Aladdin

One Jump Ahead

“Riffraff,” “Street rat”
I don’t buy that
If only they’d look closer
Would they see a poor boy?
No, sirree
They’d find out
There’s so much more to me…

Speechless

Here comes a wave meant to wash me away
A tide that is taking me under
Swallowing sand, left with nothing to say
My voice drowned out in the thunder…

…I won’t be silenced
You can’t keep me quiet
Won’t tremble when you try it
All I know is I won’t go speechless
‘Cause I’ll breathe
When they try to suffocate me
Don’t you underestimate me
‘Cause I know that I won’t go speechless

To be heard.

To be seen.

To be known.

This, my friends, was the purpose of Aladdin.

I want to discuss a few scenes that stood out to me as hugely important for the story, but even more than that, they rang true for the world we live in.

Scene 1: Aladdin giving up his dates for the starving boy. Aladdin intervening on Jasmine’s behalf in the marketplace. Aladdin saving the girl from being trampled by Prince Ander’s entourage.

A combination of many small moments that clearly define Aladdin’s heart. He is a colorful character with large helpings of mischief and insecurities, but there is one overwhelming fact about who he is.

Aladdin is a prince

He is the diamond in the rough. Aladdin essentially lives hand to mouth, but he is not completely self-focused. He sees the needs of those around him and intervenes on their behalf.

It is this heart that wins Jasmine over. She’s seen enough glittery people to last a lifetime, what she longs for is substance. She finds substance in this street boy with a big smile and kind eyes.

Substance over style. Style fades, substance grows.

Scene 2: The Best First Date Ever

Likely the most iconic Aladdin scene in existence, the magic carpet ride where Jasmine and Aladdin get a chance to connect is beautiful.

In the animated movie, we see our two lovebirds fly around well known worldwide landmarks such as the Sphinx in Egypt or the Great Wall of China.

In this version, the landscape is far less defined or varied. I believe this was done for the purpose of enabling the audience to focus in more on the two people in the scene and their intentional interaction with each other.

One moment Jasmine is holding onto Aladdin’s arm as he makes a steep turn, another moment he’s handing her the “reins” so she can have a turn flying. They are singing together, he’s looking at her with pure delight because of her joyful response. She is enthralled with the opportunity he has given her to be 100% herself at this moment.

He loves conversing with her and he wants to hear what she has to say.

She SEES him. He HEARS her Aladdin

They communicate.

You can see the power created by these two. Aladdin’s life experience and mingled with Jasmine’s authority and education make them the perfect couple to lead Agrabah into the future. They share a similar heart that points them both in the same direction.

So many people are struggling with communication. So many people are involved in power struggles with one another that not only cause them harm, but also those around them who depend upon them.

Jasmine and Aladdin struggle, just like anyone else, but they persevere, and when the credits roll they have reached a strong place of connection.

Jaladdin communicating

Scene 3: Jasmine’s confrontation with Jafar. Jasmine’s almost wedding to Jafar.

The new song “Speechless” is one that brought tears to my eyes. We need to be paying attention right here. The two cultures represented in this fictional world are the Arab/Middle Eastern culture, and the Indian culture. Jasmine represents both.

These two cultures are among the worst in the world for how horribly they abuse and oppress their women. Many Middle Eastern women are wrapped up from head to toe, they cannot drive, they cannot be educated, they cannot work, they cannot even go places without a male escort.

They are not to be seen and certainly not to be heard! Women are treated like despised objects or pretty toys to be used on a whim.

*This may not be the case for every woman or family in these countries, it is not in any way my intention to claim that or disrespect those who are from these places but not living this way. But the injustice I speak of is a true reality for millions, and we need to be willing to stand up and acknowledge that without fear of “offending” someone. These women deserve more courageous actions on their behalf.

In India, millions of women have been downtrodden for centuries. Many of the old traditions are harsh on women. If a woman cannot produce children (which is often the result of abuse or malnutrition), she is often scorned and abused by either her husband and or her in-laws. Women fear to walk to someplace as necessary as the village well for fear of being raped or murdered on the way. Oh yes, rape often isn’t even treated as a crime. Thousands of women have died from starvation, abuse, murder, malnutrition, or working themselves to death. 

These silenced, abused, downtrodden women are crying out for a voice.

Jasmine essentially a prisoner in a golden cage.

Jafar takes personal pleasure in controlling and silencing Jasmine.

The look of glittering delight in Jafar’s eyes as he forces her to speak vows of marriage to him turned my stomach. I saw that scene in horror, as I can imagine just how many precious women throughout history have found themselves in the same situation. Unlike Jasmine, however, there was no one coming on a magic carpet to give them a way of escape.

