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Christian Analysis of American Culture (CAP Ministry)
Entertainment Media Analysis Report
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UPDATED December 31, 2003
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|ALERT: To fully understand this report you should first visit the topics suggested by the CAP Site Map (Table of Contents). Further, if you do not want the plot, ending, or "secrets" of a movie spoiled for you, skip the Summary/Commentary. In any case, be sure to visit the Findings/Scoring section -- it is completely objective to His Word and is the heart of the CAP Entertainment Media Analysis Model applied to this movie.|
(2003), G -- ...moving and value-shaping to some extent. But...
Cast/Crew Details Courtesy Internet Movie Database
Production (US): Walt Disney Pictures
Distribution (US): Buena Vista Pictures
Director(s): Aaron Blaise, Robert Walker
Producer(s): Igor Khait, Chuck Williams, Chuck Williams
Screenplay: Steve Bencich, Ron J. Friedman
Written By: Lorne Cameron, David Hoselton
Story: Broose Johnson, Tab Murphy
Music: Phil Collins, Mark Mancina
Art: Stephen J. Anderson
I remind our readers that our analyses are for parents and grandparents to tell them about the content of a film so they may make and informed moral decision whether it is fit for their children (or themselves) using the teachings and expectations of Jesus Christ (who is God, the judge of "moral") as the investigation standards, not man's tolerances, political correctness or cultural beliefs. This film presents the ancient Alaskan Native culture with what is claimed to be their faith firmly planted in belief in spirits and magic. Please read the "BEFORE you read on..." link (here and above) before you read on. As you do, recall that even Pocahontas converted from a form of spirit worship to Christianity (which Disney's animated feature Pocahontas failed to mention). Remember also that the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) does not incorporate spiritual/religious matters into their evaluation of a film except apparently to treat only Christianity as something about which to be warned. We do. Which accounts for the red CAPCon Alert light, due entirely to material offensive to God.
The story is about three young adult to teenage brothers: mature and most loving Sitka, the eldest (voice of D. B. Sweeney); somewhat cerebral or at least approaching level-headed Denahi (voice of Jason Raize), the middle son; wild and arrogant Kenai (voice of Joaquin Phoenix), the youngest of the three. Kenai was desperate to become a man and get his hand print on the wall of the ages. But to do that Kenai must accept the duties the shaman assigns him. This is a story of a boy who became a man by becoming a bear.
On an excursion into the wilderness, the three brothers encounter a bear which gains the upper hand in a man-bear battle. Seeing his brothers in mortal danger, Sitka commits suicide to save his brothers from the bear by causing an ice fall that took him and the bear into the icy waters below. Sitka did not survive. While self-sacrifice to save others is indeed a noble gesture, it is playing with fire to present such dissonance in and as entertainment for such a young audience as the target audience for this movie. It takes a great deal of experiential maturity to adequately assess all losses to make such a decision wisely. Kids do not possess such experiential maturity. Yet.
Sitka is transformed into the spirit of an eagle and assumes his function to watch over his brothers. In another man-bear battle, Kenai kills the bear. From his perspective, he killed a monster. But what is the perspective from the bear's point of view? Kenai learns first-hand the perspective of the bear. Sitka changes Kenai into a bear who then lives among them and bonds with them, especially Koda (voice of Jeremy Suarez), a young bear cub separated from his mother. Here is where I would love to tell you of the relationship between Kenai, Koda, the mother bear and others, but to do so would spoil the movie for they who decide the items in the rather short listing in the Findings/Scoring section are acceptable to their families.
The theme of this movie indeed touches warmly on brotherhood and "racial tolerance." But all along, the base of the story is founded in belief in magic and in the spirits of the dead having control over life and the living. It might be wise to remind us here that God is very specific about the use of "magic", spiritism and consulting the dead. [Deut. 18:10 - 11; 2Chr. 33:6; Rev. 21:8] While in the traditional sense the "magic" in this movie did not look at all like witchcraft, that it wears a different mask or is painted with a different brush does not absolve its heart from being subject to His Word.
Comments such as Don't upset the spirits" and "The great spirits have revealed to me..." pepper the script. Such is a most difficult dilemma to consider: that spirits have an influence over our lives. Indeed, each child has a guardian angel which beholds the very face of God [Matt. 18:10]. Could not the spirits of the ancient beliefs not have been their concept of the angels which watch over us? The contradiction comes as the beliefs expressed in this movie have animal spirits watching over us. Take great care, mom/dad if you decide to expose your children to this concept that dangerously borders on, if not is, worship of the planet and life on it (Gaiaism?) instead of worship of the Creator of the planet and all life on it [John 14:6]. Granted, this sort of belief was (and, to some, is) a system of faith and doctrine but that a population or culture adopts a system of faith does not make it acceptable to God [Col. 2:8].
Disney was nearly as magnificent in their animation and artistry as in other Disney works of art. Their portrayal of the elderly as wise and respected was delightful, conjuring hope in myself to be treated with the respect due wisdom that comes only with age when I become old. Their use of native language at the beginning of the film was so articulate as to stir appreciation of the language and its intricacies of inflection. Their use of color and shading was so well done I could almost feel the cold in one of the scenes of the wind-blown frozen arctic arena. A beautiful work to behold, indeed in keeping with the style and history of Disney animation for children, moving and value-shaping to some extent. But then, so will the antiChrist be beautiful and value-shaping. Disney may again be saying an evil thing with a beautiful voice. God warns us many times of being deceived, especially about Him being mocked by such teachings as acceptance of spirit worship over worship of Him [Gal. 6:7].
While this film was 100% free of any noted manner of use of tobacco and alcohol/intoxicants, it was deeply offensive to His Word with its promotion of belief in magic and the spirits of the dead for well-being and knowledge. It was also somewhat violent in its depiction of the man-bear battles. There was only one sexual innuendo as a bear told an affectionate bear couple to "Get a cave", capitalizing on the increasingly popular expression among our teens, "Get a room (motel room)" said to a pair making out implying a suggestion to satisfy their lust. And another concern might be important to point out -- that of the suicide of Sitka. It was a noble deed, to be sure. But he did not stay dead. In the movie, he came back as an eagle who could resume being human at will. Suicide, no matter how noble the cause, is final. This movie does not say that. It paints a glossy picture of no harm.
If needed to focus or fortify, applicable text is underlined or bracketed [ ]. If you wish to have full context available, the Blue Letter Bible is a convenient source. If you use the Blue Letter Bible, a new window will open. Close it to return here or use "Window" in your browser's menu bar to alternate between the CAP page and the Blue Letter Bible page.
***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)
Sexual Immorality (S)
Offense to God (O)
Single Christian Network
|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.|