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

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

…I looked at him, and I saw myself.

I know this is what Hiccup felt when he saw Toothless, but it’s an apt description for how I felt as well. I looked at Hiccup, and I saw myself.

15-16 years old, same age as Hiccup, I was at the beginning of a pretty horrible 5-6 years. I was sitting on my bed checking out this movie, How To Train Your Dragon, that everyone seemed so excited about. If I liked it, I’d show my family.

And I saw him. I saw a boy, an adorable boy. A boy who felt out of place in his world that only valued things he was not able to achieve. He didn’t know who to be, how to be. He was lost.

baby hiccup

But I also saw what lay beneath the surface, hidden below the aching loneliness and insecurity. A deep gentleness, his art speaks of that. A thinker, a planner, an inventer. And a friend.

The key to why How to Train Your Dragon is so special is not because there are dragons. Not because of the animation (which is breathtaking). Not because of the voice cast. Not even because of the amazing music. Music that I have listened to over and over again, sometimes during the hardest or emptiest moments of my life because it gave me hope and courage.

No, the key to How To Train Your Dragon is relationship.

That is the sole foundation, the common thread, the stone upon which the story is built.

Fierce Toothless

How to Train Your Dragon is the story of a remarkable friendship that not only shapes two remarkable individuals but also changes the course of the world’s history.

I felt like I was drinking from the fountain of youth during the scene where Hiccup and Toothless first bond. The colors, the movement, the soul! The connection of two characters who find not only belonging with one another but healing as well. It was so beautiful it made my heart thirst.

I was in tears when Toothless and Hiccup flew for the first time. Yes, of course, the music is triumphant, but they are free. So free. Out there in that wild wind and ever-changing and alive sky. That moment captured things in my heart that had been burning for as long as I could remember.

At that time in my life, like Hiccup, I wanted to run away. I felt trapped by my circumstances, by the strife in my family, by my own body as crushing anxiety caused terrifying symptoms to exhibit themselves. School became this heavy burden that I felt inadequate to bear. I wanted to leave, to find purpose and adventure somewhere else!

That was 6 years ago. In the time in between, somewhat like Hiccup, I have lost a parent through a divorce and the climax of decades of pain. I’ve had my world turned on its ear countless times. I’ve had to grow from child to woman under some very difficult circumstances.

And yet…I’ve learned to soar.

Flying Toothless

I always wanted to be free. As a child and teenager, I used to have these dreams where I found a stretch of rolling green hills. I knew that those hills ran on and on and on, into the wide open space of the West, into mountains and big skies. In the dreams, I would take off running into that world, nothing but me and miles of freedom. I could leave my problems behind me.

Running away. It would have been easy for Hiccup to jump onto Toothless’ back and take off into the sunset, never to return. He could have become a dragon-person like his mother, living apart from the human world. It was too hard to bring change, too hard to go against the grain. Too hard.

Hiccup does consider running away, but he is halted by the future love of his life, Astrid (a love story that deserves more attention on another day). Astrid has a way of calling the man out of Hiccup when no one else can. Not just the Man, the Chief.

hiccstrid

For that is who Hiccup is meant to be, he is meant to be a chief. A king, a leader, a pillar of strength for his people. This is who he is destined to be. Who people need him to be. 

Valka (Hiccup’s mother) had a very similar heart to her son, but she lacked his courage and determination. She lacked his hope. Valka never chose to return to her family and village, thus robbing them of the life and change she could have brought.

I had/have people who needed me to. I too have a destiny. And that destiny does not come in the solitude of those rolling green hills of my dreams. Hiccup finds freedom right where he is at, and because he stays and steps into the responsibility of who he was made to be…

he changes the world forever.

hiccup haddock III

I did too. I stayed. It felt like death sometimes, but I stayed. No, I hadn’t actually been planning on hopping on a plane to run away, but I was toying with the idea of running away in my heart. Checking out. Leaving it all behind to set off on a “grand adventure”.

Oh, what I would have missed. I might have missed changing the world forever. 

I’m free now. I have found the freedom I was looking for in the Heart of My King, My Abba Father. This thirst for the wild, alive skies? The rolling green hills? The adventures? He put those things inside of me, and now I know I do not have to run away to find them, I just have to run to Him.

I also found myself, in Him, in His freedom, in my relationship with Jesus and the relationships I built, I found me.

I’m a lot like Hiccup. I’m a peacemaker, a strategist, a warrior, an artist, a thinker, a friend…and a leader who thrives on connection.

