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Big Bird in China (1987), NR
Analysis Date: May 15, 2003
CAP Score: 98 out of 100
CAP Influence Density: 0.04
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BIG BIRD IN CHINA (1987), NR -- ...quiet, serene and gentle-paced with a gentle heart...
Production (US): The Sesame Workshop (previously The Children's Television Workshop)
Distribution (US): Random House Home Video
Director(s): Jon Stone
Producer(s): Jon Stone
Written by/Screenplay: Jon Stone, Joseph A. Bailey
Music: Dick Lieb
Editing: Ken Gutstein
Production Design: Brooks Fountain
Art Direction: Victor Di Napoli
Viewed on Video Tape
With a final score of 98 out of 100, Big Bird in China could have been rated G. It is one of the very few of the more than 700 films we have analyzed to have earned a CAPCon Alert GREEN light.
From a Chinese curio shop in Chinatown, NYC, Big Bird (Caroll Spinney) gets a hankering to visit the legendary Phoenix (bird of flame) for a cultural exchange. The shopkeeper has a wall hanging that tells of four places the seeker of the Phoenix must visit before he gets to meet the Phoenix. The shopkeeper also tells Big Bird that at each place that must be visited there will be a monkey with vital information about the location of the next place that must be visited. Big Bird pouts and whines and begs and mockingly (in words only) throws a child's tantrum until the shopkeeper agrees to let Big Bird take the wall hanging with him and go to China to visit the Phoenix. Barkley the dog (Brian Muehl) goes with Big Bird to embark on the long and arduous journey to meet the Phoenix. Brian Muehl must be one of the world's greatest limber athletes to be able to perform Barkley's movements and mannerisms so well and so realistically. He was even a perfect flow in a four-footed trot.
In China, Big Bird has a rough time finding anyone who can speak English. The viewer is taken on a tour of the spartan beauty of rural and urban China and some breathtaking natural beauty as Big Bird and company seek the Phoenix. As Big Bird travels to find someone who speaks "American", we are treated to some Chinese kindergartners demonstrating a delicate dance, to a tai ji demonstration and are given an opportunity to learn some Chinese words. Eventually along the way, Big Bird happens on a little girl about seven or eight years old who speaks "American." Roughly, but it is obvious she is at least bilingual.
The little girl, Xiao Foo (Quyang Lien-Tze, a delightful and charming young lady who fits the needs of the part perfectly) advises Big Bird that they can, together, find the four places that must be visited before they can meet the Phoenix. The only real difficulty is that one of the landmarks they must find is a glass chessboard which turns out to be the morning sun glimmering over water-soaked rice paddies in a checkered pattern. Another difficulty is finding stone soldiers. While this would seem to imply statues of soldiers, it turns out the stone soldiers are the mountain peaks. Clever and witty it was. And wait until you see the feathers that grow from the river banks.
Though this is a journey into a non-Christian culture, there is little that would likely raise the eyebrows of Christian parents and grandparents except the story of an evil demon king and his demons, ghosts and spirits filled with hate casting spells to control benevolent mythical creatures. In addition, much of the film is based on magic such as performed by a traditional Chinese children's hero, the Monkey King (clearly a man in a suit with makeup) vanishing and reappearing, multiplying and evaporating but none of it for sinister purposes, just to annoy Big Bird. The plot includes a childhood "magic" story of mythical beings. The only item that may be emulated by your son(s) or daughter(s) because of a performance by a famous role model, Big Bird, is when he threatened to fight the Monkey King because of the Monkey King's frustrating mischief [1 Tim. 3:3].
Big Bird in China is quiet, serene and gentle-paced with a gentle heart and display of some delightful child performances and cultural identities [Titus 3:2, Prov. 16:19]
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***Selected Scriptures of Armour against the influence of the entertainment industry***
As always, it is best to refer to the Findings/Scoring section -- the heart of the CAP analysis model -- for the most complete assessment possible of this movie.
Wanton Violence/Crime (W)
Offense to God (O)
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|NOTE: While the Summary/Commentary section of these reports is precisely that -- a summary in commentary format which can be and sometimes is subjective, the actual CAP Analysis Model (the Findings/Scoring section) makes no scoring allowances for trumped-up "messages" to excuse, for manufacture of justification for, or camouflaging of ignominious content or aberrant behavior or imagery with "redeeming" programming. Disguising sinful behavior in a theme/plot does not excuse the sinful behavior of either the one who is drawing pleasure or example of behavior or thought from the sinful display or of the practitioners demonstrating the sinful behavior. We make no attempt to quantify the "artistic" or "entertainment" value of a movie -- whether a movie has any positive value or "entertainment" value is up to mom/dad. The CAP analysis model is the only known set of tools available to parents and grandparents which give them the control they need, bypassing the opinion-based assessment of movies by others and defeating the deceit of those who would say anything to convince their parents otherwise. The model is completely objective to His Word. Our investigation standards are founded in the teachings and expectations of Jesus Christ. If a sinful behavior is portrayed, it is called sinful whether Hollywood tries to make it otherwise. That the sinful behavior is "justified" by some manufactured conditions does not soften nor erase the price of sin. Whether there is application of fantasy "justification" or "redemption" is up to mom/dad.|
|"There are some in the entertainment industry who maintain that 1) violent programming is harmless because no studies exist that prove a connection between violent entertainment and aggressive behavior in children, and 2) young people know that television, movies, and video games are simply fantasy. Unfortunately, they are wrong on both accounts." And "Viewing violence may lead to real life violence." I applaud these associations for fortifying 1 Cor. 15:33. Read the rest of the story. From our more than eight years of study, I contend that other aberrant behaviors, attitudes, and expressions can be inserted in place of "violence" in that statement. Our Director - Child Psychology Support, a licensed psychologist and certified school psychologist concurs. For example, "Viewing arrogance against fair authority may lead to your kids defying you in real life." Or "Viewing sex may lead to sex in real life." Likewise and especially with impudence, hate and foul language. I further contend that any positive behavior can be inserted in place of "violence" with the same chance or likelihood of being a behavior template for the observer; of being incorporated into the behavior mechanics and/or coping skills of the observer. In choosing your entertainment, please consider carefully the "rest of the story" and our findings.|