I have the tendency to interpret stories in the context of my Christian worldview. I know of course that everyone interprets things through their own worldview, but I try to be very intentional about it. For example, when I watch a movie I’m constantly asking myself questions like “How is the hero like Jesus?” “What does this story say about man’s condition before God?” “What is mankind’s problem according to this story?” And so on. I believe that all good stories are stories about God, whether the writers are aware of the fact or not. That is, God may have hard-wired the gospel story into the subconcious of humankind. The story of God is thus the meta-story that all other stories are reaching up towards.
The reason I mention this is because recently I watched a film that expresses the story of God in such vivid terms that it could almost be considered a Christian allegory. When I saw the themes beginning to weave together, I was awestruck. The film I am referring to is Walt Disney’s Snow White.
I’ve of course seen Snow White before, but that was back in the olden days when videos were on tapes and you had to rewind them before you could watch them. Last Christmas I received the movie on DVD, but wasn’t given a chance to watch it until recently. So in some ways, it was like seeing it for the first time, although I knew the story as well as anyone. We all know about Snow White, the evil queen, the seven dwarves, and the prince.
But what happens when you exchange Snow White for “church,” evil queen for “Satan,” and prince for “Jesus Christ?” Suddenly the themes of Fall, Redemption, and Resurrection become startlingly plain. (Unfortunately, the dwarves don’t play much of a role in the allegory, which may be one of the reasons CS Lewis considered them to be “vulgar.”)
Keep in mind as you approach the film also that the themes are not presented in strictly chronological order, but as William Dembski might say, kairological order. Look at it this way.
The evil queen [Satan] despises Snow White [the church] and tries to have her destroyed. But it isn’t enough that Snow White should go through physical death; the queen makes a way that she should experience “sleeping” [eternal/spiritual] death. Snow White has been separated from her beloved prince [Christ] and longs (or as she puts it, dreams) to be with him forever. She prays to God that he’ll make all her dreams come true. She is cared for by the dwarves who warn her not to trust any strangers [as God warned Adam and Eve not to eat from a certain tree]. But the evil queen comes to Snow White and offers her an apple she claims is magical. Shunning the warning of the dwarves and listening to the enticing lies of the witch, she accepts the cursed apple[just as Adam and Eve accepted the forbidden fruit]. Not trusting God to fulfill her desires, Snow White decides to take things into her own hands by eating the apple, but the consequence is death. The dwarves and all the forest mourn Snow White’s death, although the wicked queen is destroyed. When all hope seems lost, the prince comes, kisses Snow White, who is raised from the dead. The creation itself is released from its mourning at her resurrection, and the prince and princess ride off the the prince’s celestial castle [The New Heavens and New Earth], where they live happily ever after.
Have you ever wondered how all these fairy stories can end by saying “they lived happily ever after” if they die someday? If they live happily only for the rest of their lives, shouldn’t the story say that? Doesn’t “ever after” imply eternity? And the scriptures say God has set eternity into our hearts (Ecclesiates 3:11).
I believe I can credit the incredible popularity of the Disney princesses at least partially to the fact that little girls aren’t so cynical that they stifle the eternity set in their hearts. All of us girls dream of someone who will love us passionately, protect us, cherish us, and be with us forever and always. Someone who will wipe away all our tears, fulfill all our longings, never leave us, and never forsake us. And there is Someone who desires greatly to fulfill all these dreams for us.
Someday my prince will come. Someday we’ll meet again. And away to His palace we’ll go to be happy forever. I know.