, but it teaches them to face their emotions and to understand their feelings. These types of movies show that it’s okay to be sad, but it doesn’t have to stay that way. These movies give hidden lessons to children on what compassion is, how to deal with others, how to overcome barriers, that there are consequences to your actions, the importance of humanity, to watch for those who may be deceitful, and to enjoy your loved ones while you have them. I feel sometimes that these movies could lighten up some on the harsh misfortunes as these are still children viewing the content and I question whether they need to be informed so young? However, I can understand that these movies may help those children that are facing tribulations already at a young age. It is signifying the realities of life – life is hard. Life is not always fun, peaceful and exciting. Life is often trying, however not impossible to prevail. There’re lots to be learned from movies. I’ll continue to see what each movie teaches my son and what emotion or thought it may trigger. It is helping me learn more about him and what he understands, and what effects him. I am grateful for what they instill in us.
“For every loss, there is a hidden gain.
And for every gain, there is a hidden loss.”
– Hazrat Inayat Khan-