Hiccup is the kind of leader that I aspire to be. He does not lead out of a desire for control, he leads to make a difference. People are drawn to Hiccup because he lifts them up, he brings fresh ideas and purpose to the table, and he draws the best out of everyone around him. Hiccup is a redeemer, he gives second chances and forgiveness willingly.

hiccup a warrior

We get to observe this type of leadership more so in Dragons: Race to the Edge the series on Netflix that takes place between HTTYD 1 and HTTYD 2. If you have not watched this series, I highly recommend it. It’s in this series that we watch Hiccup go from being a boy to becoming a man. A king!

You have the heart of a chief, and the soul of a dragon.

His mother is right. Hiccup is a noble leader with a fierce and gentle heart. It’s a long and often painful road that leads him to become who he was meant to be. I can relate to that. If I had known what my life held for me I don’t know if I would have gotten in line. 😉

But I’m here now. I’m me. And I wouldn’t have gotten this far if it hadn’t been for the relationships and connections that upheld me to this point…just like Hiccup and Toothless.

Hiccup and Toothless were two broken people who needed each other to fly. The strength of their friendship as they walked through those hard years together is what enables both of them to walk their own respective paths when the time comes.

God is everything to me. He’s the air I breathe, the dreams I have, the plans I make, the colors I love, the gifts I carry, the bright future I walk into. My mom and siblings have stuck by me through thick and thin, and we have held each other up in the dark of night and the light of day. I have a wonderful group of friends who I have laughed and cried with over the years. My circle is ever expanding, my ability to influence for truth and love is ever-growing.

I love my life. I love my story, even the ugly parts. Because the person I was destined to be is beautiful and I am going to change this world.

Taming Toothless

Hiccup and Toothless began their story together as youths, but they part ways as kings.

I feel as if I have grown up with Hiccup. I have been inspired and encouraged by this oh-so-human character and his oh-so-human best friend and the story of them facing life together. Like Hiccup and Toothless, I began this story as a youth, I am parting from this story as a queen.

However, unlike Hiccup and Toothless, my story is just beginning.

My relationship and connection with this story, with these characters has changed me. I am so sad to be saying goodbye, but I am so grateful for the journey. How To Train Your Dragon was and still is a powerful influence for good in my life.

One last battle. One last journey. A friendship to last a lifetime. See you at the movies.

hiccup and toothless, kings

Appealing to The Senses: The Hundred-Foot Journey

Most movies appeal to our senses of sight and sound. I can see the story playing out, and I can hear the music, sound effects, and dialogue.

However, not many movies have the ability to drawn in more than those two senses. It is a rare gift to find a movie that appeals to multiple senses and makes you feel as if you are fully engaged on both a soul and sense level.

The Hundred Foot-Journey

If you have never seen this delicious movie, might I kindly urge you to drop everything and watch it immediately. It is one of the best, richest films I have ever seen and I am about to tell you why.

The Hundred Foot-Journey follows the Kadam family who leave India for France looking for a better life. They find a charming village to settle in and open up their Indian restaurant. Their location? Exactly one-hundred feet across the road from Madame Mallory’s Michelin-starred eatery. What follows is a story about memories, love, people, and food.

Now, I can hear your question. This movie is still just a movie right? It can’t produce smell, literal food, or hand you something out of the screen to touch. So how can I say that this movie appealed to more than my sight and sound senses?

The Hundred-Foot Journey is a movie about people that uses food as the medium to communicate the heart of story and messages. The brilliance here is that food is a common denominator that everyone on planet earth understands and connects with. Food reaches us physically and emotionally. We touch it, see it, smell it, hear it, and above all, taste it.

100fj food

Have you ever seen a peach and had a flashback to a fun summer afternoon spent in the orchard? Does the smell of cinnamon make you feel like it’s Thanksgiving? When you hold a muffin do you remember your grandma? Has your mouth ever watered at the sound of someone crunching down on hot, buttery toast? When you bite into a cheeseburger, do you suddenly feel like you are on vacation again?

The Hundred-Foot Journey triggers the memories of our own personal experiences with physical things such as food in order to draw us into a story on a sensory level.

In the beginning of The Hundred Foot-Journey, we see Mrs. Kaddam teaching her son Hassan how to cook. But it’s not the typical one cup of water, 2 teaspoons of salt, stir for thirty seconds that you might imagine. Instead, Mrs. Kaddam is teaching Hassan about the soul of food.

