Browsing Category: disney lessons

Lessons Learned from Disney’s Tarzan

Tarzan was the first movie I bought myself with my own money. I remember it well. I had (I think) $20 and Mom took me to Toys R Us. I bought Tarzan and a Popsicle.. I thought Tarzan was an amazing movie with beautiful animation and fun action–tree surfing. I also like the soundtrack because as a preteen, I had a little crush on Phil Collins’s music. But, I also owned the Tarzan video game and loved to watch Tarzan the Animated Series on Disney Channel.

When I watch it as an adult, some of the themes, especially of family, stick out more strongly to me. Well, a few weeks ago, Justin and I were babysitting some of our nieces and nephews and they wanted to watch Tarzan. I was rocking Rhys to sleep as we watched the beginning sequence and I started crying. I looked over at Justin, and he was crying, too. We are parents now. It adds a whole new layer to it!
So, I decided to dissect it as both a mom and teacher, because it radiates with both of those roles of mine. 
Two Worlds
In this song, Phil Collins opens with the lines “two worlds, one family.” This is to introduce that there is a human family marooned in Africa and an ape family that the movie will center on. However, on a deeper level, because Disney always goes deeper, it could be talking about different races, ethnicities, or backgrounds. As the song progresses, we see the ape family a bit more–a mom, dad, baby (and extended family), and we see the human family (mom, dad, baby) building a tree house and making the most of their situation. Well, Sabor, the leopard kills the baby ape who has wondered away from his mom. The song then sing, “No words describe a mother’s tears.” As a kid, I understood how terrible it must have been for Kala, the mother ape, to lose her baby, but I never knew the depth of that despair. I still don’t, thank God for that, but, I do know several friends who have already, in their early twenties, lost a child, either as a miscarriage or stillborn. I feel so bad for them to have to go through that pain. I can’t imagine having to bury my own child. But then, it says, “The dream is gone, but where there’s hope.” Kala heard Tarzan crying and went to find him. But, Phil Collins is really saying, “mothers, don’t give up.” I have a friend who was told that her second child probably wouldn’t survive long after birth. He didn’t. She was devastated, yes. But went on living. And hoping. And now, less than a year later, she is pregnant again. Scared to death, yes, but so excited at the opportunity of that new life. When Kala gets Tarzan, sees that his parents are dead (killed by Sabor), and brings him home, that is like adoption. But, not every parent or family member is as convinced that they can love an adopted child the same. Kerchak, Kala’s mate and leader of the family, says, “He can’t replace the one we lost” and “He’ll never be one of us” many times throughout the movie.
You’ll Be In My Heart
I’ve always loved this Disney lullabye as a kid and was determined to use it to soothe my babies (and I have a few times when I get tired of singing Ar Hyd Y Nos). But now, as an actual mom, I love it even more. The chorus says, “You’ll be in my heart, from this day on, now and forever more.” Children will be in their parents heart no matter what age they are. I’m 24 and have my own baby, but my mom still calls me her baby. Phil Collins did an extended version for the credit song that was also played on the radio for a few years. One of the stanzas says, “Why can’t they understand the way we feel? They just don’t trust what they can’t explain. I know you’re different, but deep inside us, we’re not that different at all.” This, again, can relate to the foster/adoption system. Not everyone will be convinced that adopting, or caring for a child from a different culture, ethnicity, religion, race will be successful, but that’s all outside and it doesn’t matter. What’s important is inside. The love and bond formed.
As a child, Tarzan tries to fit in with his ape cousins. This could be like foster/adopted kids, immigrant kids, or just kids who are “different”, trying to fit in with family, groups, or even education. It’s hard and oftentimes, they aren’t accepted. So, they often try ways to fit in that aren’t often of the best judgement. Tarzan tries to get an elephant hair on a dare and ends up causing a stampede that almost kills some baby apes. Kerchak gets mad and again says, “He’ll never be one of us.” Tarzan storms off. Kala goes to comfort him. She tells him that they both have two eyes, two ears, two hands. Tarzan sees their hands are just about the same. Then, Kala has him listen to both their hearts. She’s trying to tell him that they are the same. It’s what matters on the inside, not the outside.
Son of Man
