Thursday, February 23, 2017

Why 'Thumbelina' is an Important Movie

I may be turning into a motivational writer. That’s a good thing, right? I might not be as good at following my own advice so take it with a grain of salt. Maybe I’ll listen to myself someday. But for right now, I want to share the following thoughts because I’ve had them for a while.

Don Bluth’s Thumbelina is one of my favorite movies ever. I grew up watching it over and over again as a little kid, and I fell in love with it again as a tween--and then the VHS player in the back room ate our copy. I didn’t watch it again until college.

my edit

The first time I watched it as an adult, I was still slowly recovering from my first really big battle with depression. And on that viewing, Thumbelina made an impression on me like it never had before. Yes, it is a kids movie, but like some things more geared towards kids, there is something about Thumbelina that adults need to take seriously.

And what is that, exactly? I’m talking about following your heart.

Thumbelina is a little, LITTLE person in a big world, dominated by big people and bigger animals. Bigger things like mother nature. From the outset, Thumbelina doubts herself because she doesn’t know if she can ever take control of her own life--or have someone her size to understand her. Don’t get me wrong, she loves her mother, but there’s something special about being able to share your life with someone you have something more in common with. Like age. Or stature.

“I wish I were big,” she laments to her mother one night over story-time.
“Oh no,” says her mother. “Don’t ever wish to be anything but what you are.”
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Accepting Bethany

Later that night, she meets fairy Prince Cornelius. They fall in love almost right away and go out for a romantic joyride. Thumbelina is pretty sure, yes, this is what she wants in life.

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But after she goes to bed, Mrs. Toad hops in and kidnaps her. Because Mrs. Toad’s son, Grande, is in love with Thumbelina, too.

Thumbelina protests, she loves the fairy Prince, what makes Mrs. Toad think she wants her son? But Mrs. Toad offers her something a little more interesting: a chance to join the Toad family band, travel the world, and become a famous music star. To be big--big as in important. Rich and famous. How could marrying your true love possibly be as rewarding, she tempts Thumbelina, as being rich and famous?
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"Ai, chihuahua, that would be a very big mistake." WeHeartIt

Thumbelina’s infatuation with notion evaporates as soon as the Toads abandon her on a lily pad to go get the family for the wedding.


Accepting Bethany

This, right here, summarizes Thumbelina’s frustrations in the whole entire film. She loves the fairy prince and wants to spend her life with him. But she keeps getting sidetracked and waylaid by other characters who don’t care what she wants, who think that what she wants isn’t as good or important as what they want for her.

Thumbelina is rescued by Jacquemo the swallow, who is probably the only major character in the film to give a darn about what Thumbelina wants. He even does a whole musical number about it. And why is that? Thumbelina is lost, she has no idea how to get home, and the odds of getting back to be reunited with the prince should be slim to none for a girl no bigger than your thumb.

“It’s impossible.”
“Impossible? Nothing is impossible!”

Accepting Bethany

It’s a cliche catchphrase, but it’s still an important one. We get held back and discouraged by everything that goes wrong, we begin to think that the goals we set out to achieve are not obtainable. To believe that we can achieve anything in our desire, that we have the power to do so, is a choice.

With her spirits renewed, Thumbelina sets out to go home, and then she gets taken by the Beetle. Instead of meeting up with the prince, she gets to make her big debut in the Beetle’s show. But as soon as her costume falls off and the bugs start ridiculing her looks, the Beetle leaves her high and dry.

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Jacquemo, who always seems to turn up when Thumbelina needs encouragement the most, tells her that if she doesn’t care about the Beetle, then his approval doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is what she thinks of herself, and what the people who truly care about her think.

Winter comes, and she hears word that Prince Cornelius is dead. Mrs. Fieldmouse’s proposal seems reasonable: marry the Mole and let him take care of her for the rest of her life. When she was out looking for home and getting nowhere she was starving. What’s the use?