“Food is memories.” 

She pours a ladle-full of her stew into her son’s palm where he slowly drinks it, savoring and experiencing each flavor and feeling of the dish. Mrs. Kaddam infuses so much meaning and life experience into her food that whenever Hassan eats or cooks something, he understands the story and memory behind the food.

Throughout this entire movie, the characters are deeply involved with their food. They touch it, experience the color, savor the flavor, and recognize the memories or feelings that the food arouses. No character does this more than Hassan. You taste, smell, hear, touch, and see through his eyes more than anyone else’s. You are connected on both a soul and sensory level with his experiences regarding food.

100fj hassan cooking

At one point in the film, Hassan begins to lose himself in the process and precision of making food rather than the memories and emotions of it. It changes his entire persona and perspective. He is lost and miserable, and he cannot figure out why. The movie begins to lose its flavor as we lose our connection to the food and the heart of the story. We become distant and disconnect, just like Hassan is. We can no longer taste anything.

100fj no memories

When he reaches a very low point, he is given the opportunity to eat some homemade Indian food. The moment he bites into it his entire countenance changes and tears come into his eyes. He tastes home, himself, and his mama. He tastes who he is in his heart, the person that he had forgotten about for time has returned. At that same moment, the color and flavor return to the story for us. Our connection point is restored and we are once more engaged on a sensory level.

There are so many characters in this movie who take turns being right and wrong. There is brokenness and humanity. There is beauty and tragedy. There is life, laughter, and dancing. There are happy and sad tears.

100fj french food

The Hundred-Foot Journey is a movie about life and people; and it uses the universal language of food to connect to our senses and draw us into the story in a deep, connected way.

100fj cover

I cannot recommend this movie enough. It is excellent both in content and form. You watch this movie and drink in every detail. It is so layered and well-done that you take in some things consciously, and others at a sub-conscious level.

The Hundred-Foot Journey is a satisfying movie on every level. When you reach the credits you will feel full in body, mind, and spirit. It is a veritable feast for your soul and senses.

 

25 of My Favorite Movie Lines

It is the 25th post on reellifebygrace today! I thought I would have some fun with this number and keep it simple by sharing 25 of my favorite movie lines. These are in no particular order and are merely here to make you smile.

1.”It’s like America, but south!” (Ellie, Up)

I am a big South America fangirl. I understand the deep wonder and excitement that Ellie and Carl have for that mysterious continent. Not to mention, this scene is just the cutest thing ever.

2. “I love you.” “I know.” (Han Solo/Leia, The Empire Strikes Back)

Han and Leia’s romance is one of the top movie romances in the world. I love, LOVE their interaction. This scene is so iconic to Star Wars fans for so many reasons. My favorite bit of trivia about this scene is that Harrison Ford came up with his classic I know response on the spot, and a legendary line was born.

To top this amazing line off, the roles are later reversed in Return of the Jedi when Han says “I love you” to Leia. She gets a twinkle in her eye as she replies “I know.” What a great tie-in between the two movies.

3. “Uh, mebbe I shoulda hooked him up to Bessie, an then took the boot off.” (Mater, Cars)

A classic “DUH” moment that is made totally adorable by Mater. He takes Lightening McQueen’s handcuff “boot” off before he hooked McQueen up to Bessie, the enormous asphalt machine.  My dad always laughs at this part, so it is a fond moment for me.

4. “My mother was a caterpillar, my father was a worm, but I’m okay with that now.” (Khalil, Veggie Tales: Jonah)

If you have never seen Khalil the caterpillar, look up some clips on Youtube. He is utterly hilarious and a top-quote character for Veggie Tales fans.

5. “I am expressing multiple attitudes simultaneously. To which are you referring?” (Spock, Star Trek: Into the Darkness)

SPOCK SASS! I love Spock.

6. “I think I heard a whoosh.” (Emmet, The LEGO Movie)

Emmet is totally adorable, and this line cracks me up. I can just see Chris Pratt saying this himself. I’d be willing to bet Chris Pratt really is Emmet in so many ways. I feel like if we went inside of Chris Pratt’s mind we would find a double-decker couch in there somewhere.

There are a million hilarious and quotable lines from this movie, I had to just grab one off the cuff.