This scene was a cry for justice. A cry for the women Jasmine represents who are precious and beautiful, who have amazing things to share with the world. These women who remain unseen, unheard, buried.

jasmine giving a voice

I know I went out of order here, but let’s talk about Jasmine’s confrontation with Jafar that happened before her forced almost-marriage.

She is being led away by the guards who were her own servants but a moment before. Her beloved father and handmaiden are unable to help her. She had to silence Rajah (who was glorious) to keep him safe.

In her mind’s eye, she pictures everyone else disappearing, every person who is an obstacle to what she knows is right. She cannot be silent, not this time!

Rather than just swallowing it again, Jasmine makes her stand.

She speaks out in a strong voice. She ignores the degrading words of Jafar and focuses all of her energy on speaking to Hakim, the noble lead guard who truly desires to do what is right.

Jasmine speaks to him personally, she knows his story and she cares about it. She appeals to his integrity and deepest desire to do the right thing. She exposes her deep heart of love and compassion for “my people”. And she gives him an opportunity to change his course of action. At this moment with the information they have, Hakim is a pivotal character for what happens next.

Jasmine sees him, she calls him by name. She knows his story and his heart, which means she has heard him. Jasmine does not speak on her behalf but rather on the behalf of her people, he and his people are her priority. And Jasmine gives him an opportunity to make a different choice, she gives him a chance to be his best self.

Jasmine true, sacrificial leadership.

Jafar may as well be a shadow in the back of the room, all of Jasmine’s focus is on Hakim and the future of Agrabah. She doesn’t attack, she doesn’t tear Hakim down, she builds him up with truth and calls the good man out of him.

It’s a beautiful, powerful, encouraging scene. While it seemed to do little good at the moment, it does truly change everyone’s future as Jasmine unconsciously opens her father’s eyes to her true worth as a strong and virtuous leader for Agrabah.

Scene 4: Aladdin Selflessly Walks Away

Both Aladdin and Jasmine are given opportunities to be heroic in the climax of this movie, but it is called Aladdin for a reason. When it comes down to it, Aladdin is the one who has to defeat Jafar.

Aladdin is not a brawny warrior like Hercules. He’s not a gallant and gorgeously arrayed prince like Phillip or Charming or even Beast once he’s been declawed. Aladdin is very simple and straightforward.

The reason Aladdin became “Prince Ali” and got himself involved in this mess was a noble one, he loved a girl and wanted to win her heart. During that time he has been stripped down to the core of his deepest longings and hurts, and he almost loses focus on who he is because of it.

Aladdin humbled

But here is where the diamond comes out.

Aladdin has the humility to recognize his mistakes and turn them into life experience. He sees the flaw in Jafar’s arrogant plan and manipulates Jafar into a natural course of actions and consequences. Jafar’s own pride and ambition lead him to the prison he chose for himself. #poeticjustice

Aladdin just saved the day. He could reason out that he deserves another wish, a wish that could elevate him in the eyes of the world and especially the eyes of the woman he loves. Instead, he again shows that selfless spirit and keeps his promise to free Genie even though it gains him nothing materially.

Aladdin just saved the royal family, an arrogant “hero” would demand recompense.

He does not. He looks at Jasmine, still loving her as much as the first day he met her, and he apologizes. He looks at everyone with humility and respect and walks away. #thisissosexy #jaladdinforever

As Aladdin walks out of the palace to return to Agrabah’s streets, he looks down at Jasmine’s hair barret with deep tenderness. He loves her and treasures her, and he always will. But because he loves her he is willing to walk away because he believes that is what is best for her.

True love Jaladdin

Jasmine has been treated as a pretty bird in a cage. Not a person.

A mere prize to be won, not a heart to fall in love with.

An obstacle to control or crush (I’m lookin’ at you, Jafar).

A child who must remain hidden for her protection. Not a mature young woman.

It’s all about what someone can get from her, or keep from her, or keep her from.

Jaladdin giving her his best.It was humble, it was peaceful, it was confident. Somehow Aladdin walks out of that gate with his head held high because he now knows his own worth, and he stayed true to his noble heart.

Yeah, I’d run after him too, Jasmine. #substanceoverstyle #diamondintherough #putaringonit #jaladdin

I loved that Jasmine runs to him on the street by herself. No guards, no entourage, no handmaiden or father. She may be the sultan now (a quick line that she uses to tease him) but she truly comes to him as herself. He heard her, he knew her for who she was when no one else did.

