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Lilo and Stitch | Disney Lessons

Justin and I absolutely love Lilo and Stitch. We love singing the Hawaiian songs, and we love the cuteness of the movie. It is one of our favorites!

Lilo and Stitch is about about an evil alien experiment called Experiment 626, created by the evil scientist, Jumba. After being captured, it escaped and crash landed on Hawaii. Jumba and Earth Specialist, Pleakly, are sent to retrieve him. Experiment 626 ends up being adopted by Lilo and Nani from a dog pound. Lilo and Nani are sisters whose parents have recently died. Nani works at a luao restaurant and Lilo is very young and a little different. She doesn’t have friends and Nani is always stressed about taking care of Lilo, especially after getting fired. Social Services comes and threatens to take Lilo away from Nani unless she can find a stable job and train Stitch.

I don’t want to really give any more away in case you haven’t seen it…but here is the trailer

But, there are so many lessons to learn from Lilo and Stitch which is why we love it so much.

Lessons you can learn from Disney's Lilo and Stitch are very important: cultural history, family strength, and trust.

Cultural Heritage is Important

I love that this movie is diverse. It takes place in Hawaii, with a native Hawaiian as its protagonist. But more than that, this movie tries to intentionally add in as much Hawaiian culture as possible. All the songs that aren’t Elvis songs, are in Hawaiian. The first song, He Mele No Lilo talks about the beauty of Hawaii, as well as some of it’s religious history. Lilo participates in hulu class. Lilo and Nani both are Hawaiian names. They use Hawaiian phrases in daily life, such as “lolo”, “mahalo”, and “ohana”. I think it is very important to keep your cultural heritage alive and to learn from it, which is one of the reasons that I am so obsessed with the Welsh culture.



The Significance of Family

The premise of this movie is that Lilo and her older sister, Nani, have recently been orphaned. As is typical, especially in siblings that have a wide age gap between them, Lilo and Nani often fight. Nani has a hard role in trying to be both sister and parent to Lilo, and Lilo sometimes finds that exasperating. The threat of Lilo being taken away by Child Care Services because of Nani being an inadequate care provider constantly looms over them. The fact that their parents are gone also haunts their house. But, throughout the movie, they remind each other of the concept of “ohana”. Ohana means family. Family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten. Their parents had instilled this concept in them. They are to look after each other and protect each other. They are to love and care for each other. Such is the importance of family. As a Mormon, I believe that family is the foundation of society–“whatever wounds and breaks the family, wounds and break the world. Whatever lifts and saves the family, lifts and saves the world.”



Broken Families Can Still Be Strong

Lilo and Nani are orphans constantly at each other’s throats. Child services threatens to take Lilo away. Nani has no time for a love life with David. They have a wild alien “dog” that almost tore the family apart for good. But, it is still a strong family. Stitch helps bring Lilo and Nani back together. Nani will do whatever she can to protect Lilo. David, although he loves Nani, will be patient and willing to help in whatever way he can. I honestly love David. Nani says she has more important things to worry about than to date him (which is 100% true), but when David sees Nani and Lilo having a bad day, he takes them surfing. He cares for Lilo because he loves Nani. Families don’t have to be the perfect dynamic of mother and father and children. Families today come in all shapes and sizes and look vastly different. That doesn’t mean they are dysfunctional or broken. Families that have issues can still be strong.



There is Good in Everyone

Stitch was created as an evil experiment. But, Lilo saw good in him. She was determined to teach him how to be a proper behaving citizen. She never gave up on Stitch, even when Nani threatened to take him back to the pound. And, Lilo’s determination helped turn Stitch from evil experiment to protective, loving member of her family.


Have you ever seen this movie? What do you love about it?

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.

Hercules | Disney Lessons

Another one of my favorite childhood movies was Hercules. As a young kid, I was a little obsessed with Greek mythology and would check out all the books my library had on it. I loved it and spent hours reading about the myths, legends, and genealogies. When I saw Disney’s Hercules for the first time, I immediately knew that it wasn’t accurate…I mean, Hera hated Hercules (it wasn’t her son…just one of Zeus’s “couldn’t keep it in his pants with mortal women” children). But, I loved the movie, especially the songs…I mean, it’s just about every red-head girl’s dream to have the voice of a soulful, passionate, black woman. But, as with all Disney movies, there are lessons to be learned with Hercules, lessons that will stay with you forever.