7. “You hesitated.” (Olaf, Frozen)

Again, so many quotable lines to choose from in Frozen, but this one always cracks me up because of the timing. Anna’s hair is turning white and it’s freaking Kristoff out. Her cute little feminine query, “Does it look bad?” is something so many gals can identify with. Poor Kristoff waits a half second longer than he should to reply, and his fate is sealed. So many males identify with this.

Haha, Olaf isn’t buying it.

8. “I’m just a kid from Brooklyn….I can do this all day.” (Steve Rogers, Captain America: The First Avenger)

I make no secret about my love for this guy. I really feel like these two lines (they are really a part of the same thought) entirely sum up this extraordinary guy.

It’s even better because of all of the follow-up times when Steve uses his signature lines. He never gives up. It’s the Steve Roger’s version of just keep swimming. 

How do you compete with that?

9. “Obviously. Yes, I am. I’m with the Resistance, yeah, *whispers* I am with the Resistance.” (Finn, The Force Awakens)

This kid is so stinkin’ adorable. I fell in love with him on like Line 3. He was so unlike any of the previous Star Wars main heroes. He was so not confident he felt so normal and human. His instant crush on Rey is all the cuter as he seeks to impress her with his “Resistance” status.

Aren’t they adorable?

10. “What do you still have it for?!? I can’t believe you had THAT in your purse!” (Rocket Raccoon, Guardians of the Galaxy)

Obviously I just picked out one gem among that treasure trove of quotable lines that is Guardians of the Galaxy. This one however, cracks me up even when I’m not watching the movie.

The orb just blew up and the Guardians are all in shock. Rocket’s line is hilarious enough, but it’s made even more hilarious by the fact that he and Peter Quill start having the purse vs. knapsack argument right then and there.

11. “Dishonor on you, dishonor on your cow!” (Mushu, Mulan)

Using this line as a comeback will either end the argument with your opponent defeated, or you will make a new best Disney friend.

12. “Great, where are we going?” (Pippin, The Fellowship of the Ring)

I’m going for more comical than deep today. Pippin is a great moment of comedic relief in the epic but exhausting saga that is Lord of the Rings. This line is so hilarious in that you-have-no-idea-kid kind of way. It’s even funnier because this stupid line totally breaks up the solemn and dramatic gravity of Elrond’s “you shall be the Fellowship of the Ring” statement.

What an adorable idiot!

13. “And Daddy! He stole my boot!” (Jane, Tarzan)

Jane is a highly underrated Disney lady. She’s charming, adorable, and says the cutest things. She has the most rambling way of getting to the point. It’s even cuter how her round and squishy little professor Daddy follows her bizarre thoughts easily.

This line is when Jane returns from  having met “the wild man” Tarzan. She’s babbling away about this strange creature, only to stop in the middle of her ramble to talk about the theft of her boot. I do this sometimes, so this line always cracks me up. I can’t find this particular line, but here’s a cute scene that will give you a great example of her adorable dialogue.

14. “These mashed potatoes are SO creamy!” (Midge, While You Were Sleeping)

I cheated by using this line to introduce one whole scene full of hilarious lines. Lucy is eating dinner with Peter’s family and about 3 different conversations are happening at once. She and Jack never say a word but smile at each other through the chaos. It’s a hilarious scene, one that I completely understand because I grew up in a large family. I promise you, this is completely realistic.

This movie is priceless!

15. “Whaaaaattt???” (Minion, Despicable Me)

This gif works for EVERYTHING.

16. “You should know, that this is the strangest thing I’ve ever done!” (Flynn Rider, Tangled)

Flynn Rider broke so many rules for Disney guys, I think that’s why he is so beloved. This scene is hilarious.

17. “I shall call him Squishy, and he shall be mine, and he shall be my Squishy.” (Dory, Finding Nemo)

This is everyone literally every time they see something adorable.

18. “School mascot by day, but by night….I am also a school mascot.” (Fred, Big Hero 6)

He’s so hilarious!

19. “I’ve never put on pantyhose, but it sounds dangerous.” (Joseph, The Princess Diaries)

Fellas, you just have no idea the truth of this statement. I laugh really hard at this line because pantyhose are HORRIBLE! They itch, they pull, they rip, they slip, and you have no guarantees about the length of your life when you start putting them on. They are DANGEROUS!

20. “Thank you for nothing, you useless reptile.” (Hiccup, How to Train Your Dragon)

Hiccup Haddock is one of the greatest things animation has ever brought the world. I flat-out adore this guy. His dry and sarcastic sense of humor is one of the best aspects of this character.