It’s humble, it’s normal, it’s sweet. And they have a beautiful kiss among their people, in the streets where they came together, in the streets of the place they both love.jladdin kiss

Jasmine knew her own worth but struggled to be heard. Aladdin doubted his own worth, he struggled to be seen.

 

Jasmine saw Aladdin, and Aladdin heard Jasmine.

And God saw that it was good, people. It was good.

Genie

Holy cow! Y’all, what? Robin Williams created Genie, and no one can ever replace him! Will Smith not only honored the character Williams created but he also didn’t try to replace him, he became his own Genie.

Genie took me by surprise multiple times, while he was not anywhere near as spastic as Robin’s Genie, he was regularly unexpected.

The Genie/Dalia romance was brilliantly used to fill in the story/characters and add a lighter balance to the romance scale. Jaladdin was dealing with heavy-duty issues that held kingdoms in the balance, Denie was talking about goats and boats. We needed both. #denie #jaladdin

DenieI can’t imagine being trapped and forced to do the will of whatever jerk happened to grab your lamp and give it a rub. If you actually consider Genie’s life, it’s pretty horrible.

Genie fell in love with Dalia, and he desired a normal life. He has all the power in the world and yet he’s as much a prisoner as someone in a dungeon. Dalia increased my longing for Genie’s freedom. When Dalia was being pressed down by Jafar’s dark power Genie’s sorrowful face for the woman he loves made my heart hurt. He was helpless to protect her.

This isn’t funny anymore, this is real.

The look of pure shock and deep emotion on Genie’s face when he realizes he is free was a beautiful moment. I loved the hug he gave Aladdin. The hug+his face spoke volumes.

genie and aladdin

I wasn’t overly fond of how the movie began, I felt it had a weak opening, but by the end, I was in love.

I did enjoy the first shot that skimmed over Jafar in the desert, Jasmine in her palace, and the torchlit houses of Agrabah.

But I felt that they rushed through the iconic scene of Aladdin weaving his way through the streets, stealing and smirking aka making a nuisance of himself. And since they made the decision to combine Aladdin’s first introduction with him and Jasmine meeting for the first time, I think they should have given it a less choppy, sped-up rhythm. It was an unnecessary sacrifice that bought them nothing.

I recognize that the filmmakers wanted to flesh out other parts of the story more, and I respect that. I just do not think they made the right call in how to carry that out.

Let’s talk Jafar.

I heard some people complaining that Jafar was too weak. He didn’t look or sound as scary as the animated one.

Ahem…have y’all seen the animated one? The animated Jafar is not anatomically correct. Animated characters are often exaggerated for effect or to bring across a specific message.

So please, drop that argument. This is supposed to look real, this is a real human playing this character.

And Jafar? Jafar was savage. 

Jafar was a perfect villain

Real villains aren’t always weirdly shaped with angry eyebrows and menacing voices. They are often normal-looking people with dark hearts. Jafar was a villain who was all too real, he reminded me of some true villains from history. Jafar was also supposed to be a dark reflection of Aladdin, someone who Aladdin could have been. Jafar even makes the comparison to Aladdin outside of The Cave of Wonders.

Jafar made my blood boil. 10/10 villain status.

This is the first live-action Disney Prince(ess) movie that I feel could actually support a sequel.

I have loved all of the live-action remakes up to this point. But I do not think that all of them need sequels. Cinderella was a very intimate, self-contained story. It was perfect. Beauty and the Beast was a more complicated tale, but it finished itself well at the ending. You feel whole by the end of both films.

While Aladdin also leaves you feeling deeply satisfied, you also have room for more.

REASONS ALADDIN CAN ACTUALLY SUPPORT A SEQUEL

I was utterly delighted in this movie, they got the big things correct and made room for fleshing out the story and characters. They delivered big moments and characters while also filling in a thousand tiny details (magic carpet building a sandcastle, anyone?)

Aladdin is my favorite old prince(ss) movie. I was so excited for this live-action version and I was not disappointed. I am enjoying myself immensely and I cannot wait for more!

a whole new world gif

Disney Live-Action Remakes: Not Losing What We Have, But Becoming More of Who We Are

Disney: Why Disney+ is a Good Thing

Frozen II

FinnRey Is True, Sacrificial Love

 

 

 

 

 

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How to Train Your Dragon 3: The Hidden World

*Major Spoilers ahead*

Fellow Dragon Riders…that was utterly magnificent.