Disney's Hercules is a perfect movie to teach self-confidence, what makes a true hero, and family love.
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Greek Knowledge/Jokes

First, before I get into any songs, I just want to say how much Greek there is stuffed into this movie! The writers tried their hardest to insert culture, stereotypes, everything into it: “since they put the ‘pit’ in Pita bread”, “wanna buy a sun-dial,” “call IX-I-I,” “I haven’t seen more love in a room since Narcissus discovered himself.” I could go on and on. Every time I watch it, I pick up even more. And one of the little nuances I never realized until I was an adult was the counting issue. In the movie, a lot of times characters will say, “three words” than speak two, etc. Well, that’s because they are listing how many Greek words it would take to say that. For instance, Phil tells Hercules, “Two words: I am retired.” But in Greek, it is Είμαι συνταξιούχος. Two words.

They also do a pretty decent job of the mythology (with a few huge mistakes for creative license). In any Mount Olympus scene, you can very easily name all the Gods and Goddesses drawn according to their obvious characteristics: Dionysus is pink and has a wine glass, Aphrodite has a nice figure and blonde hair, Athena has a warriors helmet and an owl, so on and so forth. They include the Titans, even though have who they are incorrect. They include different heroes, even though they were all in different time periods, some long after Hercules. They include the Fates, the River Styx, and Cerberus for the underworld. They even try to incorporate the different adventures and quests that Hercules went on very subtly! But, again, take it all with a grain of salt!

 Beginning of the Movie // Gospel Truths I, II, and III

In the very beginning scene, the narrator brings forth to light the most poignant theme of the movie, “What is the measure of a true hero?” It kind of resonates with The Hunchback of Notre Dame’s theme, “Who is the monster and who is the man?” However, he is interrupted and the muses, Goddesses of the Arts and Proclaimers of Heroes take over the narration. Well, it is their dominion. And, they are black, soul singers. Awesome! They give the background of Zeus and how he organized the world and stopped the Titans. We then see a party for the baby Hercules. Hades doesn’t like the baby, because he is upset with his position in the Underworld and wants to take over Olympus. This never happens or is mentioned in the real mythology, but God of the Underworld makes for a good villain. After being humiliated again at the party, Hades goes back to the Underworld and meets with Fates to see if Hercules will stand in his plan of a hostile takeover. They reveal to him that Hercules will. So, Hades decides to get rid of Hercules. But, as he asks his minions, “How do you kill a God?” You can’t…you have to make him mortal. So, he sends his minions, Pain and Panic, to kidnap Hercules, give a potion to turn him mortal, and kill him. But, they were interrupted by an old mortal couple, and Hercules never finished the potion. The last drop he didn’t drink allowed him to retain his god-like strength, and he was able to stop Pain and Panic (who had morphed into snakes) as a baby! And, that is one of the legends of Hercules! But in the last Gospel Truth, the muses mention how Zeus and Hera had to watch Hercules grow up from afar because only gods are allowed on Mount Olympus. As a parent, that hit me–how devastated would I feel if I couldn’t raise Rhys myself, but could only watch someone else do it for me?

I Can Go the Distance

Years pass, and Hercules is a scrawny looking, pariah of a teen. But, remember, he is super strong…and that strength is the reason he is a pariah. He always breaks everything and reeks destruction wherever he goes because he can’t control his strength–everyone hates him for it. His adopted father tries to cheer him up, but Hercules says, “Sometimes I feel like I don’t really belong here. Like I’m supposed to be someplace else.” This kind of relates back to Tarzan and the motif of adopted families and different cultures. But this song is more than just that. Hercules believes he has a bigger purpose, somewhere he belongs and something he can do. The first part of the song is more of a hope and a dream. He wants to believe he belongs somewhere else because he doesn’t fit in here. This can have a few Christian overtones: we believe in the Kingdom of our Father in Heaven. He is waiting to receive us with open arms. But, anyone who has ever believed there is something bigger and better for them or that they would fit in better with another group or culture can relate to this song. One line in the song is, “I will go most anywhere to feel like I belong.” How many of us wouldn’t do the same? The feeling of being accepted is common in everyone. We long to be accepted. We long to be like others. We long to feel approved of and validated. So does Hercules, especially because he is different from everyone else.

He returns home and his adopted parents told him that he was found as a baby, with a medallion of the symbol of the Gods around his neck. Hercules then decides to go to the Temple of Zeus to pray to the gods to see if they have answers. Again, some Christian undertones here…we pray to our Father for guidance, to see what His plan for us is. Hercules begins singing again, only this time, he is more determined. He has a plan and has more power in his determination to go most anywhere to feel like he belongs. He can do it and will do it. My college actually had this song be the theme of one of our school years, to support students and let them believe they can do anything as long as they have determination and do their best.