21. “I was with the Navy, not the Navajo.” (Owen, Jurassic World)

There’s a reason Chris Pratt keeps sneaking in here. He’s amazing. I love Owen’s face when Claire looks expectantly at him after asking him to track down her nephews. He gives her this look repeatedly throughout the movie.

22. “Well done, you just decapitated your grandfather.” (Loki, Thor: The Dark World)

Loki gets the best lines.

23. “The word I’m searching for, I can’t say because there’s preschool toys present.” (Woody, Toy Story)

This is a great way to express your emotions in a situation without getting profane.

24. “So yeah, I blew myself up.” (Mark, The Martian)

Mark’s running dialogue for this movie was utterly amazing. He had a great sense of humor that kept things from getting too heavy. Amazing!

25. “If I see one, I shall inform you immediately.” (Jack Sparrow, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl)

This is one of my favorite little interchanges throughout this funny movie.

And there you have it! 25 great movie lines from some wonderful movies. This was actually far more complicated than I had anticipated. Good thing I chose to do this post for my 25th instead of my 100th. Merry movie-watching to you all!

 

Keeping the Voice Authentic: Spirit

Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron is a movie about a wild stallion who finds himself taken into captivity by humans. Spirit’s primary objective in the film is to regain his freedom and return home to his wild herd.

It’s a magnificent movie on so many levels. The story is beautiful and unique. The characters are deeply engaging. The music grabs your soul and will not let go. Spirit is a character that stirs the deepest parts of you and makes you want to stand up and fight. This was one of my favorite childhood films for all of these reasons.

But looking at this film as an adult, I can now appreciate it at a whole new level. Watching it again, I noticed something that I had instinctively felt as a child, but could never put into words.

Spirit is a movie about a horse, told with the voice of a horse.

In every story there is a primary voice that is telling the tale. This voice can take on many forms, and it can come from any character; but it is this voice that filters every single detail in any story. It is this voice that will lead you-the viewer- in knowing how to think and how to feel. This voice determines the message of the story. Without a clear voice, a story will feel limp and useless because it lacks direction and a strong foundation.

Spirit did so many things right on every level of cinematic storytelling. Why? Because the voice in Spirit was authentic and spoken through every single detail of the movie. Here are some specific examples of how the voice in Spirit was made authentic.

Body Language

Horses communicate via body language. Ears forward=alert. Ears laid back flat= aggressive, etc. Snorts, whinnies, stamping; all of these communicate different thoughts, emotions, and instincts being expressed.

Spirit was a movie where a horse was the primary character. We saw the world through Spirit’s eyes; in order to put ourselves into his hooves we had to understand communication the way he did.

Spirit made use of every body movement and sound that horses make. We clearly understand what all of the horse characters were thinking and feeling even though very few of us naturally speak “horse”. Not a single horse character ever spoke words, thank goodness, or this whole movie would have felt cheesy and stupid. No, in order to live and breath this story we didn’t need the horses to speak our language, we needed to be able to understand theirs.

Narration Via Spirit’s Inner Dialogue

Even though so much was communicated through the horses’ body language, we still needed some sort of narration to happen in order to bring us through the story. Given that Spirit himself is the one telling his story, it would make sense for him to do the narrating.

They could have done this where Spirit chimed in with a comment every few seconds, or told us the story from start to finish while we merely watched the motions. Both ways would have made this movie less than it was.

The way the filmmakers chose was incredibly brilliant. Our narration was Spirit’s inner dialogue, his thoughts so to speak. His impression of a situation, his instinctive reactions to things, etc. This put us inside of Spirit’s head and heart in a way that no other narration could have done.

These thoughts had to be clear enough for us to follow them, but it was vital that they stay as true as possible to the authentic “horse” voice. The writers did this in multiple ways.

