Magic & Movies

I went shopping a couple of days ago and as I passed the movie section; Disney’s “The Princess and the Frog” caught my eye. My daughters and I had not yet seen it. I immediately put it in my cart as I often do when new Disney movies come out for purchase. I own 55 animated Disney/Pixar DVDs along with over 300 other DVDs (and that doesn’t include the full season sets to date of several TV shows). [And in case anyone was wondering: Yes, they are alphabetized and categorized.] I would say over a quarter of my collection are animated children’s movies (Veggie Tales and Disney being my favorites). Most of them I started collecting long before I had any kids of my own.

The main fairy tale story line of “The Princess and the Frog” is a cute interpretation of the classic tale. Tiana is a hard working woman who is trying to save enough money so that she can open her own restaurant. When she kisses the frog (who is actually the arrogant selfish prince); she turns into a frog also. Together they meet a couple of friends, fight off some hunters, learn what really matters in life, and eventually fall in love. My two favorite characters in the movie are Charlotte and Ray. Charlotte is a very rich, daddy’s little girl who, despite their social differences, truly cares for her friend Tiana. Ray is a courageous lightning bug who helps the prince and Tiana on multiple occasions and eventually gives his life for them.

Although I know people who are completely against Disney movies; I personally have never had a problem with them. I am aware of scary scenes in some of the movies and generally skip them when my daughters are watching them. Some of the movies I do this with include: “The Little Mermaid,” “Snow White,”  “Sleeping Beauty,” & “Hunchback of Notre Dame.” [See Update about this paragraph at end of blog post]

Because of how I was raised; I am definitely aware of the spiritual world when it comes to God & Satan, angels & demons, etc. I am not one who sees a demon in everything but I believe that demons are around us looking for opportunities to  oppress. In the same sense; I also believe that angels are around us and there is an unseen battle between good & evil. When it comes to movies (and books); I personally make a clear distinction between what I call “fairy tale magic” and “real magic.” I describe “fairy tale magic” as what can’t happen in real life. For example; the magic that the fairy godmother uses in the movie “Cinderella” I would consider as “fairy tale.” With the wave of a wand; a pumpkin turns into a coach, animals turn into humans, and a beautiful dress is created from rags. None of these things could really happen; they are not real. I describe “real magic” as what can happen in real life. I believe that “The Princess and the Frog” shows this kind magic as well as “fairy tale magic.”

In this movie; Disney takes their evil portrayal to a new level by incorporating a real occult religion called Voodoo. The following definitions of Voodoo were taken from two online dictionary sources:

*A religion practiced chiefly in Caribbean countries, especially Haiti, syncretized from Roman Catholic ritual elements and the animism and magic of slaves from West Africa, in which a supreme God rules a large pantheon of local and tutelary deities, deified ancestors, and saints, who communicate with believers in dreams, trances, and ritual possessions. Also called vodoun.

*A charm, fetish, spell, or curse holding magic power for adherents of voodoo.

*Also called voodooism a religious cult involving witchcraft and communication by trance with ancestors and animistic deities, common in Haiti and other Caribbean Islands.

The Bible is clear that God is against practices of this kind:

Deuteronomy 18:9-12 “When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD…”

The villain is a man known as “The Shadow Man.” His shadow is portrayed as having a mind of its own. The Shadow Man talks to his “friends from the other side” which show up on screen in the form of shadows. He uses his powers to turn the prince into a frog which is a part of an elaborate plan which will allow him to get rich and have control of the town. He uses this plan to make a deal his shadow friends so that they will help him when the prince escapes. Eventually when his plan does not work; he realizes that he cannot pay his debt and the shadows drag him into the grave.

I actually watched this movie the first time without my daughters present. I am very glad that I did. I do not think that they would have understood what was actually going on but the scenes still would have been scary for them. I used my computer to create video clips of the movie minus the parts I did not want the girls to see. Then we watched it together on the computer with me clicking on each clip as the one before it ended. Although this is not the ideal way of watching a movie; I think that it was important for me to shelter my children from that type of negative influence.

I have discussed my thoughts on this subject with several people. Some agree with me and some don’t. What we did all agree on is that we as parents need to know our children’s hearts. We need to know what scares them. We need to know what will influence them. We need to know their maturity level when it comes to different things. What affects one child the wrong way may not affect another in the same way. [Please do not misunderstand; I do believe that ANY dabbling with the demonic world will affect anyone negatively (whether it appears to or not) and that God is completely against it based on the verses above (Deuteronomy 18:9-12)]. When it comes to our children’s fears and insecurities we are responsible before God to care for their hearts. I will not knowingly put my children in a situation which will cause them to be in fear. If I know that something in a movie will give them nightmares; I will choose not to show it to them. It is possible that something that causes fear now won’t affect them as they get older and become more mature. If I know my child’s heart then I will also know when that time comes. Bottom line is that I need to use discernment not only for my life but also with my children. They are too young to have proper discernment themselves; so I need to have it for them. As I grow in my walk with God; I know that he will help me guard my children’s hearts.

“For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.

He holds victory in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless,

for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones.

Then you will understand what is right and just and fair—every good path.

For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.

Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you.” Proverbs 2: 6-11

For a more in-depth Christian review of “The Princess and the Frog;” I recommend Focus on the Family’s–Plugged In Movie Reviews:

http://www.pluggedin.com/videos/2010/q1/princessandthefrog.aspx

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UPDATE: In May 2010 we decided to get rid of several of our Disney movies that had witchcraft, questionable, & scary stuff in them (like Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, The Little Mermaid, The Princess and the Frog, etc.). We still kept ones like Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast where all of the magic is pretend and can’t actually happen in real life (pumpkin coach, talking dishes, etc.). [We just made the decision that we didn’t want to expose the girls to the scary images along with the evil things portrayed in those movies. Kendal does get scared easily and sometimes has nightmares. I don’t have a problem with me watching most of them because I can discern what is good/evil etc. We don’t think that they are old enough to discern for themselves so we are doing it for them. We are perfectly fine with them liking the Princesses themselves. We just decided that there are other ways to let them play with, see, etc. the princesses without them watching the movies.

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Related Post: Should Christians Go Where Demons Dwell?