“Mirror, Mirror” and The Lonely Quest For Beauty

In my last post I ranted about a fairy tale movie I disliked, “Into the Woods,” so now I’ll tell you about one I enjoyed a lot. “You’ll like it so much, Mummy,” said my oldest who had watched it before with Daddy, “It was, like, made for you!” The movie is called Mirror, Mirror and stars Julia Roberts as Snow White’s wicked step-mother. But rather than being just another evil old lady movie, Mirror, Mirror takes quite an interesting and humourus look at the problem of beauty. 

 

The story is told from the perspective of the step-mother, an aging queen who is trying to hang on to the beauty of her youth with all her might. Her most intimate and honest relationship is with her magic mirror; it is the only one permitted to see her vulnerability and insecurity. Time is taking its toll and threatening to snatch away her claim to being “the fairest of them all.” As she has always used her beauty as a source of power, this loss has not only personal but political ramifications, and makes her fearful of losing her crown. 

  
When a handsome (but this time not sleezy like the one in Into the Woods) young prince arrives at the castle, she sees in him an opportunity to solve her financial problems and gain security. The pre-ball ‘beauty treatments’ she undergoes are a painfully funny commentary on woman’s willingness to suffer for her appearance. She uses a a bird-dropping face mask, bee stings on her lips as an instant volumizer, and a horrific harness-like undergarment to squeeze her into her old dress size, to name a few. 

 Yet despite her physical appeal, the queen lacks warmth; she is always determined to feel superior to those she is with, even the prince whose affections she is trying to gain. While she dresses as a magnificent peacock for the costume ball, the outfit she chooses him is that of a rabbit, with silly huge ears sticking out of his hat. It is very clear who is in charge. 

  
 All her efforts at impressing him are trumped by the simple elegance of Snow White, who arrives dressed as a swan, and captivates the prince. The most charming part about her though, rather than her appearance, is how little she thinks of herself. Her defining traits are to be found in her care for others, from the palace servants to the people of her late father’s kingdom. She shines in relationship, rather than in isolation. Integrity and finding the courage to fight for the good are what make this girl attractive. Her Audrey Hepburn-like beauty is something that simply fits with the goodness that exudes from within. 
   
She proves herself a lot more capable than even she expected she was, and finds, with the amusing help of her friends the dwarves, the strength to fight to reclaim the throne of her father from the abusive queen who is taxing the people to death to support her lavish lifestyle. While the young Snow White’s life expands as she gains in her sense of purpose and in serving others, the older queen’s life, built on manipulation and control, collapses inwards as her isolating self-admiration becomes insufficient to ensure her own happiness.   

I highly recommend this movie, for being both humourus and thoughtfully done, and touching on interesting themes of youth, age, beauty, generosity and selfishness. The themes of using beauty as a source of power, and basing one’s self-worth on externals, are certainly important issues facing women in our society today, and worth discussing with our daughters and friends. 

Finally, Mirror, Mirror also ends with an unexpected Bollywood style song and dance number by Snow and the dwarves which is sure to make you laugh! 😄 I sure did!

Movie Rant: “Into the Woods”

I don’t think I’m that hard to please when it comes to movies. I laugh easily, like most things unless they are creepy or offensive, and even enjoy lots of kids family movies.  But not this one! Despite loving the Muppets musicals and being a fan of most fairy tales, I could hardly handle this fairly tale musical, Into the Woods.

  

The basic recipe was:

  1. Take a whole bunch of fairy tales.
  2. Put them in a blender.
  3. Sing A LOT.
  4. Make it all rhyme. The songs don’t have to make sense as long as they rhyme.
  5. Then, when everyone thinks it’s over, make it an hour longer!

Besides the headache of hearing endlessly rhyming songs sung loudly to a very similar tune, there was the added annoyance of a totally confusing message. At one point Little Red Riding Hood, while plotting to kill a giant, says, “I don’t think my mom would be very proud of me. I’m about to murder someone.” She is reassured by Cinderella, in song of course, not to worry, cause “Your mother isn’t here; you have to make you own decisions now.” So while we hear at one moment that giants are perhaps people, too, and there could even be good giants, we in the next moment witness the ‘good guys’ killing one anyway. Wha!?

Earlier Red Riding Hood is met in the forest by a creepy wolf, who is, unsurprisingly, played by Johnny Depp (please, Johnny, stop playing creepos—you’re too good at it!). He sings about her tender flesh in a way that seems quite unrelated to his belly (yuck!) and she, after being eaten by him and then rescued, pipes away about all she learned…and keeps repeating that it was scary but exciting. What are we supposed to make of that!?

