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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Ponyo

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service


This is a scene from the animated movie "Ponyo."
An unabashed celebration of the innocence and wonder of childhood, as well as of the imaginative possibilities that can endure well beyond it, "Ponyo" (Disney) is a treat for youthful spirits of every age. This enchanting English-language version of a Japanese animated fable, inspired by Hans Christian Anderson's "The Little Mermaid," was originally written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki, a recognized master of the genre.
 
As adapted by directors John Lasseter, Brad Lewis and Peter Sohn, the mythic tale is set in motion when a determined little goldfish named Ponyo (voice of Noah Cyrus, sister of actress-singer Miley Cyrus) decides to escape the underwater realm of her domineering father, Fujimoto (voice of Liam Neeson)—a half-human wizard embittered against his fellow human beings by their abuse of nature—to explore the world beyond.
 
Reaching shore, she comes under the protection of Sosuke (voice of the Jonas Brothers' younger sibling Frankie Jonas), a plucky, affectionate 5-year-old boy. With his father Koichi (voice of Matt Damon), a merchant sailor often away at sea, Sosuke is used to providing moral support to his lonely mother Lisa (voice of Tina Fey). He's also a favorite with the residents of the nursing home where Lisa works, a trio of them voiced by Cloris Leachman, Lily Tomlin and Betty White.
 
Sosuke and Ponyo bond immediately. But, with Fujimoto resolved to use his supernatural powers to reclaim his daughter, Sosuke's love for her will be put to the test in a series of adventures, both before and after Ponyo's mysterious transformation into a little girl.
 
Japanese cultural elements incorporated into the story—the script was adapted by Melissa Mathison—include brief scenes of Shinto prayer and the divine status of Ponyo's mother, Gran Mamare (voice of Cate Blanchett), identified in English as the "goddess of the sea."
 
But the underlying moral messages, such as the repeated admonition to judge by substance rather than appearance and a deftly delivered warning against environmental carelessness, are universal.
 
The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is A-I—general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is G—general audiences; all ages admitted.
 
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Mulderig is on the staff of the Office for Film & Broadcasting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.




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Philip Neri: Philip Neri was a sign of contradiction, combining popularity with piety against the background of a corrupt Rome and a disinterested clergy, the whole post-Renaissance malaise. 
<p>At an early age, he abandoned the chance to become a businessman, moved to Rome from Florence and devoted his life and individuality to God. After three years of philosophy and theology studies, he gave up any thought of ordination. The next 13 years were spent in a vocation unusual at the time—that of a layperson actively engaged in prayer and the apostolate. </p><p>As the Council of Trent (1545-63) was reforming the Church on a doctrinal level, Philip’s appealing personality was winning him friends from all levels of society, from beggars to cardinals. He rapidly gathered around himself a group of laypersons won over by his audacious spirituality. Initially they met as an informal prayer and discussion group, and also served poor people in Rome. </p><p>At the urging of his confessor, he was ordained a priest and soon became an outstanding confessor, gifted with the knack of piercing the pretenses and illusions of others, though always in a charitable manner and often with a joke. He arranged talks, discussions and prayers for his penitents in a room above the church. He sometimes led “excursions” to other churches, often with music and a picnic on the way. </p><p>Some of his followers became priests and lived together in community. This was the beginning of the Oratory, the religious institute he founded. A feature of their life was a daily afternoon service of four informal talks, with vernacular hymns and prayers. Giovanni Palestrina was one of Philip’s followers, and composed music for the services. </p><p>The Oratory was finally approved after suffering through a period of accusations of being an assembly of heretics, where laypersons preached and sang vernacular hymns! (Cardinal Newman founded the first English-speaking house of the Oratory three centuries later.) </p><p>Philip’s advice was sought by many of the prominent figures of his day. He is one of the influential figures of the Counter-Reformation, mainly for converting to personal holiness many of the influential people within the Church itself. His characteristic virtues were humility and gaiety.</p> American Catholic Blog We need do no more than we are doing at present; that is, to love divine Providence and abandon ourselves in his arms and heart.<br />—St. Padre Pio

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