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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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Jutta of Thuringia: Today's patroness of Prussia began her life amidst luxury and power but died the death of a simple servant of the poor.
<p>In truth, virtue and piety were always of prime importance to Jutta and her husband, both of noble rank. The two were set to make a pilgrimage together to the holy places in Jerusalem, but her husband died on the way. The newly widowed Jutta, after taking care to provide for her children, resolved to live in a manner utterly pleasing to God. She disposed of the costly clothes, jewels and furniture befitting one of her rank, and became a Secular Franciscan, taking on the simple garment of a religious.
</p><p>From that point her life was utterly devoted to others: caring for the sick, particularly lepers; tending to the poor, whom she visited in their hovels; helping the crippled and blind with whom she shared her own home. Many of the townspeople of Thuringia laughed at how the once-distinguished lady now spent all her time. But Jutta saw the face of God in the poor and felt honored to render whatever services she could.
</p><p>About the year 1260, not long before her death, Jutta lived near the non-Christians in eastern Germany. There she built a small hermitage and prayed unceasingly for their conversion. She has been venerated for centuries as the special patron of Prussia.</p> American Catholic Blog The confessional is not the dry-cleaner’s; it is an encounter with Jesus, with that Jesus who is waiting for us, who is waiting for us as we are.

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