Well, Hercules gets to the Temple of Zeus and starts praying. Then Zeus comes down in the form of the statue and tells Hercules the story of his birth and kidnapping. He then tells Hercules that he can rejoin his family in Olympus if he becomes a true hero. So, he goes off to seek Philoctetes, or Phil, to be trained as a hero.

One Last Hope

Phil is a grouchy old retired hero-trainer. He refuses to be Hercules’s teacher because all the other heroes he trained, Odysseus, Theseus, Perseus, Jason, Achilles all eventually were defeated and died (well, Hercules was a drunken fool tricked by his jealous wife into a wearing a poisoned cloak that tormented him so much, he built a pyre and burned himself to death, but that’s not Disney!). Hercules asks Phil if he ever had a dream that he wanted so badly. Phil said that he wanted to train a hero that was so loved, that the gods would put him in the stars. But, he says, “Dreams are for rookies.” He had been disappointed so much, that he gave up on his dream. Hercules was determined though. Phil didn’t believe. He had no hope. This served as an archetypal warning–you will turn into a grouchy, isolated, cynical person if you give up your dreams and hopes. Finally, after a lightning bolt sent from Zeus, Phil agrees to train Hercules. The entire song is a little cynical–he is giving Hercules his best shot, and claiming he is Phil’s last hope. But, Phil still isn’t convinced. But, as the song (and years) go on, Phil gets a little more confident. It is always nice to have someone, even someone as innocent and naive as Hercules (or Kimmy Schmidt also comes to mind) to help you restore faith in yourself and others.

After training is over, they decide to go to Thebes (compared to New York) to become a hero. On their way, Hercules saves Meg from a Water Guardian (a seductive centaur, which is a throwback to the myths as most centaurs raped women, even Hercules’s wife was almost raped by a centaur). But, what they don’t realize is that Meg is actually working for Hades, who owns her. Hades finds out that Pain and Panic never actually killed baby Hercules and time is running out before his plan to take over Olympus is put into action.

Meanwhile, Hercules and Phil arrive in Thebes and everyone is cynical of Hercules claiming to be a hero. They are sign seekers–they want someone who as already proven themselves to be their hero. Hercules says, “How can I prove I’m a hero if they don’t give me a chance?” How many of us have been burned or denied our dreams because we aren’t given chances? Justin felt that way after he graduated college and couldn’t get a job for a few months because he didn’t have any experience (that’s a rant for another post). He kept saying how if employers would just give him a test-run, a chance, they’d see how much worth Justin is and what he could bring to the company. Well, Hades sets up a trap for Hercules with the hydra, Meg leading him there. The townsfolk follow. But, Hercules defeats the hydra.

Zero to Hero

Just like One Last Hope, this is another montage. It shows how Hercules is slowly becoming a hero of renowned. He defeats different monsters, saves people, is paid for it, and becomes famous. There are a lot of Greek jokes in this song and a lot of allusions to the quests that the real mythical Hercules did. Hades is throwing all of these monsters to try and defeat him. But, the moral of this song is zero to hero. You can be a no-one, but become a some-one. Think about all the rags-to-riches stories we have in history. It can happen. Think of Malala, think of the Slumdog Millionaire, think of George Washington and other famous people. It can happen. You just have to believe!

Well, Hercules visits his dad again wanting to return to Olympus. Zeus tells him that he isn’t a true hero yet, Hercules has to look inside his heart to figure out how to be a true hero. Again, that is an important theme. Becoming successful and lauded is great and all, but it won’t make us the best we can be. We need to be reflective and be the best person we can be. Hercules is upset and needs to de-stress, so Meg takes him on a date, with Hades’s command to find out what Hercules’s weakness is.

I Won’t Say I’m in Love

But, with all Disney movies, there is a love story. Hercules and Meg begin to fall for each other. Before they can enjoy their first kiss, Phil interrupts and drags Hercules away to keep training. Now, Meg had sold her soul to Hades in the first place to save the life of her love. But, he betrayed her by running off with another woman, leaving Meg brokenhearted and in the clutches of Hades. So, she’s already had a lot of bad experience with guys. This song is her inner turmoil of trying to figure out if she actually does like Hercules and what to do about it. I dated/liked/crushed some jerks before I met Justin, so my heart was pretty guarded when we became friends. I’m sure there are many of us girls who have been the same, whether it be disappointing relationships, abusive relationships, no relationships and we didn’t want to be hurt again. It can be so vulnerable to allow yourself to feel love for another.