What a beautiful, beautiful story. The animation was breathtaking, the music reached my soul, and the characters. Our precious, beautiful, real characters.

I was shocked by how deep this beautiful story was.

The Hidden World somehow managed to teach us about the 2 sides of love. Letting go…and committing. 

Commitment…

Hiccup has chosen to commit to holding on to Toothless over and over again. He’s fought against his natural instincts, his culture, and even the death of his own father in order to stay true to his best friend. He changed his culture to make room for Toothless. And Toothless has returned the favor every time. He’s saved Hiccup from death and even reordered the entire dragon social structure (his culture) by challenging the alpha in order to protect his best friend.

hiccup and toothless challenge the alpha.gif

Letting Go…

When Toothless discovered the new love of his life, the Light Fury, Hiccup let him go for the evening to be with her, a first for them. The truth is, he did not know the full meaning of this choice. If he could see into the future he may not have been brave enough to let Toothless go. How true to life that is, sometimes we open the door for these massive and often upsetting life changes without even realizing what we are getting into. Hiccup was opening the door to let his best friend and ally go, but he did it because he loves him.

The Hidden World showed the need that arises sometimes to let those we love go in order to reach their full potential and thrive. But at the same time, with Hiccup and Astrid’s love story, it showed us the value and need to commit.

hiccstrid

Hiccup and Astrid have been an incredible pairing since their first flight together. Their strengths and weaknesses complement each other beautifully. It’s clear that they make a mighty leadership team.

Up to this point, they have remained merely a boyfriend and girlfriend. And that was enough for the context of that time. But today is a new day.

Hiccup has been a chief for a year, and it’s clear that he’s still very green in this position. He’s doing his absolute best, but he’s literally flying by the seat of his pantsYet another new threat emerges, and Hiccup reacts. He must protect his own people, but he is also torn because he feels the need to protect the dragons as well.

Astrid is still operating as an encouraging and playful girlfriend. She’ll tease him, give him a good kiss, and then fly off into the sunset again. She supports him in public sometimes, but she does so sitting down. I am speaking literally, watch the movie again.

We aren’t ready for marriage.

astrid and hiccup, the hidden world

I love the role of the mentors in this movie. Gober is not always to be taken seriously, but his comments to Hiccup and Astrid about the need for them to commit to each other so that they may lead their people with strength are words of wisdom.

hiccup and his mother

Valka’s words of wisdom blew me away.

He thinks he has to lead alone just because his father did.

Valka looks to Astrid, who is still hanging back while she watches Hiccup in emotional agony, struggling with the weight of the world on his shoulders.

Go, he’ll listen to you.

In the darling flashbacks with tiny Hiccup and his father, we see that there was more to Hiccup and Stoick’s relationship than just the dysfunction we were introduced into in the first film. Stoick was a kind and tender father who was doing his utmost to lead his people and make the world safe for his beloved son.

stoick and little hiccup

And Stoick bore it alone. The scene of Hiccup walking down the stairs at night to find his mighty and strong father crying by the fire was so important.

Stoick did not have his queen. He did not have his better half, his light, his partner. He needed Valka. What might have happened if Valka had stayed? It’s possible she could have changed the culture before Hiccup ever had to. It’s possible Stoick and Hiccup may have never fallen out of understanding with each other. Stoick would likely even still be alive.

Valka knows all of this now. She now knows the weight and value of the position and place she gave up at Stoick’s side. She has the humility to accept her failure in that regard, but rather than sinking into the shame of that failure, she instead uses it to teach Astrid (the new generation) how to live better.

hiccstrid hidden world

Valka shows Astrid the value and honor of her position at Hiccup’s side. She makes Astrid aware that the need to commit fully to Hiccup isn’t just a future joy, it’s a necessity for Hiccup, for Astrid, and for the future of their people.

Hiccup cannot do this alone. And so Astrid takes up the challenge. She soothes his hurting heart, gives him encouragement, fights at his side, and puts everything that is overwhelming him into perspective. She shows him how to fly on his own two feet…thus replacing Toothless as the most important person in Hiccup’s world. 

toothless and light fury

There were so many mirrored moments from the first HTTYD movie in Hidden World. When Toothless has his first meeting of romance with the Light Fury, I was heavily reminded of the first scene where Toothless and Hiccup bonded.

Taming Toothless

This concept of discovering each other. Toothless regurgitates the fish that Hiccup brought him as a peace offering to share with his strange, two-legged friend. Toothless coaches Hiccup in what he wants him to do. Hiccup barely gets the fish down and then gives a large smile…that Toothless then attempts to copy.

smiling toothless

And my favorite, Hiccup draws his new friend. And Toothless copies.