  • Spirit never uses proper nouns. The one time he uses a specific name for someone is when he is referencing the term the soldiers use for his Indian friend, Little Creek. Instead of using specific terms, Spirit uses vague generalities. They, he, him, her, she, I. We always know of whom he is speaking, but he never calls them by name, that is reserved for the human characters of this story. While horses do understand commands and recognize differences in people and other animals, I don’t imagine that they think of those people by name. It’s more about how those people smell, sound, and feel. It’s more about visceral things than intellectual categorizing. Spirit takes in his world in a vaguer way, trying to understand it, but he doesn’t intellectualize it.
  • Spirit doesn’t narrate all of the time. There are very long sequences when all of his communication happens with his actions; again, he is speaking as a real horse would. This puts us into the mind of an animal instead of a human mind. Human minds have a constant running dialogue. Spirit’s mind is more instinctive, and physical. He doesn’t have five million little details running amok in his brain. His one driving force and thought for most of this movie is to regain his freedom.
  • Spirit’s thoughts are never connected to his mouth. If this were a movie with a “talking horse” it would have been utterly cheesy and failed in delivering authenticity. Yes, we do know what Spirit is thinking, but it is almost as if his mind is a separate entity from his body. We are in the first-person perspective of this horse. We feel what he feels, we want what he wants, we struggle when he struggles. And we do it the way he does it, as a horse. Yes, a horse with heightened emotions and soul, but still a horse.

Sound

The sounds of this movie are very gritty and earthy. I mentioned above how much of the story is told through the horses’ body language. That body language makes a lot of noise. Stamping, chomping, snorting, running with hooves on the ground, whinnies, nickers, shrieks, we hear it all as if we were there experiencing it firsthand.

The sounds of this movie are very natural, after all, it’s a horse’s world we are entering. The sounds of the military fort feel unnatural. The marching of iron-shod hoof beats in formation feel strange compared to the more random fall of hooves for a wild herd of horses. There are whips cracking, the shouting out of military drills, and bugles. And then when Spirit is tied to the post for three days there is an eerie and still the silence in the night.

The wind whooshes, the water roars, the eagle shrieks high up in the mountain air. The bison snort, a mountain lion roars. The thunder of pounding hooves raises your heartbeat. You are a part of this story, body and soul. You hear it as if it were happening around you, your heart becomes connected to this land, this place on a sensory level, exactly how Spirit feels.

I hear the wind, call my name

The sound that leads me home again

It sparks up the fire- a flame that still burns

To you, I will always return….

….You run like the river-you shine like the sun

You fly like an eagle

You are the one

I’ve seen every sunset

And with all that I’ve learned

Oh, it’s to you, I will always return

Music

Bryan Adams and Hans Zimmer delivered on this movie. The music reaches that wild part of your soul and pulls you into Spirit’s soul. The music is also an excellent part of the narration, almost as if Spirit’s soul had created a soundtrack that put words and melodies to the deepest instincts of his heart.

 

The Setting Is A Part of Spirit’s Character

Spirit is a wild horse that lives in the vast West. The landscape is as much a part of who he is as his organs. He is the wind, the sky, the grasses, the rolling hills. He is the eagle that flies free. He does fly at the end of the movie when he makes his fantastic leap for freedom.

Spirit is the fierce and rushing water, and the gentle warmth of the afternoon sunshine. He’s the cold snow, the fire, he’s all of it. This is his world that he interacts with on a very personal level. It reflects him and this journey that he is on.

Humans rarely interact with an outdoor setting like this, but this is a wild horse’s world. We needed to understand and interact with that world as Spirit did in order to understand him. We needed to love and depend upon this wild place the same way he does. This world is in his blood, and by the end of the movie, it’s in ours as well.

*****

I have not come across another movie quite like this one. It is unique and authentic. This movie made in impression on my soul like few others have. I used to ache for wide open spaces and dream in my sleep about running across hills and mountains. I understand Spirit’s desires so well because they were like some of my own. When I watched this film, I fully entered into Spirit’s character. I became him for a time.

That is the power of an authentic voice. You can communicate so well with your audience that they feel they have become a part of your story/character/world. This is powerful way to connect and communicate.

If you are a storyteller, find the voice that will communicate your message the clearest. Use that voice to filter every aspect of your story, doing so will bind your story together tightly and deliver a powerful impact.

If you are a viewer, look for the voice in the stories you love to watch. Seek out the voices that have spoken the most deeply to you and dig deeper. You will be amazed at what you learn about yourself.

I am so thrilled that I was able to share this post with you. This is a subject and movie dear to my heart. I hope this post can touch you as well.

You too have a voice, how are you using it to tell your story?

 

 

7 Movies That Defined My Childhood

Wonderful movies and childhood go hand in hand. There is a sense of wonder and awe we experience as children that finds a fertile ground in movies. This is why so many people who now spend most of their time watching PG-13 and above movies still have a soft spot for their favorite childhood films. Seeing those familiar films is like revisiting an old friend and reliving a taste of that wonder from childhood.