Meg finally admits that she does care for Hercules. Then, Hades comes asking her what his weakness is and she claims he doesn’t have one, but at the same time, it’s pretty obvious her feelings for him. So, Hades decides to use Meg against Hercules one last time, insinuating that Meg is Hercules’s weakness. And, as we all know with love and movies, especially hero movies, the way to harm the hero or get them to do what you want, is to hurt and/or threaten their loved ones.

Now, Phil had caught wind of this and tried to warn Hercules who got mad at Phil. Phil left. Hades put his plan into action. He appears before Hercules and bargained Meg’s life for his powers. Hercules, of course, agrees, but is brokenhearted when Hades reveals that Meg had worked for him the entire time. He leaves them both crying, frees the Titans, and successfully attacks Mount Olympus while sending a giant cyclops to get rid of Hercules. When Hercules sees, he decides to go against the Cyclops, knowing full well that he doesn’t have the strength to defeat him. He was doing what was right. It was his responsibility to protect the city and he was being a hero. Meg gets Phil to try and help him. Phil tells Hercules that dreaming isn’t for rookies, but “Giving up is for rookies.” Phil gives another lesson: No matter how hard it seems, don’t give up! Hercules is able to slyly defeat the cyclops, but Meg gets crushed by a column trying to save Hercules from being crushed by it. She is dying, but tells Hercules, “People do crazy things when they’re in love.” Hercules knows that Meg loves him and takes that to help him in saving the gods at Olympus. But, Hades escapes and Meg dies. Of course, true love comes into play in this movie. Phil tells Hercules, “There are even somethings the gods can’t change,” talking about Meg’s death. But, mad with love, Hercules says, “Yes, I can.”

A True Hero

Love conquers all. You don’t mess with heroes when you take one of their loved ones. It is pretty archetypal. Many movies shows heroes becoming more powerful with righteous vengeance. True love is willing to sacrifice anything. Hercules is willing to sacrifice his life to save the life of his true love. Just as the Fates are about to cut his life thread, he reaches Meg, proves he is a true hero because of the self-sacrifice, and turns into a God. Hades is defeated, Meg returns to life, and Hercules is brought up to Olympus. Zeus congratulates him saying, “A true hero isn’t measured by the size of his strength, but by the strength of his heart.” Hercules then decides that he’d rather be with Meg than an immortal God. He didn’t believe that an immortal life was better than living one life with his true love, Meg. So he gives up his immortality to live with Meg.

A Star is Born

This is the ending song. Everyone is happy, everyone is saved. It is technically the credit song, and another Gospel-ish song. But, there are a few lyrics that prove these lessons of true love and being a true hero (accomplishing want you want).

Just remember in the darkest hour
Within your heart’s the power
For making you
A hero too
So don’t lose hope when you’re forlorn
Just keep your eyes upon the skies
Ev’ry night a star is
Right in sight a star is
Burning bright a star is born


Have you seen this movie? What did you like about it?

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.

Disney Lessons | Lion King

Ever since I have read Othello in college and Hamlet last year to teach my 9th graders, I have wanted to do a post on Lion King, especially to talk about the character of Scar and how is not like Claudius, but more like Iago…but I’ll get to that soon. Christian morals and beliefs are also majorily threaded through this movie. So, I’ll focus on the Christian and Shakespearean influences of this film.

