Goodness is Beautiful

There are many examples of good character in movies that we can learn from. And, the more I read about Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella, the more I am inclined to have a teen movie night with this in the future. So many lessons, where to start? The protagonist Ella loses both her parents at a young age, but they have done a marvelous job instilling virtue and moral rightness in their daughter. The mother, before she died, admonishes Ella to always be “kind and courageous”. And, the film goes on to portray Ella taking to heart the wisdom of her mother. The young woman remains true to herself, and doesn’t let her circumstances get the best of her. She remains good, caring and sweet despite the cruelty she receives in return (does this sound familiar to our religious ears?). Her parents prepared Ella for what to do when the world isn’t right. This is a good message for all of us today. Father Barron gives a fantastic critique of the movie from this perspective:

we have a beautiful, vivacious, and morally upright young lady whose life becomes a nightmare through the intervention of untimely death and wicked oppression. So thorough was her loss of dignity that she finds herself covered in dust, her beauty obscured. It does not require a huge leap of imagination to see this as an allegory of the fall of the human race. God created us as beautiful, indeed in his own image and likeness, but through sin and the ministrations of the devil, we descended into dysfunction, and our beauty was covered over. In the technical language of the theologians, though we had kept the image of God, we had lost our likeness to him.

The lessons in this film are not geared only toward girls, as the Catholic Gentleman points out, but “Prince Charming” has a lot to teach our young men about what it means to be good men:

The Prince’s humble opinion of himself is quite out of character for movie men. The appeal of Christian Grey in the recent 50 Shades of Grey filmwhich I have not seen and will not see, is based exclusively on his power and wealth. As one commentator noted, an obese man of average means who behaved the same way would end up in prison, not glamorized in a novel. Christian is a horrible, abusive person who is defined by his pride and lust for control— and yet he is attractive to the main character because of these things, not in spite of them. The Prince presents an entirely different picture. Cinderella, unlike the Prince’s other suitors, is not attracted to him because he is rich or powerful or needy in some way, but because he is good and kind. And in turn, those are the very reasons the Prince is attracted to Cinderella.

These two characters, the Prince and Ella, did not become what they are by chance. But we can see what every parent hopes for in their children. Goodness, kindness, respectful, courageous, loving, and merciful. I hope that you might consider taking your whole family to see this wonderful film.

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