So, Tarzan says, “I’ll make him see. I’ll be the best ape ever.” Tarzan then spends the rest of his childhood (in montage sequence) to become a better ape. He uses his own talents and naturally is able to start fitting in. Again, this can relate to the foster/adoption programs. Or even just overcoming adversity: “There’s no one there to guide you/No one to take your hand/But with faith and understanding/You will journey from boy to man.” Basically, the song is saying to never give up, always try your best, persevere, be determined, and you can overcome adversity. 
It also has one of my favorite quotes ever, “In learning you will teach, and in teaching you will learn.” This has become the motto of my education philosophy. I am here to teach my students, but there are many things they can teach me as well.
Trashin the Camp
Tarzan then meets Jane Porter and saves Jane. While he is, his animal friends are trying to find him and stumble upon the Poter’s campsite. Of course, being animals and having never seen human items, they are curious. Trashin the Camp is really fun to sing because it’s “scat”, but other than that, honestly, it’s pointless and the movie could’ve done just as well without it.
Strangers Like Me
Kerchak, nervous about the humans (Jane Porter, Professor Porter, and the “protection” of Clayton), tells his family to stay away from them. But, Tarzan then says, “Why are you threatened by anything different than you?” Which is a good point and could be mentioned to those parents who family members that aren’t accepting of adopted or married family that is different. Tarzan, curious about the species that is like him, disobeys Kerchak and keeps returning to the camp to learn more. On the surface, this song is about Tarzan learning English and about English society (human society). However, under the surface, this song could apply to learning anything new: academics, skills, languages, cultures, etc. But, for Tarzan, it also applies to feelings and emotions. Yes, he loves his mother, Kala, and his ape family, but he’s never felt attraction. He’s starting to fall in love with Jane and doesn’t understand it. 
At the end of the song, the Porters and Clayton ask Tarzan to show them where the apes are. He refuses because he loves his family and wants to protect them. This shows that the family you grew up with, the family you love and loves you, is more important than any other similarities you have with any other groups.
Tarzan also sees a picture of  man proposing to a woman and realizes that that can apply to him and Jane.
Tarzan returns to camp the next day to ask Jane to stay with him, and sees that the boat has come back to take them to England. Clayton is able to influence Tarzan with his feelings of Jane into showing them where the apes are. Kerchak finds out and is furious. Tarzan feels terrible he put his family (and new friends) in danger. Kala feels bad and shows him where she originally found him. This is like telling an adopted kid about his biological parents. She then let’s Tarzan chose to either stay with the apes or go with Jane to England. Tarzan decides to go with Jane, but tells Kala, “You’ll always be my mother.” Although Kala only adopted Tarzan, she cared for him, loved him, protected him, raised him, and would do anything for him. That is what a true mother is, regardless if she is biological or not.
However, it was all a trap and Clayton tries to capture all the apes. Tarzan, Tantor, Terk, and the Porters, along with other jungle animals, rescue the apes. Clayton and Tarzan then have their “battle.” Clayton is about to kill Tarzan, but he’s able to swipe the gun. Clayton than dares Tarzan, “Come on, be a man. Shoot.” Tarzan breaks the gun and says, “Not a man like you.” Tarzan is saying that you don’t have to be super muscular or masculine or violent to be a man. No. You only need to stick up for your beliefs and protect what is important. *Spoiler alert*: in his rage and trying to now stab Tarzan with his machete, he accidentally hangs himself on vines.
Two Worlds Reprise
In the resolution, Jane and Professor Porter decide to stay. Jane speaks “ape” that Tarzan teaches her: Jane stay with Tarzan. The fact that she speaks their language represents a culture adopting and accepting another culture to make a new, unique, individual and personal culture. The finale says: “Put your faith in what you most believe in/ Two worlds, one family/ Trust your heart/ Let fate decide/ To guide these lives we see/ Put your faith in what you most believe in/ Two worlds, one family.”
Moral of the story: Do what you believe is right and have faith in that. And even if you are different, you can still be family. And finally, FAMILY IS IMPORTANT!
Check out other Disney movie lessons here!
Which other Disney movies would you like me to do?