The Circle of Life
This is the very beginning scene of Lion King. Mufasa, the leader of the pride has just beget a son–probably his first born, as you never really see any other cubs besides Nala. But, with this beginning song, you can definitely tell the Christian overtones in this movie. It could very well be taken on a naturalistic view point, “some say eat or be eaten”, and Mufasa even teaches it to Simba: “the antelope eat the grass, we eat the antelope, and when we die, we become the grass.” But, it could also be meaning the Great Plan our Father in Heaven has for us, the Plan of Salvation. 
Directly after the opening scene and the title, we see Scar for the first time. Already, we can see him as a very sarcastic, spiteful, discontented younger brother of the King, just as Claudius was in Hamlet. We can visibly see Scar’s disdain for his brother. He also warns Mufasa not to turn his back on him and says he wouldn’t physically ever challenge Mufasa.
Some Christian undertones begin when Mufasa takes Simba out to pride rock in the morning. He tells Simba that everything the light touches is their kingdom, and where the shadow is, is the badlands and to never go there. Well, obviously that could represent Our Father’s kingdom (think of the scripture: “Ye are the light of the world.”). Typically light represents God and shadow typically represents Satan and his following. So, in the movie, Mufasa is warning Simba never to go to the outlands where the hyenas and other bad animals live. But, to us Christians, it is God warning us to stay in His light and not stray out of His sight.
Simba likes his uncle Scar, and Scar plays along. Fact #1 that Scar is more like Othello’s Iago than Hamlet’s Claudius: he uses reverse psychology to trick Simba into going to the Elephant Graveyard in the outlands. Simba then gets his half-sister/cousin/best-friend Nala to go with him, but they have to trick Zazu to not babysit them. Before, Zazu mentions to them that they are betrothed. Thus, if this is Hamlet, and Simba, being the protagonist, is Hamlet, than Nala is Ophelia. Wait, does that mean Zazu, even though not Nala’s father, but being the king’s advisor, is Polonius, as he is always tyring to tell them how to act? I think so!
I Just Can’t Wait To Be King

They are disgusted with this notion (they’re kids, after all). Simba mentions that tradition will be the first to go when he is king. Zazu says no. Nala mentions that Simba is future king. Simba then says that means Zazu has to listen to what he says. Here we see some similarity between Simba’s pride adn Hamlet’s pride! Zazu then says, “And with an attitude like that, I’m afraid you’re shaping up to be a pretty pathetic king indeed.” Here is Polonius’s disapproval for Hamlet! This whole song has Simba/Hamlet’s pride. It’s also a fun, catchy song. =)

Simba and Nala are able to ditch Zazu and get to the Elephant Graveyard. There, they are chased by 3 hyenas. When they are cornered by the 3 hyenas (or evil spirits, influences), Mufasa rescues them. This could be like God rescuing us from evil or even the Atonement doing it’s work–being “rescued” from sin. After walking the kids home, Mufasa keeps Simba aside. Simba steps into Mufasa’s paw print, which is significantly larger than his own. He has big shoes to fill to be like his father, just as we try to be perfect like Christ and Heavenly Father. We have big shoes that are impossible to fill. During the lecture, Mufasa mentions that he is disappointed, not mad. Heavenly Father is disappointed when we don’t live as we should, but he doesn’t hate us. There is also a lesson about being scared, brave, and reckless. After they make up, Mufasa says, “Look at the stars. The great kings of the past look down on us from those stars. So whenever you feel alone, just remember that those kings will always be there to guide you … And so will I.” Seriously big Christian undertone there! Heavenly Father and his angels are there to guide us. If we pray, we can get advice and comfort from them!

Be Prepared
This is Scar’s evil plan song, all the evidence in the world that he is Iago and not Claudius. Before Hamlet even begins, Claudius had slowly poisoned his brother to death so that he could have Queen Gertrude and the throne. Iago was insulted in a way by his general, the Moor, Othello. He wanted revenge and used others to get it, as well as cunning, trickery, and slyness. There are many scenes in which we see Iago monologue-ing his plan to the audience and putting it into action through others. Scar uses hyenas. He also feels the hyenas are dumb; Iago didn’t think highly of his cohorts as well and saw them as pawns to be played.
The next scene is the saddest in the world. Scar brings Simba down to the ravine, claiming there is a surprise for him and his dad, then leaves him to get Mufasa. The hyenas start a stampede of antelope. Scar warns Mufasa that this is happening and Simba is in danger. Mufasa comes to rescue his son, and once he is in safety, Scar kills Mufasa while Simba watches. This could be seen as our Savior being crucified to save us. Simba is so distraught, and with Scar in whispering in his ear, Simba believes that he is to blame for the death and runs away. This could be seen as us believing there is no repentance for our sins.
Now this is where the play, Hamlet, starts…it has been a few months since the death of his father, and Hamlet’s mother has already married his uncle, her brother-in-law, thus allowing him to be King. Hamlet doesn’t run away until later in the play. While Simba has run off, Scar tells the news that Mufasa and Simba have both been killed in a stampede and thus he is king and starting a new era of lion and hyena. But, his reign quickly turns the kingdom to rot as the hyenas are allowed to roam free and become hunters rather than scavengers. Thus, the Circle of Life is disrupted and vegetation and food disappear.
Hakuna Matata

