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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.
 
- - -
 
Mulderig is on the staff of the Office for Film & Broadcasting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.


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Andrew Dung-Lac and Companions: Andrew Dung-Lac was one of 117 people martyred in Vietnam between 1820 and 1862. Members of this group were beatified on four different occasions between 1900 and 1951. All were canonized by St. John Paul II. 
<p>Christianity came to Vietnam (then three separate kingdoms) through the Portuguese. Jesuits opened the first permanent mission at Da Nang in 1615. They ministered to Japanese Catholics who had been driven from Japan. </p><p>The king of one of the kingdoms banned all foreign missionaries and tried to make all Vietnamese deny their faith by trampling on a crucifix. Like the priest-holes in Ireland during English persecution, many hiding places were offered in homes of the faithful. </p><p>Severe persecutions were again launched three times in the 19th century. During the six decades after 1820, between 100,000 and 300,000 Catholics were killed or subjected to great hardship. Foreign missionaries martyred in the first wave included priests of the Paris Mission Society, and Spanish Dominican priests and tertiaries. </p><p>Persecution broke out again in 1847 when the emperor suspected foreign missionaries and Vietnamese Christians of sympathizing with a rebellion led by of one of his sons. </p><p>The last of the martyrs were 17 laypersons, one of them a 9-year-old, executed in 1862. That year a treaty with France guaranteed religious freedom to Catholics, but it did not stop all persecution. </p><p>By 1954 there were over a million and a half Catholics—about seven percent of the population—in the north. Buddhists represented about 60 percent. Persistent persecution forced some 670,000 Catholics to abandon lands, homes and possessions and flee to the south. In 1964, there were still 833,000 Catholics in the north, but many were in prison. In the south, Catholics were enjoying the first decade of religious freedom in centuries, their numbers swelled by refugees. </p><p>During the Vietnamese war, Catholics again suffered in the north, and again moved to the south in great numbers. Now the whole country is under Communist rule.</p> American Catholic Blog To replace our sins with virtues may seem like a daunting task, but fortunately we can follow the example of the saints who have 
successfully defeated these sins in their lifetimes. They provide us with a way forward so that we, too, can live holy, virtuous lives.

 
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