Although it took me some time to figure out what was going on and what Dreamworks’ handsome, over-long film was trying to say, it became apparent about halfway through that I could easily make connections between the imaginative narrative and Christian beliefs. Seeing “Guardians” bears out the saying “You get out of a film what you bring to it” because you make meaning according to your own lens.
The story opens with Jack Frost (the voice of Chris Pine) telling us how he came to be the spirit of winter, but that he doesn’t know why; he doesn’t have memories about what came before. He does know he makes children happy when he creates snow days for them.
The narrative picks up three days before Easter at the North Pole, and Santa Claus (Alec Baldwin with a suspicious Russian accent), or “North,” as his friends call him, is upset because Pitch Black, otherwise known as the Boogeyman (Jude Law), is threatening the children of the world with fear-inducing “night mares” (literally, dark horses). North calls the Guardians of Childhood: the Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher), the Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman) and the voiceless Sandman. North learns from the also-voiceless Man in the Moon that he is to add a new Guardian to the group: Jack Frost. However, Jack is sad because children don’t believe in him, and he decides not to join the Guardians, though later decides to help the group because of Pitch’s threat.
Pitch Black is angry that children don’t like or believe in him. He is fast at work because he wants to turn off the lights of children’s hope and imagination. His minions raid the tooth fairies’ lair and collect the containers that hold the teeth and memories of all the children, then imprison the fairies. The Guardians shift into gear and take over teeth collection themselves. They promise Jack to find his baby teeth and memories, too.Discouraged after a thwarted Easter egg hunt, Jack goes to Antarctica, where Pitch tries to tempt Jack to give up hope. Jack refuses, and Pitch threatens to smother a baby tooth fairy unless Jack gives up his trusty staff. Jack does, and he and the fairy try to stay warm in an ice crevasse. The little one discovers Jack’s tooth and memory container. Jack learns he became the winter spirit because of a great act of heroism. With his power restored, he joins the Guardians to defeat Pitch and his message of fear.
“The Rise of the Guardians” is an adaptation of William Joyce’s “The Guardians of Childhood.” This is not a religious film, though it is framed by Christmas and Easter. Although its references are those fairy-type stories adults tell children to explain parts of life that may be too mature for them (or to get kids to be good), the film mirrors the Christian story and spirituality. I found at least three reasons for catechists and people of faith to like and appreciate “The Rise of the Guardians.”
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