Simba is found by Timon and Pumbaa. They don’t have any matches, really in Hamlet, unless you want to compare them to Hamlet’s friends, but in the play, they help Gertrude and Claudius more than Hamlet, so I don’t like that comparison. Simba’s time living with these two could be comparable to Hamlet’s leave of Denmark and partial journey to England, but it’s a stretch.
Timon and Pumbaa teach Simba two simple words: Hakuna Matata–no worries. Think on the positive side, live life to it’s fullest, be happy with who you are.
One of my favorite scenes is a quick one with Rafiki, who symbolizes a prophet (no Hamlet comparisons). A breeze of wind and magical leaves (a motif in Disney movies) come and Rafiki has a revelation that Simba is alive and leaves to go find him.
Can You Feel The Love Tonight?
Nala left Pride Rock in search of help…Ophelia never did–she instead helped Polonius, Gertrude, and Claudius see if there was something wrong with Hamlet. But, she ends up hunting Pumbaa and eventually reunites with Simba. She’s excited and wants to let everyone know because that would mean Simba is king, not Scar. Simba, though, still believing he killed his father, doesn’t feel worthy, and says he’s not king. This could be like Hamlet’s depression of his father’s death. Even after Hamlet learned that his uncle killed his father, he was still in such a depression (like the “To Be Or Not To Be” monologue) and wondered if life was worth living or revenge was worth living for. Most of the play is Hamlet in this undecided, depressed mood.
This song is mainly just a love song, as Simba and Nala have a much happier end than Hamlet and Ophelia (spoiler, they both die). Also, Disney movies need to have a love song in them! Simba has some thoughts in this song, afraid to tell Nala the truth. Hamlet won’t let Ophelia in on why he’s acting the way he is and the knowledge he has, which eventually leads Ophelia mad. Nala knows there is something up, but can’t get Simba to tell her, just like Ophelia. Right after the end of the song, Simba says he wants to stay and doesn’t want to be king, whereas Nala tells him it is his responsibility. They fight and storm off. Again, this is like the on-and-off relationship of Hamlet and Ophelia.
The Mufasa Ghost Scene
Seriously!?! If you are a Christian, do you need the metaphorical, allegorical explanation of this scene? You are the Child of Christ, He lives, He lives in you and you in Him, you can always repent and get back on the straight and narrow path. CHRISTIAN UNDERTONES!!!!!
And, on a Hamlet undertone, this scene (well, just the ghost part) would have been on the of the very first scenes. In the beginning of the play, Hamlet sees the ghost of his father, who lets him know that Claudius killed him and Hamlet needs to remember who he is and get revenge.
Simba decides to return to Pride Rock to right his wrongs (wrestle with his sins, past, and inner demons) to take his rightful place on the throne (in God’s kingdom). Nala, Timon, and Pumbaa help him get back to Pride Rock. Hamlet didn’t have any one help (except for some actors whose play was a similitude of Claudius’s seducement of Gertrude and murder of the King).
The Last Scenes
Now, when Simba confronts Scar, Scar still tries to use slyness, cunning, and reverse psychology on Simba, Nala, and the rest of the pride. Well, in Hamlet, after Claudius sees the play, he feels super guilty about murdering his brother and is repentant. Scar never apologizes. Thus, another reason I believe Scar is more like Iago than Claudius. Scar does physically battle Simba. In the play, Claudius has the late Ophelia’s (she drowned herself) revenge-seeking brother duel Hamlet for him.  In very Shakespearean ways, everyone ends up poisoning each other either by drink, or tipped sword. So, Hamlet doesn’t win. But, Simba confronts Scar, allows his past to strengthen him and defeats Scar. Scar is thrown down over Pride Rock, to where a lightening strike has started a fire and the hyenas are fighting. I believe this is symbolic of hell…fire and “demons” ready to devour you. 
Rain starts, the pride looks to Simba, and Rafiki leads him to the top. There is ceremonial roaring, then the movie ends as it began–the Circle of Life. Simba is King, Nala is his wife, and they have just given birth. The Circle of Life continues, repentance works, and God (Mufasa) looks down on us all, proud.
So, there you have it. Lion King is a Christian interpretation of Hamlet!
Sometime, I will do Lion King 2, which continues the Christian beliefs!
Click the picture for more Lessons Learned from Disney posts!
What did you think of Lion King? Why did you like it? How else do you think it has Christian undertones?

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 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.

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.