But Jacquemo comes to remind her again that what she really wants is to marry the Prince. This scene almost breaks my heart. Jacquemo is reminding her that she can get what she wants, that she isn’t too small to follow her big dreams. And she’s yelling at him, “STOP! STOP IT, JACQUEMO!” For all Thumbelina knows, Cornelius is dead and her dream of being with him is shot. But a part of her still wants to believe--she still wants to have Cornelius in her life. She’s partly yelling at herself. I relate to this so much.
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She’s in denial, you’re saying? Well, it’s more than just that. She comes to her senses at the altar and rejects the Mole. Even if she mistakenly believes that Cornelius is dead, she still knows that no one else could never make her that happy.

Jacquemo, who cared enough about Thumbelina’s dream to help her get it, takes her to the Vale of the Fairies, where Cornelius--who wasn’t dead after all--finds her again. And that’s when Thumbelina gets her own wings--because she followed through on her dream.
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I’m here to tell you today that when you really want to have something in life, your attitude is what makes the difference. Like Thumbelina, chances are the odds are stacked against you. No one with your set of weaknesses is likely to succeed. But the only thing stopping you is yourself. You need to believe in what you want. And you need to believe in your ability to reach your goal. No one can make you believe. Believing is something you do for yourself.

Fame and fortune, popularity, and a comfortable life are not the things that will really make you happy. True success comes from being true to what YOU want.

Follow your heart. It is the message behind Thumbelina. It is the message behind many of my favorite stories. In a world where there are so many people trying to tell you what to do and how to live your life, it is a message that desperately needs to be heard.

It doesn’t matter if your goal is to marry a fairy prince, get your degree, or make a million dollars (or, like me, take just care of myself). Whatever you have to go through to get it is worth the agony. When you follow your heart--when you go after what you really want, and you do what it takes to pursue your worthwhile goals--then you can do anything.

“Nothing is impossible.”

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Accepting Bethany

Read More: Thumbelina's Life Lessons by Accepting Bethany. This blogger makes similar points and then some. 

Monday, February 13, 2017

Love You to the Moon and Back: Lupin and Tonks

Lupin and Tonks (Harry Potter Fanart) by tropicalraccoon:
I’m going to make honoring one of my OTPs a Valentine’s Day tradition (Link: last year's post). True, my personal love life SUCKS, but reading about love and watching movies about love is encouraging. Love still has a purpose in existence. And it is an integral part of my fandoms and my favorite stories. Because sometimes love is what makes all the difference.

Fair warning, I am going to get extremely personal with this post. But the themes in this story are tied to issues that have been on my mind recently. (If you’re my future husband, however, I think you need to read this.)

This year’s OTP is Lupin and Tonks from the Harry Potter series. This couple is special to me for a number of reasons so allow me to elaborate. This might end up being more of a tribute to Lupin than to Tonks or the both of them, but as they say, there’s method to my madness.

remus lupin:

As some of you may or may not know, I am a sucker for backstories and subplots. One of my absolute favorite things about the Potter saga is the Marauders backstory. Imagine this: listening to the Jim Dale audio performance of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban while driving through the Colorado rockies to drop off dad at a Boy Scout high adventure, and after dark while you’re trying to fall asleep before Mom gets to the hotel you’re at the part where Harry, Ron and Hermione are in the Shrieking Shack with Sirius, Lupin, and Pettigrew. It’s the most beautiful thing you’ve ever heard. You already read it a month ago, but this time the story has meaning.

Then a few months later your family rents the movie on VHS over Thanksgiving (yes, it actually came out on VHS). Your mom is explaining the backstory of the Mauraders to your best friend’s mom who only speaks Spanish. You understand enough Spanish in context of the situation that you know what she’s saying. It’s the most beautiful thing you’ve ever heard in Spanish.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban print by Paul Slayton, via Behance:
Remus Lupin, at a young age, was bitten by Fenrir Greyback and made a werewolf. Once a month, he becomes a mindless monster. Other werewolves have rejected mainstream wizardry. Lupin’s parents want him to have as normal a life as possible. Arrangements are made for him to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. And when he’s at Hogwarts, he comes across three young boys his age who instantly become his best friends. Their antics and hijinks become the stuff of school legend. When they discover their friend is a werewolf, they don’t reject him. Instead they stand by him and do their best to make life more bearable for him.