In this scene, Hiccup teaches Toothless to be a personToothless is already deeply curious, intelligent, and noble. But the more time he spends as a part of Hiccup’s world the more person-like he is.

Enter, the Light Fury. She is beauty and grace itself, and she is all dragon.

Toothless has spent so much time with Hiccup that he is a bit lost on the traditional dance of the Furies and what he must do to impress his new lady love. He continues to look to his human friend for guidance, for just like Hiccup, Toothless has yet to learn to fly on his own.

Every scene with the Light Fury was so, instinctive. It was quiet, and yet it spoke volumes. This beautiful girl taught Toothless how to be a dragon again…and like Astrid for Hiccup, she replaces Hiccup as the most important person in Toothless’s life.

toothless and his queen

When Hiccup goes looking for his friend in the hidden world he finds Toothless seated as king of the dragons. He is comfortable, regal, at home. The look on Hiccup’s face is utter devastation. But it’s not just the crushing realization that he is going to have to lose his best friend, he is also overwhelmed with inadequacy.

He does not know how to be what his people need without Toothless. They have always relied on each other to fly. Toothless changed everything for him. Now he is beset on every front with enemies, questions, and problems, and his friend has found his place in the world apart from Hiccup.

Hiccup feels so small.

Whew. Did anyone else take that moment in the gut? This entire movie I was nodding my head. YES! Oh yes, I have felt this in my soul. I know what he feels.

The true conflict in this movie did not revolve around the villain, he merely put a face to a much bigger problem that brought the true struggle into the light. Hiccup and Toothless can no longer thrive together in the way they have up to this point. In order to truly grow, they must go their separate ways.

grimmel

Grimmel represented the problem that was going to continue to plague Hiccup and Toothless. Evil people coming after the dragons, and by extension, the Berkians. As chief of his people, Hiccup could not in good conscience keep endangering them. As alpha of the dragons, Toothless had to protect his people.

True leadership is not about control, it is more often about sacrifice and servanthood. Both Hiccup and Toothless had to give up being together as friends in order to do what was best for their own people, and for each other.

It hurt. It hurt a lot. The five-year-old child sitting 3 seats away from me in the theater was sobbing and I started tearing up on her behalf. I know, Baby. I KNOW! This hurts! This growing, changing, letting go, it hurts.

And yet…

Hiccup came into his own. His new partner, his lifelong partner, Astrid, stepped in beside him and gave him the courage to fly on his own. And he did. And he won.

hiccup flying on his own

Toothless and he fought together to save each other and their people. And then they said goodbye.

Another beautiful mirrored scene. When Hiccup awoke from the victory of his first battle where he and Toothless fought The Green Death, he was walking wounded. He was missing a leg. This represents his need for support. He almost falls to the ground when Toothless jumps in and holds him up. They have held each other up for years.

hiccup holding onto toothless

This time Hiccup is down a leg his new support steps in to hold him up, Astrid. She is his future.

astrid ive got you

Oh the symbolism. I love it!

hiccup saying goodbye

It hurts, but it is also so beautiful. It is so real. This is what love does. Love commits, love lets go. Love commits to doing what is best for the other one, and sometimes that means letting go.

Hiccup let go. His people were safe. He marries the love of his life and you know they will lead their people into a glorious future. He becomes a father, a tender, loving father by the looks of it. And he never stops being Toothless’ friend. I so deeply enjoyed the intimate scene at the end where Hiccup and Astrid take their children to go meet the dragons. We end on all of our favorite people (and dragons) flying together in the future they all fought to win.

I ended this movie with hope and joy. Yes, there is sadness, but there is also joy. So much joy. What a gift. What a gift.

I hope you enjoyed this movie as much as I did. Even if it hurt, I hope your heart was ministered to as well. There is so much truth and life to be gleaned here. I feel very blessed.

And yes…there are dragons.

How to Train Your Dragon: What Hiccup and Toothless Mean to Me

Netflix: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Frozen II

Avengers Endgame: Steve’s Past, Or His Future

If you haven’t seen the Avengers: Endgame trailer by now, then drop everything and take a moment to inhale this heroic humanity…

Aside from Scott Lang being the delightful goober that he is (I would have died of misery if I hadn’t had his comic relief during Ant-Man and the Wasp to ease the tension of this year’s movies)…

…the best part of this trailer to me is Steve and Nat.

I was originally very disappointed with Infinity War as I felt that everything was off.