Tayler is a work at home mom. She does free lance articles and dabbles in graphic design and virtual assisting for bloggers. She spent 3 years as a history and English teacher. Her passions are her husband, two children, history, reading, nature, and her Savior, Jesus Christ.

Lessons to Learn from Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame

As a child, the Hunchback of Notre Dame was one of my favorite movies: it had gypsies, a strong female character, magic, a knight in shining armor, and plenty of adventure.

Then, as I grew, I fell in love with the sound track. Very intense and very beautiful. The medieval chants they do, the Mozart-ish Catholic Requiems, my goodness! What spirit (passion and religious) was enveloped in the music of this movie. The lyrics as well…especially God Help the Outcasts. The one year I was ever in choir (ever) was my sophomore year of high school. One of the units we did was on Catholic mass as well as Mozart’s Requiem. I began recognizing words from the Hunchback and began looking up Latin translations for the whole songs.

I am now 23. I still own the original VHS my parents bought for me when the movie first came out in the mid 90’s. I am a medieval historian. I am been to Great Britain (yes, I know Notre Dame is in Paris, France).  I’ve seen medieval cathedral architecture with my own two eyes! I have studied medieval religion and politics and how they were entwined–you couldn’t have one without the other. Now, knowing all the ins and outs of the social and religious thought processes of Paris in the early 15th century (the time in which the movie is set–during the Crusades), I love the movie even more.

I love the movie, and appreciate the comic relief the gargoyles bring (although I think the movie could have done well enough without the trio of gargoyles and Djalli the goat). But, the songs and music are so deep. Let me share a bit with you.

The Bells of Notre Dame
This is the first song, as well as the back story that will start the movie off. It introduces the character of Frollo. Now Frollo is a judge in Paris. He has a lot of power because of that, and is expected to judge politically, but keeping the standards of the church in mind. Like any other politician, religious figure in history who believes they are the only balance of light and truth and the beacon to which all others should fly to for salvation, this goes to their mind. Sometimes they tend to have a twisted view of righteousness and justice. Frollo mistakes baby (hunchback) Quasimodo for stolen goods and kills his mother for that. In medieval times, it was the belief that if you are disfigured, then either your spirit, or your parents have sinned in some way. Or you are a child of the devil. That is why Frollo wants to drown baby Quasimodo. The archdeacon stops him, saying Frollo has spilled innocent blood. He says, “You can lie to yourself and your minions. You can claim you haven’t a qualm. But you never can run from nor hide what you’ve done from the eyes, the very eyes of Notre Dame.” The artists of this movie spent weeks in Paris, studying the architecture of Notre Dame to correctly implement them. Gargoyles and Saints were decorative to Cathedrals to protect it, to teach, and to keep an eye on the villagers. So, the archdeacon was right: the Heavens will know what Frollo has done. The last line in this song asks, “What makes a monster and what makes a men?” That is the main theme of this movie.
Out There
Frollo has raised Quasimodo for 20 years under his twisted view of the world. He has led Quasimodo to believe he is a monster and that Frollo is the only one who would ever love or protect him. Because of this mental abuse, Frollo is able to keep control over Quasimodo. However, Quasi only wants to be able to spend a day out in the real world. Because of his deformities and disabilities, he is more self-aware of what gifts people have…how wonderful it would be to be like everyone else. “Everyday they shout and scold and go about their lives, heedless of the gift it is to be them. If I was in their skin, I’d treasure every instant.” Quasi know it is a gift to be alive. This movie teaches us not to take our health for granted. Be thankful we are who we are and we are alive.
Topsy Turvey
Now, the lyrics in song aren’t very influential…it is a made up holiday that gypsies supposedly celebrate and that public officials (like Frollo) have to attend. But, it’s what you see. Before the song, Frollo has just hired Pheobus to be his captain of the guard. Pheobus has come back from the Crusades (that is why his armor has a cross on it). The Crusades were “holy wars” sanctioned by the Pope to reclaim the Holy Land (Jerusalem) from the Muslims. Pheobus has that “holy war” mindset but questions why Frollo wants to get rid of gypsies. Frollo despises them because they live “outside the common order,” and tempt others to do so as well…that is not what the Church wants. During the song, you see how the gypsies are having a free-for-all in just celebrating life. While Esmeralda dances, there is a Romanian sounding music. That is because gypsies are the Roma…they actually are Aryan Indians who migrated after an invasion in India. We also see the first interaction between Esmeralda and Frollo…during her sensual dance. Now that sensual mindset will stay with him, tempting him out of his very strict, black-and-white view of the world.
God Help the Outcasts
Oh my gosh! Powerful lyrics! Powerful meaning! No matter what type of Christian you are, this applies to everyone. Faith restored in humanity! Just listen to the song and feel the lesson it teaches you…I’d only take from the spirit this song protrudes.
(Just as a side note: Esmeralda is trapped within the Cathedral of Notre Dame. But, Frollo can’t arrest her while in there because of “sanctuary.” Cathedrals, missions, etc. where places of sanctuary. Places were monks and priests could worship, share the Gospel, and serve with loving charity. Thus, Esmeralda, while in Notre Dame, is under the protection of the church, and thusly, the Pope, and thusly, God. Frollo can’t go against that.)
Heaven’s Light/Evensong/Hell Fire
Quasi has helped Esmeralda escape and she thanks him. They are very close now, and Quasi is starting to have feelings for her. He says that couples, those who love each other, have a glow like heaven’s light on them. He was too afraid to even hope that he could have that, but because of how Esmeralda has treated him, he now has Heaven’s Light. 
Then, it goes to the archdeacon and priests singing an evensong. The Latin translates to this: “I confess to God  almighty. To blessed Mary, ever Virgin. To the blessed archangel Michael. To the holy apostles and the saints.”
Then, it goes to Frollo. He is wrestling with his carnal desire for Esmeralda now (over the heads of little kids, but adults can see this deeper, darker plot) and his position as a “holy” judge. He prays to Mary, who is a Virgin, so she, as a Saint, holds power and privilege over that. The medieval church put her on a pedestal  so it is ok that Frollo is conversing with her. He feels he is now being judged by the heavens for his carnal desire. So, he bargains: Esmeralda will be his or she will burn at stake for her temptations and use of “witchcraft.” By being his, he can save her soul with the authority he has, and he would get what he wants. One of my favorite lines in this song is when Frollo asks, “It’s not my fault, if in God’s plan, he made the Devil so much stronger than the man.” That was a common believe during that time. People feared the Devil just as much as they feared the wrath of God. In my church, we do not believe that. We believe Satan as already lost and he knows it. We can have power over the Devil, by resisting temptation and keeping our eyes on the Savior, the Devil can not have power over us.
A Guy Like You
Frollo has gone overboard: burning Paris trying to find Esmeralda. Quasi is worried about her. Every Disney movie has to have the stereotypical best-friend-involved-in-your-love-life song. And since the movie is set in Paris, it has to have Paris stereotypical love song happenings as well. It’s a very cheesy song. But, it does talk about how, even if you are different, people will still love you.
Court of Miracles