Remus Lupin on platform 9 ¾ before he boards the train to Hogwarts. by petitemarianna:
Tragedy strikes after they leave school. Wormtail betrays them and goes on the run. James is murdered by Voldemort. Sirius Black is framed for selling him out and sent to Azkaban. Remus Lupin does his best to live a normal life in the Wizarding World, but it’s difficult. And lonely.

Enter Nymphadora Tonks at the start of the Second Wizarding War. Recent Hogwarts graduate, Hufflepuff, recruited to the Order of the Phoenix. I don’t pretend to know how Tonks and Lupin were introduced. Or what it was about him that got her to like him. To be honest, I have a hard time understanding women who go after older men period. And I don’t get why Tonks would suddenly have an interest in a guy who is poor, older, and not guaranteed to be able to take care of her. She’s a young, attractive Auror with everything going for her. What is she thinking?

Nyphadora Tonks gif by rosaesse

And yet for some reason, right before Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince came out, thirteen-year-old me starts having fantasies that Lupin and Tonks would get married. I don’t recall the reason why. But I did think that Tonks having a good job as an Auror would be able to get him wolfsbane potion once a month, so that would sweeten the deal. If she’s an Auror she has to be good at potions, right? And plus, she’s the one with a good job, so Remus wouldn’t have to worry, right? (For the record, my mom has been the breadwinner in my family since I was a preteen so I don’t see anything wrong with working moms).  So in other words, I shipped them before I knew shipping was a thing.

So you can imagine my surprise and delight with the hospital scene after Dumbledore’s death. Due to this and several other weird predictions/premonitions during my youth, I conclude that I had ESP when I was younger.

I have to assume, as with most things in fandom, that Tonks fell for him behind the scenes. During their work together for the Order of the Phoenix they spent time together, got to know each other. And somehow, there was chemistry. And then, Tonks opened up to him about her feelings. He was scared. He wasn’t ready for someone to accept him. So he backed out. Hence, mousy-haired, moody Tonks all of Harry’s sixth year.

tonks and her new potronus:

This is the part where I’m really grateful for Fleur Delacour. Any other witch could have rejected Bill Weasley after being injured by Greyback. Any other witch might not have risked the side effects of Bill being poisoned and having his face scarred. But to Fleur Delacour, there is more to being in love with someone than their being young and whole. And this is the affirmation that Tonks needs to voice her true feelings. I think it’s the Hufflepuff in her: she loves Remus and she refuses to give up on him, no matter what.

For months after Half-blood Prince came out, I would go back and re-read this part over and over again.

Lupin doesn’t reject her because he doesn’t want her. He rejects Tonks because he hates himself. He’s anything but the ideal Wizard that Tonks should be seeking after.

Million Times Remus and Tonks by ~hnl on deviantART. I love how Harry is in the background like "Wrong room!":
There are very few fictional characters that I identify with as much as Remus Lupin. And I would be hesitant--am hesitant--to get into a committed relationship with someone for those same reasons. I’m poor. I can’t keep a job. I’m mentally imbalanced. I’m autistic. I have moments of OCD-induced terror or rage that make me feel exactly like a werewolf. I could never be a perfect wife to the perfect guy I’m going to fall in love with someday. Much less a perfect mom to the kids of that perfect guy. My anxiety over failing in these important, God-given roles is almost paranoia. It’s probably worse for Lupin because he’s been rejected over and over again in public: my worst critic is my own self.

In book seven, when Lupin abandons Tonks, the fear that motivates him to do so is frighteningly real to me. But not so much that I am afraid of what my children will become. I’m afraid of them having a monster for a mother. A mother who can’t take care of them.

For the record, I have not seen the film adaptations of Deathly Hallows, parts one or two, because of how they treated the Lupin/Tonks story in the sixth film with them already dating. That was just cheesy. And I knew that they weren’t going to get right any of the other parts that mattered for Deathly Hallows, much less Lupin and Tonks. I suppose someday I’ll swallow my pride. But for the record, it goes to show how much their story means to me. Even the actors who played Lupin and Tonks agreed that they wanted to see more of their story on screen.