For the large variety of unique and beloved characters the Russo Brothers had at their disposal, I felt like some characters were given all the spotlight while others (like Steve and Nat) were left backstage. Add to that the ridiculous melee that took place in Wakanda that was in complete opposition to that country’s entire infrastructure, I was unimpressed.

Some time has caused me to view a few aspects of the movie more gently.

No, there is no excuse for that ridiculous melee. Sorry, Mr. Russos’, there is no excuse. The most basic military strategy available is to NOT pile all of your warriors and resources in one big mass and yell “charge” at the enemy!

infinity war melee

I don’t care if you have a Force Field or people with powers. It was a gross misuse of your resources and insulted my intelligence. You made it even worse by placing the world’s greatest soldier, Captain America, and the King of the World’s most advanced technological and military nation, T’Challa, at the head as leaders.

king and captain

That was an insult. I don’t care if you thought it looked glorious, especially Thor’s stunning entrance, it was insanity and we all knew it. Here’s another article that shares some (not all) of my sentiments regarding this film.

But, there is nothing I can do about that now. The mess has been made. People are gone (PETER PARKER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!). I have read a few articles since then that have given me a bit more perspective.

I now know that showcasing characters like the Guardians, Tony Stark, Dr. Strange, and Bruce Banner was a conscious choice.

They are reactive characters and when something happens, they react immediately. Characters like Steve, Nat, Falcon, etc tend to dig in and deal with the problem at hand, saving their reactions and or breakdowns for after the fact.

Therefore, as was shown by the trailer above, and confirmed by an article I read, we will actually be getting more of The First Avenger and The World’s Greatest Spy, Steve and Nat, in Avengers: Endgame.

It’s been theorized and practically confirmed that time travel will be the solution to defeating the Mad Titan and getting half of the universe back. Actors have been spotted in their Battle of New York costumes from the original Avengers movie, which leads us to the conclusion that we are going to be blasting to the past to save the future.

Natasha: This is gonna work, Steve.

Steve: I know it is, cause I don’t know what I’m gonna do if it doesn’t.

These dramatic and beautiful lines come right on the heels of a quick scene where we are shown Steve looking at his old compass from the 1940s, the one containing a cutout picture of Peggy Carter, his first love.

Mixing this highly emotional moment with the idea of time travel obviously leads many fans to this question: after he saves the world (again) will Steve choose to return back to his original time and be with his first love for a lifetime? Will we actually get to have that dance?

My answer?

No.

And…yes.

the nomad

First, on a practical note, both Steve Rogers and Peggy Carter have been major power players, forces of good in world history. To misplace them, to change their destinies would be to rearrange the Marvel Universe as we know it.

Peggy Carter’s story was continued in the brilliant series Agent Carter that was ended far too soon. Oh, yeah, Dear Disney, if you are looking for another pet show that needs a renewal on your streaming service, LOOK NO FURTHER THAN THE QUEEN OF MARVEL HERSELF! It’s ridiculous that this show hasn’t been renewed already.

Peggy Carter

In the short 2 seasons that the show was allowed, we saw just what a huge impact Agent Margaret (Peggy) Carter was going to have on the world. She runs circles around literally everyone else. She’s faster, stronger, smarter, and has the best lipstick in the business.

Peggy would go on to fight Hydra as well as forces from other worlds her entire life. She created SHIELD. She was vital to keeping the world as stable and safe as it was by the time Steve awoke from his chilly beauty sleep. In Agents of Shield, Season 2 during Hydra’s big “coming out party” (contemporary to The Winter Soldier) it was revealed by high-level Hydra baddies that the one reason they hadn’t revealed themselves sooner is that they had to wait for Peggy Carter to retire.

They knew she’d kick their face in. So let that sink in, folks. Peggy Carter singlehandedly kept Hydra at bay for 70 bloomin’ years.

It is obvious that Steve Rogers will forever be a part of Peggy’s heart. Even as we watch her learn to let him go and move on with someone equally special and wonderful, we know that Steve lives on in her legacy.

The bond between Steve and Peggy is still deeply obvious in that beautiful and gut-wrenching scene in The Winter Soldier. Steve’s grief at Peggy’s funeral speaks of the still deep connection that is never going to end. We know how special these two were to each other, and how special they remain to us.

Sad Steve

I don’t need to tell you all how different the world would be if Steve stayed in the past. We’ve seen that play out before our eyes.

My point is this…it just doesn’t work to change the timeline. I am an avid Flash fan, believe me, peeps, I know what I am talking about.

steves smile

Point 2, Steve Rogers is not the same man he was in the 1940s.