I have loved movies my entire life. Even as a baby, my mother could sit me down in front of a TV screen and I would be transfixed. I was raised on stories and have grown up appreciating them.

Today, I thought I would take a little trip down memory lane and share the movies that defined my childhood. I have chosen these movies as the ones that not only awed and inspired me, but also helped to shape some part of who I am today. That is the power of a good movie, a fake (or historical) reality and set of characters can touch and shape our real lives in the real world.

Now, onto the movies!

7. Fievel Goes West

Fievel Goes West

I loved a good Western tale growing up! My siblings and I played Old West exclusively for a certain phase in our life. I was also utterly fascinated by pioneers. The idea of brave souls forging into an untamed world to carve out a new life was so romantic. Of course, I was too young to grasp the harsh realities and sorrows, all I saw was the glamour.

Fievel Goes West had just the right amount of boisterous adventure and shoot-em-up fun that a girl fascinated by the Old West needed. I loved Fievel’s thirst for adventure and fearlessness against much larger foes. I craved those things for myself, and I loved watching this little mouse live them out. I found this “tail” more exciting than it’s predecessor An American Tailanother good film, but not nearly as much fun.

6. The Swiss Family Robinson

The Swiss Family Robinson

For a time, this was the only movie that my family owned. You can imagine my delight when watching this film full of adventure, danger, and colorful creativity. One of the books I learned to read on was Robinson Crusoe, so I already had an appreciation for survival stories.

The Swiss Family Robinson took the idea of a “survival” story to a bouncier, more Disneyfied level. These people didn’t just survive, they thrived! They built a beautiful home in the trees for them and their menagerie of exotic animals. Even when faced with the impending danger of pirates, their spirits never lagged and they stepped up to the plate.

So many scenes from this movie are imprinted deeply in my mind. The tree house reveal is one of my favorites, that place was purely magical. Perhaps that is why I now dream of getting to stay in a tree house. I loved the scene with the boys swimming in the waterhole and sliding down the waterfall. Can you say dreamy? Or the Christmas dance when Ernst and Fritz’s jealousy over Roberta comes to a high point. The race day when everyone is on the back of exotic animals and wearing handmade hats? Love, LOVE it!

But the best scene by far is when the family is fending off the pirates. Coconut bombs, giant piles of rolling logs, a tiger pit, and trails of gunpowder! MacGyver woulda been proud. The ingenuity of this family knew no bounds.

I could probably quote this movie fairly accurately all the way through. That would be because my older brother and I watched it every weekend until Mom made us stop.

I have since seen another version of this story that is a very realistic and deep take on the concept. Strandedit’s more emotionally difficult, but also very rewarding. I highly recommend it. Still, Disney’s live-action Swiss Family Robinson will always have a place in my personal movie hall of fame.

5. Roy Rogers and the Bells of San Angelo

RR Bells of San Angelo

The Bells of San Angelo was my first Western film, and my first Roy Rogers film. I watched it at my great-grandmother’s farmhouse. I love this movie for the memories it holds, but also because of the door it opened for me. When I was about ten my family got a collection of Roy Rogers movies and our movie world was forever changed.

Roy Rogers is practically a member of my family. I have seen so many of his movies, I could tell you titles, lines, costars, and sing some of the songs. Roy Rogers was handsome, charming, brave, could sing like a bird, and had the coolest horse on screen.

But even more than that, his heart was bigger than his fame. My family got to know about this incredible man, his wife Dale Evans, and their family when we visited the Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Museum before it closed. We learned about the personal side of these famous celebrities. They were real people who loved each other and their children (they lost 3) deeply. Their heart for children was beautiful, they were heroes onscreen and off.

We even had the joy of meeting Roy Roger’s son, Roy Roger’s “Dusty” Jr. My mama often says that when she gets to heaven, one of the first people she is going to meet is Roy Rogers.

4. Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron

Spirit Stallion OTC

 

There is so much to be said about this incredible movie. It is one of Dreamworks finest and completely unique. A story of the Old West, about a horse, as told by a horse. You see this movie through Spirit’s eyes and his mind. It’s absolutely mesmerizing on every level.

Spirit touched a very wild part of my soul and brought a lump to my throat. There is a deep, spiritual level of life that is driven home into the fabric of your soul. Spirit displays passion, perseverance, the choice to fight and never give up,  and the struggle to remain unbroken in a very earthy way.  I don’t have the time to describe everything I feel or think about this movie right now, but I assure you, this movie WILL be revisited on this site, you have my word.

