That Easter Moment: Eucatastrophe in the new Beauty and the Beast

beauty-and-the-beast-2017Disney’s new live-action adaptation of the classic animated musical Beauty and the Beast has a lot of people talking. Actually, it has me singing. As a young teen in 1991, I had the musical memorized. As I sat in the cinema this past March at age 40, I had to keep one hand over my mouth to keep from belting out lines like, “I want adventure in the great wide somewhere…” and “I use antlers in all of my decorating!” It’s now been weeks since I saw the new movie, yet Beauty and the Beast earworms remain. (She writes, muttering, “…don’t believe me? Ask the dishes!”)

So it has us talking and singing. And why not? There’s lots to talk (and sing) about. The new film makes some significant adjustments to 1991’s script and story: new songs, updated lyrics, additional backstory. The changes do more than simply re-heat and re-serve an animated classic. Beauty and the Beast 2017 spins the “tale as old as time” for a modern audience. Three changes interest me the most, the third in a timely way. [Read more…]

Fantastic, Forceful Films: Common elements in Fantastic Beasts and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

rogue-one-jyn-ersa-geared-up(Some Rogue One spoilers below – clearly marked in ALL CAPS. Fantastic Beasts spoilers too, but seriously, people, you’ve had weeks …)

Ever since I learned to speak Star Wars at the Mythgard Institute a year ago, I’ve been eyeing the places where the Harry Potter and Star Wars franchises seem to intersect, and these places are many. So the fact that Warner Brothers and Disney Studios have, within a month, released film tie-ins to their beloved epics is no great shock. Neither is the fact that the films employ common elements and themes in seeking to delight long-time fans while enticing new ones. Let’s talk about four elements Fantastic Beasts and Rogue One share.

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Theophany Sermon: Stags As Serpent Killers

Who doesn’t love the White Stag? Majestic, noble, and pure, it is the traditional, powerful symbol of Christ, the Peace and Power of the Father. We meet it (him?) not only in Western tapestry and iconographic tradition — alongside, notably, St. Godric — but in popular fantasy as well. Readers of this site are familiar enough with the appearance of the White Stag at the end of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe as well as in the Harry Potter stories, especially in the climax of Prisoner of Azkaban and, his mate, the cervus fugitivus, in the pivotal Forest of Dean scene of Deathly Hallows, that I don’t need to explain his importance in great story telling.

What I learned recently, though, is that the stag is known in the Orthodox Church at least as the great enemy of serpents. The stag likes to lunch on the low-crawlers. This was revealed to me in that most unexpected of places, a sermon, at the Feast of Theophany. With the Deacon’s permission, I share that exploration of the meaning of Theophany (represented, I think, in the Ron the Baptist scene alluded to above) in which the stag symbolism is explained. Enjoy!

Saturday Vespers, January 7, 2012 – Isaiah 35:1-10 – St. George the Chozebite

Fr. Deacon Theophan Warren, All Saints Orthodox Church, Chicago, Illinois

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

As we continue our celebration of the glorious feast of Christ’s baptism in the Jordan, and the revelation of the worship of the Holy Trinity this evening, my brothers and sisters in Christ, I thought it fitting to preach on this passage from the thirty-fifth chapter of the Prophet Isaiah.  I would contend that in this one single chapter of Holy Scripture, the whole of salvation history is contained, along with the prophetic vision of the eschatological end of this world, and the beginning of the next.  Of course, I do not mean to say that every detail of the history of salvation is contained herein, but let us briefly examine this passage tonight under three headings:

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One Serious Reader’s Reflections on Holy Friday

Traditional Christians of both East and West are observing Great and Holy Friday today in remembrance of the sacrificial death of Jesus of Nazareth whom they revere as ‘Christ’ or Messiah. As one of those believers, I offer some thoughts I have had before and after, and, alas, even during the services of this past week along these lines. I have been startled by how much of the imagery of the books we discuss here resonate with the historical events and eternal verities we commemorate this weekend. If you are not a Christian, I doubt these musings below the jump will have any value to you; I will return to my more profane posts for all readers on Monday.

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Guest Post: Tis the Season for Holly Wandlore

Hey, the Contact Tab is working and I have received two Guest Posts and a YouTube musical from Russia, no less, in as many days. Here — after the jump — is the short Wandlore piece that revealed the broken Contact Form: [Read more…]