Frollo realizes that Quasi has helped Esmeralda escape, so he devises a plan to entrap Quasi, Pheobus, and Esmeralda. Quasi and Pheobus use a secret map to help them find the Court of Miracles (the hiding spot of the Gypsies). They are ambushed by the gypsies who want to immediately hang them because the Gypsies are “rather like hornets protecting their hive.” Again, kind of another cheesy song, but shows the fear the Gypsies live under. Anyone who finds out where they live, have to be killed so those who want to kill the Gypsies won’t find their way. At the last minute, Pheobus and Quasi are saved by Esmeralda.
Sanctuary

Frollo followed them and now has captured the gypsies, especially Esmeralda. He chains Quasi up in the bell  tower and holds a public burning. He gives Esmeralda one more chance to recount her evil ways and become his or burn. She spits in his face. He is going to burn her on account of using “witchcraft” and says, “The gypsy Esmeralda has refused to recant. This evil witch has put the soul of every citizen in Paris in danger.” Quasi is about to give up, but when he sees Frollo lighting the pier on fire, he gains the strength to break the chains. He grabs a rope and swings down to Esmeralda, grabs her, climbs back up Notre Dame and raises her (she is now unconscious due to asphyxiation) and yells, “Sanctuary! Sanctuary! Sanctuary!”
This is a very touching, passionate song, all in Latin. It is all about God saving those who need to be saved as well as righteous judgement. The translation is as follows:
Judex crederis esse venturus (Our Judge we believe shall come)
In te, Domine, speravi (In You, Lord, have I trusted)
Non confundar in aeternum (Let me not be damned for eternity)
Salvum fac populum tuum (Save Your people)
Judex crederis (In our Judge we believe)
Libera me Domine (Free me, Lord)
Libera me Domine de morte aeterna (Free me, Lord, from everlasting death)
In die illa tremenda (On that terrible day)
Quando caeli movendi sunt (When the heavens shall be moved)
Caeli et terra (The heavens and earth)
Dum veneris judicare (When Though shall come to judge the world)
O, salutaris hostia (Oh Saviour, saving victim)
Quae caeli pandis ostium (Who opens the gate of heaven)
Bella premunt hostilia (Our enemies besiege us) 
Da robur, fer auxilium (Give us strength, bring us aid)
Sit sempiterna gloria (May you always be praised)
Sit sempiterna gloria (May you always be praised)
Sit sempiterna gloria (May you always be praised)
Gloria, gloria semper (Glory, glory forever)
Sanctus, sanctus in excelsis (Holy, holy, in the highest)
Mors stupebit et natura (Death and nature shall be confounded)
Cum resurget creatura (When creation shall rise again)
Judicanti responsurra (To answer for judgment)
Judex ergo cum sedebit (Therefore, when the Judge will take his seat)
Nil inultum remanebit (Nothing shall remain unpunished)
Quem patronum rogaturus (To what protector shall I appeal)
Cum vix justus sit securus? (When scarcely the just man shall be secure?)
Juste Judex ultionis (Righteous Judge of vengeance)
Ante diem rationis (Before the day of reckogning)
Kyrie Eleison (Lord have mercy)
And He Shall Smite the Wicked
Frollo follows them up to get rid of both Quasi and Esmeralda once and for all. Looking at the scenery, you can see symbolism: “hell fire” at the bottom of Notre Dame, gargoyle demons, etc. Frollo, as he is about to strike the killing blow to Quasi, quotes, “And He shall smite the wicked and plunge them into the fiery pit!” Remember, Frollo still has his twisted mindset that he is a righteous, holy, just judge and is doing God’s duty. But, the irony now falls on him, as it seems like Notre Dame is going to take her vengeance from the beginning of the movie. The gargoyle he is standing on seems to come alive, which causes Frollo to stumble, and it breaks off, plunging him into the fiery pit below.
The movie ends with Pheobus and Esmeralda falling in love and Quasimodo being accepted and loved by Paris. Besides Pheobus and Esmeralda, the first person to accept him is a little child. She bravely walks past all the frightened onlookers, stares into his face, and touches him. When she realizes Quasi is really just like anyone else, she hugs him and leads him to the crowd. It is just like Christ tells us, to be like a little child. The innocence of children is actually in reality, their wisdom. 
I have also been reading a book called, The Secret History of the World by Mark Booth. It is trying to make one truth out of all the esoteric and religious views of history. And now watching this movie again, there is a ton of esoteric stuff in it! But, the jump that Disney was willing to make, to include religious ideals and a song that speaks directly to God! No way they would do that anymore, but I think they should. They did such an amazing job. The animation was awesome, the music was beautiful, it was funny. But more than that, it taught a large moral lesson and the lyrics were very powerful. And that is why The Hunchback of Notre Dame is one of my favorite movies ever!