I watched this movie over and over and over again. I watched it recently again as an adult and it still took my breath away and sent chills down my spine.

3. Air Bud: Seventh Inning Fetch

Air Bud

I saw Air Bud: Seventh Inning Fetch first. Yeah, yeah, I know it’s out of order, but it’s still my favorite one. I have always adored dogs, but dogs who can wear clothes and do things like people, or even better than people? Oh my goodness!

These movies posses a very special place in my heart. I fell in love with this beautiful dog who regularly saved the Little League team while helping his people through their own difficulties. I may have also had a little crush on Kevin Zegers (Josh), but that was secondary.

I used to spend hours daydreaming about having a sweet dog named “Buddy” who was my best friend. It would be so cool, we would have lots of fun together and he would be super smart. This dog wagged his way into my soul and has stayed there. He made many boring or sad moments in my childhood feel brighter.

You can imagine my dismay at the Buddies movies when the puppies were talking! WHAT?!? The coolest thing about Buddy was that he was smart and resourceful as a DOG, he didn’t need to use words to communicate. He communicated with his actions. I have many more little fan-girl feelings to express on this subject, but time grows short.

I still dream of having a golden retriever one day. Can you blame me?

2. The Jungle Book

The Jungle Book

Everyone remembers their first Disney movie. This was mine. No, I didn’t start out on Disney princess movies. In fact, I didn’t see a princess movie until I was 16. Guess what? I survived and I’m actually normal.

The Jungle Book was such a cute story with a cast of unique characters. My favorite was always Bagheera, who got the cold shoulder from Mowgli for being the “stuffy parent”. I always felt bad for Bagheera, he only ever wanted the best for Mowgli and fought to protect this little man-cub. Baloo got all of the fun points, but we all knew it was Bagheera who kept that child alive.

My brother and I watched this many times growing up. We would run around the house singing “The Bare Necessities”. To this day, he and I get excited about watching our old, childhood favorite.

I was utterly delighted with the new, live action remake of this beloved film. The filmmakers took all of the best parts of the movie I grew up with, removed the annoying bits, and then filled out the story. I was utterly delighted with every aspect of that movie, I can’t wait for it to come out on Blueray!

1. The Prince of Egypt

The Prince of Egypt

Now we have arrived to the 1st movie in my life. The movie that has probably done more than any other movie to shape who I am today.

I saw The Prince of Egypt in theaters. It was my first movie ever, and my first movie in theaters. I was 2 years old, and I was completely drawn in.

The colors, the movement, the story, the music, I drank it up like a thirsty little flower. I couldn’t identify or comprehend everything that this movie taught me, rather, I felt it. I knew that I felt something when I saw the treatment of the slaves and I heard their desperate cries in the music. I felt Moses’s agony and the fear of the Egyptians. I felt the struggle of the Plagues. I felt the fear of the Hebrews as they were crowded against the Red Sea with an army of murderous Egyptians at their backs. And I felt the power when the Red Sea parted and God brought His people through.

We owned some of the soundtrack to this movie. My brother and I used to spend hours dancing to it in the living room. My favorite song happened in the Midianite camp “Through Heaven’s Eyes”. I dare you to listen to this song and not dance. It has such a rhythm of life and a heartbeat to it.

I can remember listening to one of the choral pieces one time, a bit of music describing the Hebrew people’s despair and torment. For the first time in my life, I made the connection between music and emotion. I understood that the song was telling me something from the depths of a person’s heart. I was only 3 years old, and that moment still influences me today.

I love Ancient Egyptian history. I love the story of Moses and the rescue of the Hebrew people. I am a storyteller. I find ways to communicate messages and emotions to others. I am learning and hoping to make movies that speak to people the way this movie spoke to me. The older I get, the more things about myself I find I can trace back to what was awakened in my heart and mind when I watched this film.

I have much, much more I could say on this subject. Stories awaken our hearts and imaginations like nothing else, that is why our first stories are so dear to us. Our childhood movies aren’t just cute memories, they are a part of who we were, and who we are today. They touched us in very personal ways and continue to touch us. I have so enjoyed sharing my favorite childhood movies with you and I hope this has brought back some sweet memories in your own heart.

What movies defined your childhood? Why did you like those movies? Do you still enjoy them today? What did those films make you feel? What did they make you believe in?

Join in the discussion today on Facebook and Twitter!