The story of Steve Rogers is one of triumph and tragedy. The thought of being ripped away from your entire world and everyone you hold dear is horrifying, to some, a fate worse than death.

But of all things, we know that Steve Rogers is not a quitter.

i can do this all day

So he didn’t quit. He jumped back into the fight and kept going.

Steve has had a busy arc. He started out as the knight-with-shining-shield of his day, Captain America: The First Avenger. Next, he was a man out of time who tried really hard, Avengers. Steve integrated himself with the world following that event, Captain America: The Winter Soldier. He made some friends and kept fighting the good fight. But something wasn’t sitting right. He was told it was his problem, he needed to get with the program. Good thing Captain America is actually terrible at following bad orders because he ended up being right.

After that Steve wasn’t going to apologize for what he believed to be right. He also showcases a rather frightening belief that fighting is kind of his destiny. Avengers: Age of Ultron. There is no world for him outside of this never-ending battle. No picket fence, no wife, no mini Steves running around. It’s a natural place for his character to go. He’s tired.

Next up, Captain America: Civil War. Steve chooses what he feels in his gut to be right, and he chooses the person who needs him most over being the status quo Captain America. He drops the shield and goes to discover who he is outside of Captain America.

Tony Stark to Peter Parker : If you’re nothing without the suit then you shouldn’t have it.

The above statement is a good one for any hero. Having seen Steve from his slim beginnings, clearly, we all knew that Steve Rogers is more than just a suit. But I think Steve needed to remind himself of that.

Avengers: Infinity War. We didn’t get much of Steve, but we saw was quite clear. He is not apologizing anymore. He’s going to take care of this world whether we like it or not. #hot And he’s still a really, really nice guy. He looks a bit tired, and yet, there is burning energy that wasn’t there before. Perhaps he hasn’t accepted the fact that his future is decided yet? It’s like he’s freshly alive, freshly awake…

Future.

Steve is not the same man he was in the 1940s. I believe he loved Peggy Carter with all of his being, but that is a past dream. It just a beautiful memory now. He still has the same noble heart, but he’s tread different soil. He’s got family here. He’s made a mark on the world, and he may actually want to stick around to appreciate it.

cap endgame

I do think we may finally get our dance scene. It has been teased before and we have walked away disappointed. Despite the fact that Steve needs to move on, it would be appropriate to have one dance with his best girl. I believe Nat (whether she is just a friend, or more) would fully approve. Heck, she’d help him fix his tie and take photos for him on the dance floor!

nat and steve endgame

Life is not about trying to recreate every perfect and beautiful moment from the past. Our good memories are to be treasured, but life is about living in the here and now. It’s making the most of this moment that you are currently living.

If whatever “this” is actually works, and Steve makes it out (there are substantial rumors that he may not actually be leaving for good), Steve Rogers has a future here. 

Characters have to keep moving forward or they become stale. Steve is moving forward, and if he has a future in this world, it’s going to be here and now with either Sharon or Nat (please be Nat, PLEASE BE NAT).

Welcome home, Captain Rogers.

steven and nat endgame

 

Netflix: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

A story doesn’t have to be complicated to be profound.

The best ingredients for a deep, rich story are these: real people, honesty, love, healing, and an understanding of the purpose and potential of stories in general.

Netflix’s The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society combines all of the above to create a warm and beautiful story full of truth and healing.

……….

Based on a book of the same title, the movie stars Lily James as Juliet Ashton, a lovely young British writer in post-WWII England. She’s beautiful, talented, sought after by a wealthy American, and enjoying the beginning fruits of a long future as a successful author.

And she’s lost.

juliet lost 2

It’s England, 1946. The war is over. People are breathing again. Repairing and painting their homes. Dancing. Starting businesses and families. The war is over…outwardly anyway.

But Juliet still feels the choking dust of the London Blitz. Of the millions dead or missing. Of the years of lack. Of her own trauma and loneliness that she has bottled up inside.

“Do you ever feel like we’ve emerged from a long black tunnel into a carnival?” Juliet Ashton

Juliet is reeling from the experiences of the past years, including losing her parents. She feels overwhelmed with the new joy as she is still holding too much sadness and torment to have room for anything else. She feels guilty for this feeling, which only adds to her sense of being displaced…until…

juliet ashton

Enter, Dawsey Adams, writing from the island of Guernsey, a tiny British island located in the English Channel between England and France. An island that experienced German occupation and all the horrors that accompanied it during the war.

dawsey

Dawsey Adams, a gentle farmer, writes Juliet with a very simple request. He asks her for a book. He came across an old book that previously belonged to her, the information he discovered when he found her name and former address in the front of the book. This letter begins a fascinating correspondence in which Dawsey tells Juliet about The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, a book club society begun by a few Guernsey residents in order to cover up a roast pig from the Germans.