Tayler is a work at home mom. She does free lance articles and dabbles in graphic design and virtual assisting for bloggers. She spent 3 years as a history and English teacher. Her passions are her husband, two children, history, reading, nature, and her Savior, Jesus Christ.

I am a Disney Princess Amalgamation

I confess: I am a Disney fanatic.

For some reason, Disney does an amazing job of explaining life. I don’t know if it is due to the big Disney princess eyes, or the super catchy songs, but I seem to be able to relate to every single female character, every single adventure.

Justin has recently told me that I remind him of 3 different Disney characters:

Belle from Beauty and the Beast

I want adventure in the great, wide somewhere

First of all, I a redhead/brunette. Second of all, I absolutely love to read! A couple years ago, I posted that I want to go here. Also, if you look at my Pinterest Future Home board, a lot of the pins have bookshelves and reading nooks and secret bookshelf passageways.

Secondly, like this quote says, I want adventure. I’ve been able to go to Wales for about a month and a half on study abroad. I’ve been on 2 short cruises to tourist cities in Mexico. I’ve camping in numerous National Parks. I love it. I love traveling. I love seeing new places. Something in me is always wanting to fly off to a new country, a new language, a new culture, a new world.

Tiana from Princess and the Frog

I have dreams, and I am working so very hard to reach them. I’ve always wanted to teach, and now I am finishing up the last 3 months of my teaching internship. As a college student, I took 16 credits and worked about 25 hours a week while maintaining a 3.78 GPA. I really had to take into consideration which social activities to go to and which parties to skip so I could study. Even as a married woman, I am still working very hard creating lesson plans, compiling a teaching portfolio, up-keeping the house, etc. I love this song because I feel the exact same way:

Jane from Tarzan
Justin says that I am like Jane because I’m very inquisitive. That is true. If I was a cat, curiosity  would have killed me a long time ago. I can’t stand surprises. 
Secondly, obsession over work. Jane wanted so badly to see the gorillas. Then she met Tarzan and worked so hard to teach him English and all about mankind. I’m a little like that too. Once I get in the groove, I can work for hours on end. I’m also a little (ok, a lot) obsessed with history and Wales.
Thirdly, he says because of my kind heart. I love my husband.
So, confession of sorts: I’m a Disney princess and I don’t care who knows it! =)

Our Fairy Tale

Tayler is a work at home mom. She does free lance articles and dabbles in graphic design and virtual assisting for bloggers. She spent 3 years as a history and English teacher. Her passions are her husband, two children, history, reading, nature, and her Savior, Jesus Christ.