A memorable sighting of glory occurs during the climax of the acclaimed film, The King’s Speech. Events in the life of England’s King George VI preceding that moment, music from Beethoven’s seventh symphony, and choreographic performances by Geoffrey Rush and Colin Firth come together to reveal a heartrending beauty.
The wistful seventh chapter of Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows gives another encounter with splendor. Titled “Piper at the Gates of Dawn,” it’s the tale of the enchantment of Rat and Mole, by the god Pan, as they search for the lost otter child.
And whole sections of C. S. Lewis’s novel, Perelandra, magnify my longing for paradise.
Just as every story is about the fall, every narrative features relationships. I am especially intrigued by variations on Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son. For example, A River Runs Through It tells of a Presbyterian fly-fishing preacher whose two sons give him full doses of joy and grief. Field of Dreams features Ray Kinsella’s angst over his angry last words to his father.
The novel Atticus (yes, the title alludes to To Kill a Mockingbird) is about a father’s quest to find his estranged son.
A widowed father, in Peace Like a River, is fully occupied by his three children—a precocious nine-year-old daughter, an asthmatic eleven-year-old son and the story’s narrator, and an angry, lost sixteen-year-old boy.
Many children’s stories highlight faith. The narrator in Chris Van Allsburg’s The Polar Express tells of the time he believed and received one silver bell from Santa’s sleigh. He concludes his narrative: “Though I’ve gown old, the bell still rings for me as it does for all who truly believe.”
In Peter Pan, Tinkerbelle grows weak from Captain Hook’s poison. Her light fades until children in the audience clap and shout, “I believe in fairies!”
Irene, in George MacDonald’s The Princess and the Goblin, never doubts the thread her great-great-grandmother had given her. Irene’s grandmother had said, “Of one thing you may be sure, that while you hold it, I hold it too.”
Many shun the idea that someone behind the scenes orchestrates events in our lives; but when we see it in stories, we readily accept it. I’m thinking about the “it just so happened” element. For example Ferris, in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, is always just at the right place at the right time; the violin in The Red Violin is directed by its destiny; and an unseen force in Holes guides Stanley Yelnats to the treasure—to reverse the family’s curse.
A Happy Ending
Movies such as The Artist, You’ve Got Mail, and Monsters Inc. are among my favorites, for each has a surprising turn of events that welcomes a joyous finale. I’m sure most readers have seen You’ve Got Mail; however I’ll sound a spoiler alert. We know that Joe and Kathleen’s email buddy, NY152, are the same person. But we long for Kathleen to discover it. At last, as Kathleen awaits her beloved near a walled garden, Joe draws near. With “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” playing in the background, Joes wipes Kathleen’s tears and says, “Don’t cry, Shopgirl. Don’t cry.” Kathleen responds, “I wanted it to be you. I wanted it to be you so badly.” Voilà! The happy ending.