Another “charming” moment is when the sleezy prince woos the baker’s wife, who just had a long awaited baby, by reassuring her that they should  “live in the moment” and that anything goes “in the woods.” This is after he and his brother prince sang of their supposedly heart wrenching love struck “agony” for their newly met beloveds, Cinderella and Rapunzel, while tearing at their shirts at the top of a waterfall. Ugh! 😝 As the prince later explained, “I was raised to be charming, not sincere.” My girls were not impressed. 

Well, anyway, forgive me as this was more of a rant than a review, but in the hopes of sparing precious hours of your life, here is my advice: If anyone invites you Into the Woods, run! 🏃🏻🏃🏻🏃🏻

Into Loving Arms: Rescuing Korea’s Abandoned Babies

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I’ve had the honour of previewing a very beautiful film called “The Drop Box.” It is about a courageous South-Korean man, Pastor Lee Jong-rak, and his loving wife, who care for babies abandoned on the streets of Seoul with a delicacy and tenderness that frequently moved me to tears.

It all began with their son, Eun-man, who was born with extreme physical disabilities. Because their son needed such constant care, Pastor Lee had to sell their house and move into a ward of the hospital with their 6 year old daughter, staying there for 5 years. They soon came to see, by the tenderness he inspired in others and by his ability to smile despite all his physical limitations, that Eun-man was both a gift to them and a teacher about the preciousness of life.

When they moved out of the hospital, other people began to bring them their disabled babies, because they knew Pastor Lee and his wife would care for them. In a society with a very low tolerance for disability or mental illness, their warm acceptance is a rare and special gift to disadvantaged children. Other such babies were being left on the streets after birth, to die in the cold. So to enable people to be able to abandon their babies anonymously, but safely, Pastor Lee made a drop box and installed it in the outer wall of his house.

When a baby is left, a bell sounds and Pastor Lee rushes down to pick up the child. It is so moving to see this older man hurrying down the stairs at 2 am to cradle a strange infant, praying on his knees in thanksgiving for this precious life. This is such generosity. This is such love.

Sometimes the babies are clean and swaddled, other times they still have the cord attached and have just been born. Sometimes they are accompanied by a sad letter from a teenage mother who doesn’t have her family’s support to care for her child…words like, “I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry. Please take care of my baby.”

“When I was naked, you clothed me, when I was hungry, you fed me…as you do to the least of these little ones, so you do unto me.”

Hundreds of babies are saved through the baby box each year. So many little ones who didn’t die abandoned on the cold, hard cement of a back alley. Most go to government agencies to be placed in care, but Pastor Lee and his wife have also adopted many, especially ones with disabilities, and are currently raising, with some help, 15 children. It is worth seeing this gorgeously filmed and beautifully scored movie just to see their happy little smiles, and to rejoice with them in the simple but miraculous gift of being alive.

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They’re not the unnecessary ones in the world.
God sent them here for a purpose.
Pastor Lee Jong-rak

While “The Drop Box” does deal with serious subject matter, it is ultimately a breath of hope in our world which is so often ready to give up on life. Pastor Lee’s humble but firm conviction that every child has a purpose and mission, and that their life—every life— is worth more than the whole world, resounds in my heart.

One lovely example is one of Pastor Lee’s adopted sons who was born missing many parts of his fingers. He struggled against his fear of rejection and ran for class president in his elementary school. To his great surprise, he was elected, twice! He asked his classmates why they voted for him, despite being “a disabled.” “Because you’re good at sports and everything else,” they said, and from then on his memories of being teased and rejected melted away. When he grows up, he wants to take over his father’s work in caring for abandoned babies and children, so all his father’s work isn’t lost, and so he can do more good. The maturity of this child!

I most heartily recommend seeing “The Drop Box,” the inspiring story of the Korean couple who so heroically pour themselves out night and day for the sake of love. As part of the proceeds go to support their amazing work for the most vulnerable—infants in danger of being abandoned—why not spread the word and invite your friends, too? Just click on the heart in the top right corner of the page to access the easy share buttons on the bottom of the page, and send this story to your friends on Twitter, Facebook or Google +. If you’re a follower and receive my posts in your email box, just click on “leave comment” at the bottom of the post and it will take you to my blog site so you can use the share buttons or comment yourself!

Canadian theatre showings will be March 4th and 5th. Here is the trailer to give you a taste!

The Drop Box Film – Award-Winning Documentary About Life

If you feel inspired to donate to help care for the many babies who are left in the drop box, or even to help support a mother in need to be able to keep and care for her baby, please visit the website below. Thank you and God bless you!

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