Tuesday, December 20, 2005

 

The Great Father/Son Films

When you think about it, on a spiritual level, the Christmas story is really the ultimate father/son story. Hollywood has had its share of good father/son films as well. Many of these have come from the Walt Disney studio, whose classic films generally involve a protagonist who either has no parents (Snow White), an evil step-parent (Cinderella), or just one, rather non-relevant, parent (Belle). In all those cases, however, the protagonists are female, all lacking a mother, and having to make it in the world by finding the "prince" who will save them. That archetype has informed the minds of million and millions of impressionable girls over the years. Still, Disney did offer a father/son story during this "golden" age with a message which spoke just as strongly to boys -- Pinocchio. Once again, the story revolves around a single parent household (amazing, isn't it, how many of Disney's films -- the paradigm of "family" entertainment -- involve one-parent homes, even back in the 30s and 40s). Pinocchio's quest to "be a real boy" and ultimately save his father, still resonates today. More recently, Disney created two films which explore the father/son bond. The Lion King, in which the young cub Simba must live up to his father's legacy, relates how a father's spirit lives on in his son (not unlike the Christmas story). Setting the father as an unlikely "hero" is Disney's wonderfully realized Finding Nemo, in which a neurotic little clown fish, who has lost his wife and had to raise his only son alone, will literally risk life and limb to find his son, when he becomes lost in the vast ocean. On a somewhat more adult level, Field of Dreams taps into all the unspoken emotions, and things left unsaid, between a father and a son, sometimes. It uses baseball -- America's father/son sport -- and the activities and foundations associated with it, to make its point. Sometimes, no matter how old you are, you just want to play catch with your Dad. The Santa Clause 1 & 2 also explore the bond between father and son. Scott Calvin (played by Tim Allen) isn't only learning to be a good divorced father to his own son, but as Santa Claus, a father to all the children of the world.

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