Be-Engaging: The film “UP”

Last night we had a film and discussion evening for International students. We watched the film UP and then prompted some discussion with various questions. This was inspired by Peter Dray who has done this before at his Uni’s and it worked well. The great thing about film and discussion is that the film speaks for itself and we just need to make the connecting dots. The great things about story is that they reflect the biblical story, sometimes really well and sometimes they reflect the reality of how far removed we are from a loving relationship with the Father. Either way, there is a thread of the biblical story – either with love, hope, faithfulness, death, hurt, pain… it all runs through and links together and only in Christ is it all restored to where it should be.

Now UP is a children’s animation which may put some people off. However there are some fantastic themes that we were able to pick out and expand on. Each character has their hope in something, they have a dream they want to fulfill – whether that is getting your house on the right side of paradise falls or getting the last badge for scouts or getting a giant bird to prove everyone wrong. Everyone has a dream or goal they are going for. However not all the dreams are fulfilled or at least not in the way they hoped. It’s interesting to see what drives people in their ambitions and how much do you sacrifice in order to fulfill that dream. I guess you may ask – “Is it worth it?” Are they pinning their hope on the right thing?

Well two of them give up their dream in order to help the bird go back to her baby birds. The boy was quick to give up his badge to save the birds life, yet the old man took longer to give up the house or indeed Ellie to see that he needed to let go in order to save the bird (and also the boy!). Yet the Pilot doesn’t give up on his dream and in fact wants to capture the bird and as a result ends up with him losing everything.

Perhaps we could link it to the biblical story and say that we must give up everything and “Carry our cross”. Our ambitions and dreams must be given up to follow Jesus. Yet I am not convinced, that just places the work on our laps. I actually think it was Jesus that gave up everything in order to win us back –

“who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.”(Philippians 2:6-7 ESV)

The great story here is that Jesus didn’t give up his badge nor his house, but he gave up everything including his life for us. And the result? As he is raise from the dead he brings us into relationship with the Father. As the boy and the old man gave up everything to save the bird, they soon formed a wonderful relationship, each one taking the place of someone they lost (a wife and a father).

This is a story about sacrifice and loyalty and most of all love. When you have love you can give up the greatest things in order to win people or save people. Isn’t that what Christ has done for us? Of course this is just one angle of the story, there are many more themes in UP, so please do comment on what you think some of those themes are.

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