Intrigued? So is Juliet. So intrigued in fact that after corresponding for a time, she makes the journey to Guernsey herself to meet this group of people and hear their full story.

……….

I am not a fan of many of the works Netflix has put out. While I applaud series like Lost in SpaceLost and Found, Dragons: Race to the Edge, Greenhouse Academy, there is still so much garbage that Netflix has created. Trashy comedies that mock beautiful people and things, action movies that could be intriguing except…86 f-bombs, really, Netflix? That’s enough to make a sailor blush!

13 Reasons Why has caused damage to the world. The Michelle Wolf special was a fiasco for everyone concerned. Anne With An E lacks understanding and proper respect for the purpose and classic story of Anne of Green Gables.

Netflix is not my hero by any stretch of the imagination. But I loved The Guernsey Literary Potato Peel Pie Society. 

It’s masterful storytelling. You glide back and forth between the present and the past, discovering the true story of the Society as Juliet does. It’s a mystery unveiled only a piece at a time, but you are always dying to know more. As Juliet discovers this story and these people, she begins to unravel the deep well of grief and feeling in her own heart, and she begins to heal.

For years Juliet has been creating this well inside of herself. It’s dark and deep, so empty and full of echoes. And she can’t seem to reach it, can’t seem to fully comprehend it. She cannot grasp what she wants, or what she needs. She cannot enter into rest. She cannot find a place to call home. She cannot dream about her future, all she can do is react.

The members of the Society have grieved as well. They are still grieving, but you recognize a marked difference in their grief versus the grief of those around them, including Juliet. And I’ll tell you what this difference is.

They are not grieving alone, but rather they are sharing the hurt as it comes and celebrating and creating joy even in the midst of it.

There is a life to the members of the Society that draws Juliet in like the tide. She’s been alone for so long, but no longer. As soon as she begins to know these people, she begins to unravel everything inside of her. She begins to laugh, truly laugh. She can see the world. She has a fire burning inside of her. She cries, she cries so much. She hurts, she hurts so much. But at least she is feeling something. And so, the healing begins. Why? Because she is no longer hurting alone.

What brought all of these people together? A story. A made-up story to cover up an innocent get-together that is criminalized by a cruel world. And that made-up story turned into a deeper story. It intertwined several people’s lives as they began to share in a love for stories, and it gave them a place to belong. People to stand with. Shoulders to help bear their burdens. Hearts to laugh with. And a future to share. And they became a story so deep, so compelling, they drew in yet another soul (Juliet) out of the cold and gave her a place to begin the healing.

This story shows people as people like us. People who are hurting from pain and grief no human beings should ever have to bear. The things they have seen and had done to them are WRONG, and you feel the wrongness of it clearly, you cry out with the characters at all they have endured. It also shows the purpose and joy of stories, their power to heal and to connect. It shows how simply sharing your life with people can bring so much joy in the midst of suffering. It shows people giving each other grace despite their flaws. It shows people who see beyond the outer shell to the heart within. It shows what true love can build and the redemption it carries.

And this story gives us permission to grieve over the things that have hurt us. And it gives us permission to let that happen in as much time as we need. And it beckons us to find a people, a tribe to share our griefs and our joys with.

Real stories flow, they are not in separate boxes or segments. One part is deeply connected to another. Grief and joy can be but a word or sentence apart. Healing happens in the midst of the feeling. And sharing your story with others can make all the difference.

potato peel pie

That is what Juliet Ashton discovers. And as Juliet discovers it, so do we.

……….

My friends, I don’t understand everything in this world, but these are the few things I know for sure.

God is real, more real than I ever imagined. He is good, better than any of us have ever comprehended. Tragedy and grief are all around us in this fallen world, and it breaks my heart just as it breaks God’s. God is love, and love conquers all.

Joy and grief are not mutually exclusive. Healing takes time. We are in each other’s lives for a reason. And none of us was made to be alone, but rather to share life together.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society touched me like a warm summer breeze drifting off of the sea. And as I saw this movie, I got to heal a tiny bit because I felt understood.

Friend, your story matters. You matter. And I want you to share your story with the world. I want you to allow yourself to feel, the grief and the joy.

Perhaps in the midst of it you will even decide that you should have a roast pig and begin a book club.

literary society