This week’s #FaithFilmFriday written by Insight team member MaoHui Deng looks at five animations across the world that deal with faith.
#FaithFilmFriday: film 1
Director: Marjane Satrapi
Based on Marjane Satrapi’s autobiographical graphic novel, Persepolis follows the story of a young girl as she grows up in Iran against the backdrop of the Iranian Revolution. The protagonist, Marjane, takes us through her life as she grows up in Iran in the 1970s and 1980s before going to Vienna to study.
The film takes us beautifully through the history of Iran – of how the Shah of Iran was overthrown by the Islamic Revolution in 1979 – and of how Iran gradually turned more religious through the political reign. It also tells the story of a cultural clash between the protagonist and the Catholic nuns who housed her in Vienna.
One of the most beautiful scenes happens when Marjane dreams of God and Karl Marx together encouraging her to live her life to the fullest. I mean, how much better can that get?
#FaithFilmFriday: film 2
Director: Isao Takahata
I have already written about this film in a full-length post elsewhere but I thought this animated feature would be a perfect addition to this #FaithFilmFriday list.
This is meant to be Isao Takahata’s final film (but, then again, the filmmakers of Studio Ghibli keep making last films) and – if it is – it is a beautiful swansong ode to childhood and parenthood.
The bamboo cutter discovers a baby girl whilst chopping a bamboo shoot one day and decides to raise her up like a princess. Throughout the film, we see clashes over different cultures, classes and attitudes towards life, all underscored by the recurring song from the moon and the desire to be returned to nature.
It is beautifully animated and beautifully sentimental for all the right reasons.
#FaithFilmFriday: film 3
Director: Tomm Moore
This is an Irish animation about a family who live off the coast of Ireland.
This Ireland is filled with stories from the ancient time – of Mac Lir the Giant, of the beautiful white Selkie, and of the Seanchaí.
It sees the world through the eyes of two children, and paints Ireland as vibrantly occupied with faeries and Gods.
The message at the heart of the film is that it is alright to be sad, very much like the message of Inside Out (see our #IFFReview for the film). And why not? It’s absolutely fine to be sad.
#FaithFilmFriday: film 4
Director: Brenda Chapman, Simon Wells and Steve Hickner
This animation retells the epic Biblical story of Moses, as he went from the prince of Egypt to the splitter of the red sea.
It is also a musical with brilliant music – the songs were written by Stephen Schwartz of Pocahontas (1995) and The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996) fame, and Hans Zimmer of The Lion King (1994) and Inception (2010) fame.
It is not just good because the film is a great way to get a child to understand the Biblical story, but the film also portrays an Egypt that is actually not white (though the voice cast was still primarily white) – unlike Exodus: Gods and Kings, a counterpart film based on the same scriptures!
#FaithFilmFriday: film 5
Director: Wolfgang Reitherman
The final Disney film released before Walt Disney’s death, The Sword in the Stone is based on T H White’s version of the Arthurian legend, which explores Arthur’s boyhood, learning from his mentor, Merlin, right through to the moment he proves his right to be the ‘once and future king’. The Arthurian myth has also, incidentally, inspired a lot of John Boorman’s work.
Arthur discovers the sword in the stone that nobody can pull out, extracts it, and becomes the King of England.
Need I say more about the film? Other than the fact that it is jolly good fun? There is no need to do so.
Product links: 5 animated films about faith (UK only)
Film: Isao Takahata, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (2013), DVD issue 2015, Chloë Grace Moretz, James Caan, Mary Steenburgen
Film: Akira Miki and Hidekazu Sato, Isao Takahata and his Tale of the Princess Kaguya (2015), DVD issue 2015, Isao Takahata documentary
Film: Tomm Moore, Song of the Sea (2014), DVD issue 2015, David Rawle, Brendan Gleeson, Lisa Hannigan
Film: Brenda Chapman, Simon Wells and Steve Hickner, The Prince of Egypt (1998), DVD issue 2006, Val Kilmer, Ralph Fiennes, Michelle Pfeiffer
Film: Michael Gabriel and Eric Goldberg, Pocahontas (1995), DVD issue 2009, Mel Gibson, Linda Hunt, Christian Bale
Film: Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise, The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996), DVD issue 2002, Demi Moore, Jason Alexander, Tom Hulce
Book: Victor Hugo, Notre-Dame de Paris (1831), paperback 1978, Penguin Classics
Film: Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff, The Lion King (1994), DVDThe Lion Kin issue 2014, Matthew Broderick, Jeremy Irons, James Earl Jones
Film: Christopher Nolan, Inception (2010), DVD issue 2010, Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page
Film: Ridley Scott, Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014), DVD issue 2015, Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton, Ben Kingsley
Film: Wolfgang Reitherman, The Sword in the Stone (1963), DVD issue 2008, Rickie Sorensen, Sebastian Cabot, Karl Swenson
Book: T H White, The Sword in the Stone (1938), paperback 2008, HarperCollins Essential Modern Classics