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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Rise of the Guardians

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service


North (Alec Baldwin) welcomes Jack Frost (Chris Pine) in this scene from the animated movie "Rise of the Guardians."
What better way to spend a few hours over the holidays than in the company, not only of Santa Claus himself, but of the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and the Sandman?

Courtesy of the delightful 3-D animated adventure "Rise of the Guardians" (Paramount), moviegoers of almost all ages can do just that.

Based on books by William Joyce, the film focuses on the destiny of the legendary bringer of winter, Jack Frost (voice of Chris Pine). Free-spirited and mischievous, youthful Jack is also lonely and uncertain of his purpose in life. Until, that is, he's invited to join the Guardians, a force made up of the mythical characters listed above.

The Guardians' mission is to protect children against the machinations of the Bogeyman, aka Pitch Black (voice of Jude Law).

As the initially reluctant Jack is introduced to his newfound comrades, we discover a new slant on each traditional persona. Thus Santa, alias North (voice of Alec Baldwin), is a hardy Cossack type with a heavy Russian accent, while everyone's favorite seasonal rabbit (voice of Hugh Jackman) turns out to be a boomerang wielder from Down Under. (Parents of a certain age will recognize a play on a famous line from 1986's "Crocodile Dundee.")

The elusive distributor of quarters under children's pillows (voice of Isla Fisher) is portrayed as half-human, half-hummingbird. She's at least human, and feminine, enough that Jack's shining teeth (and, by implication, his appearance in general) set her a bit aquiver, though only in the vaguest, most innocent way. As for the chap who makes all our eyelids heavy, he's presented as a mute but cheerful and endearing sprite.

In his feature debut, director Peter Ramsey, working from a script by David Lindsay-Abaire, pits the hope and wonder championed by the Guardians against the fear and self-doubt that arm Pitch with his most effective wiles. The result is a tenderhearted and touching family movie -- one, moreover, that's entirely free of objectionable content.

This is, though, a struggle between the battling archetypes of good and evil over the fate of the world's children. So there are portions of the action that might be too dark and scary for the smallest members of the clan.

The film contains perilous situations. The Catholic News Service classification is A-I—general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG—parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

*****
John Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.



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Jacopone da Todi: Jacomo, or James, was born a noble member of the Benedetti family in the northern Italian city of Todi. He became a successful lawyer and married a pious, generous lady named Vanna. 
<p>His young wife took it upon herself to do penance for the worldly excesses of her husband. One day Vanna, at the insistence of Jacomo, attended a public tournament. She was sitting in the stands with the other noble ladies when the stands collapsed. Vanna was killed. Her shaken husband was even more disturbed when he realized that the penitential girdle she wore was for his sinfulness. On the spot, he vowed to radically change his life. </p><p>He divided his possessions among the poor and entered the Secular Franciscan Order (once known as the Third Order). Often dressed in penitential rags, he was mocked as a fool and called Jacopone, or "Crazy Jim," by his former associates. The name became dear to him. </p><p>After 10 years of such humiliation, Jacopone asked to be a member of the Order of Friars Minor(First Order). Because of his reputation, his request was initially refused. He composed a beautiful poem on the vanities of the world, an act that eventually led to his admission into the Order in 1278. He continued to lead a life of strict penance, declining to be ordained a priest. Meanwhile he was writing popular hymns in the vernacular. </p><p>Jacopone suddenly found himself a leader in a disturbing religious movement among the Franciscans. The Spirituals, as they were called, wanted a return to the strict poverty of Francis. They had on their side two cardinals of the Church and Pope Celestine V. These two cardinals, though, opposed Celestine’s successor, Boniface VIII. At the age of 68, Jacopone was excommunicated and imprisoned. Although he acknowledged his mistake, Jacopone was not absolved and released until Benedict XI became pope five years later. He had accepted his imprisonment as penance. He spent the final three years of his life more spiritual than ever, weeping "because Love is not loved." During this time he wrote the famous Latin hymn, <i>Stabat Mater</i>. </p><p>On Christmas Eve in 1306 Jacopone felt that his end was near. He was in a convent of the Poor Clares with his friend, Blessed John of La Verna. Like Francis, Jacopone welcomed "Sister Death" with one of his favorite songs. It is said that he finished the song and died as the priest intoned the Gloria from the midnight Mass at Christmas. From the time of his death, Brother Jacopone has been venerated as a saint.</p> American Catholic Blog By immersing our lives in the rhythm of the season, charity can flood our souls and fill us with the happiness for which we were created. We awake Christmas morning prepared to celebrate the birth of our Savior not as a memory but as a profound experience of God’s redemptive love.

 
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