Encanto: Soul Triptych Magic

Encanto | Disney Movies Disney’s animated films are known for being enchanting. Whether we are taken deep into the forest to the castle of a Beast or swept off to the glorious savannahs of Africa, these films can take audiences somewhere, somewhen that is magical. In its sixtieth animated feature, Encanto, Disney again brings the enchantment, like the title indicates, as it presents the story of a non-magical girl trying to help and heal her magical family. Like a squib in a house of wizards, Maribel Madrigal is unable to communicate with animals, lift buildings, or control the weather (all abilities her family members possess), but she comes to understand that families and love are not about those kinds of gifts. In part, since the story is set in Columbia, the film relies beautifully on the tradition of magical realism. However, it also relies nicely on a very specific literary structure that we have often visited here: the soul triptych. Join me after the break for a look at the way in which the number three (and twelve), along with a familiar triune structure helps Encanto weave its spell. And yes, we will talk about Bruno!

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The Batman- Coming Soon with Some Familiar Hogwarts Faces under Those Masks!

Superhero movies continue to be popular these days, and even without a multiverse storyline to explain all his incarnations, we’re stillBatman bearing his traditional black batsuit stands in the rain surrounded by red light with the film's logo, title and release date beneath him seeing plenty of versions of Gotham’s Caped Crusader. The new “Bat and Cat” Trailer gives a good long sneak peek at The Batman, scheduled for theatrical release March 4, 2022. If you are a fan (or even if you’re not), you may want to check out this amazing trailer, not only for the incredible Batmobile action sequences that should be phenomenal on the big screen, but also to see some Hogwarts alums who are trading in their robes for capes… and claws.

Details after the jump!

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Happy Birthday to the True Ringbearer!

On January 3, 1892, John Ronald Ruel Tolkien was born, and our world has been significantly enriched by his presence in it. In addition to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, he translated Beowulf, created all of Middle Earth and its many cultures, places, and languages.Biography of J.R.R Tolkien | Biography Online and helped found a little group called The Inklings.  Professor Tolkien and the Inklings,  particularly C.S. Lewis, helped lay the foundation of the mythopoetic worldview that is so central to all we do here and to the books we love to read and discuss. Thus, as I heard someone suggest this morning, we should all lift our classes this evening and declare a toast, “To the Professor!” If you prefer, you may wish to honor him by reading some of his beautiful words, or even by enjoying some of the many creative interpretations of them. I can recommend one I’ve been enjoying lately: Ambient Works Rivendell Ambience video (very pleasant in the background on a snowy day). There are also videos for the Misty Mountains and other aspects of Middle Earth to put one in a fit state of mind to celebrate the day. Or, one could simply shoot off some fireworks or make a dramatic disappearance and go on an adventure.

Happy One Hundred and Thirtieth Birthday, Professor Tolkien, and thank you for letting us into your world!

Does Anyone “Really” Die in Stories?

As one year dies and another begins, and, at least in my part of the world, most outdoor growing things are dead or wisely biding their time to emerge in a few months, it is a fitting time to think about how stories, like those we analyze and discuss here, address the idea of death. Perhaps this is a rather glum subject, but it does not have to be. I sometimes joke with my literature and mythology students that no one ever “really” dies in mythology, that characters morph from one myth into another, that the stories themselves sustain the characters. In literature, characters can continue to live, as we revisit them, even if they “die” within the structure of the narrative. Rowling, like all the good storytellers and myth-makers who create the tales that teach and entertain us, works with the idea that those who die don’t really leave, whether they are family members or cuddly pigs; but perhaps it is a bit of stretch to assume no one “really” dies in these stories. Let’s ponder that further and see.

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The Faerie Queene and The Christmas Pig

One of the most wonderful features of Troubled Blood, at least for those of us who are devoted to Edmund Spenser, is the Faerie Queene subtext woven throughout Robin Ellacott and Cormoran Strike’s year-and-a-bit-long investigation into the cold case of Margot Bamborough. With the publication of The Christmas Pig, it’s clear that J.K. Rowling’s Faerie Queene theme was not a one-shot effort, but evidence of Spenser’s prominence in her compost pile of influences. In addition to the wonderful connections to Scripture, Dante, and my longtime favorite, The Velveteen Rabbit, The Christmas Pig uses the Spenser template beautifully to weave an accessible, yet remarkably effective, allegory that is completely different from the latest Strike adventure while still drawing from the deep and powerful well of Spenser.

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