1 Stars Out Of 5
Disappointing ... and maybe even worse...
December 16, 2014
My husband and I purchased this DVD based on the lovely previews/trailer online and the many recommendations which stated that the wholesome movie was suited perfectly for family viewing. It IS a wholesome family movie in the sense that it has no violence, bad language, etc. However, the fact is that this movie, while hailed as a Christmas movie for families, has NO mention of Christ, his saving love, his birth, any glimpse of a nativity, NOTHING to do with the Savior's birth. I believe this type of movie to be a big disappointment for Christian families, in spite of the attractive characters, nostalgic mood, old-fashioned setting/costumes, etc. The movie itself is very enchanting (much like Little Women, or Little Men -which I've been reading aloud to my kids this fall), but I just couldn't figure out what was bugging me about it until the very end, and after some reflection, there are several things. For starters, we ARE believers and we do know and love the reason for celebrating Christmas. So when we buy a Christmas video that's really just "cute" but totally misses the whole mark for what Christmas really is, I feel like that's what we need to call it, a disappointment. Second, while there are virtues displayed in this movie (perseverance, kindness, forgiveness, compassion, gentleness... notice faith is NOT on this list), there are many more vices on display for our kids. There are lots of kids with really poor attitudes being displayed (rebelliousness, defiance, cunning, disrespect, cruelty...) and there is very little remorse without some sort of personal gain. Thirdly, the predominant theme of the strained relationship between Mr. Crampton (the headmaster of the orphanage) and his charges, is a focus on how mean Mr. Crampton is for "punishing" the orphans for their acts of defiance and disobedience (while totally neglecting to show any remorse in the children for having committed those acts!!) This is probably my biggest CON, because it was so subtle a message and yet so thorough throughout the movie, the idea that children should be allowed to be naughty because that's just how children are, and they should never be punished for disobedience, because punishment is MEAN. If the word "punishment" was used in the movie 20 times, I wouldn't be surprised. That's why it has a PG-rating, because it is (in this modern world) considered cruel to punish children by making them spend time in isolation in an empty, dark attic for their behavior. (Ironically, this would probably be considered one of the more desirable punishments for children of that day and age. Remember the punishments described in books by Charles Dickens or Laura Ingalls Wilder?) In this movie the main character (who is disobedient, disrespectful, and defiant... multiple times... and sooooo pitiful-looking when she gets caught) has the nerve to put on that poor-pitiful-me face every time she gets caught. Of course she has a heart, and we get to see it, but what we don't get to see is either remorse or repentance. And THIS is why is why the main character is in trouble on Christmas day and might miss out on having her long-awaited Christmas orange. She was disobedient and disrespectful and Mr. Crampton punished her for it. Am I the only one who sees the evil hidden in that message? Isn't this what's wrong with parenting today?...that nobody wants to be "mean" and we adults wonder why modern children have no conscience anymore?? I repeat, there is no Christ in this Christmas movie. The meager virtues on display in this movie, while rooted in Christ, are no substitute for Him. Instead of Him, there were oranges.
This movie is one I won't even donate to Goodwill.