I love Remus and Tonks to pieces! So mad that they didn't get into the movies :'(:
BOOM. (Pinerest)

Getting back from that tangent: I guess sometime before Dumbledore’s funeral, Lupin and Tonks had a talk. Lupin must have figured out that he actually loved her in return and he was talked into courting her. By the beginning of book seven, they’ve eloped. Reading that part for the first time after the book came out was sheer joy. For someone who was such a huge fan of Lupin, his relationship with Tonks was a miracle.

I just kind of dealt with Lupin leaving Tonks during her pregnancy--I read Deathly Hallows for the first time in most of one day. That was resolved soon enough. And it turned out Lupin’s fears about a monstrous child were ill-founded: Teddy turns out to be a metamorphmagus like his mom and he’s absolutely suave when he grows up. But Remus and Tonks dying in the Battle of Hogwarts when Teddy is just days old? That hurt. That hurt a lot.

I mostly feel bad for Lupin because, after all of the crap that he’d put up with in his life, he deserved, he NEEDED, to be happy. Finally with Tonks and Teddy, he had everything going for him. ALL OF THE OTHER MARAUDERS WERE DEAD. AT LEAST ONE OF THEM SHOULD HAVE LIVED.

"Same Mirror - Same Place - Different Orphan" - Kori (button-bird)   -me: crying eyes out- :'(:

But Remus Lupin died at the battle of Hogwarts so that Voldemort’s reign of terror would end. And Nymphadora Tonks died alongside him because she didn’t want to be without him. Her son was safe at home with her mother. Tonks wanted to be with the man he loved.

“He will know why I died and I hope he will understand. I was trying to make a world in which he could live a happier life.”

I can be okay with that. That’s as much as any true hero dies for, isn’t it?

But last year, keeping with her annual tradition of expressing remorse for the death of a character, J.K. Rowling had a few words to say about Remus Lupin.

It had to happen. Remus and Tonks had to die for literary symmetry. I understand, Jo.:

Remus Lupin is one of my favorite Harry Potter characters because, yes, like me, he had a hard life, but in spite of that he was able to experience the true magic of friendship and love.

Lupin and Tonks are a reminder that to be truly in love with someone--to be in a true, committed relationship with them--means that our flaws, our imperfections, our weaknesses don’t matter. When two people in love get together, they promise to do their best to support each other and rear the next generation in spite of everything that could go wrong. True love keeps going. I hope that when I find my true love, I can find the same courage.

If you like the pins/pictures I had in this post, follow my Pinterest board harry potter and the pinterest of erised

Monday, February 6, 2017

MovieQuote Meditation: "Rebellions are Built on Hope"

It would seem like hope is in short supply these days. I don’t really need to elaborate on why people think that the world is in a really bad place (or why I have to agree with them).

I’m going to tell you something that you might not believe:

There is still reason to have hope.

There are a lot of bad things happening now. And bad things will happen in the future. But there are still a lot of things in this world that are good. And many good things are still waiting to happen.

Last December, a little movie called Rogue One: A Star Wars Story came out. This film was about the team of Rebel spies who stole the plans for the first Death Star. Other than the obvious aim to make a profit, why would Lucasfilm want to go back and tell this story?
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It’s like when a leader in my church brings up a story from the scriptures to make a certain point. We already know who wins. We know what’s going to happen. We already know the obvious moral of the story (the good guys win). But in the retelling there is a point being made that isn’t quite so obvious. Rogue One is about the battle against the odds that a mismatched team of heroes had to overcome to accomplish the feat that led to Princess Leia running from Darth Vader at the beginning of A New Hope--odds that included doubt from the leaders of the Alliance itself.

Lucasfilm’s point, whether or not intentional, was that everything those rebels worked for, everything literally fought and died for, was based on a shred of hope that the empire’s most dangerous weapon could be destroyed, and they could take down the empire and help the galaxy to be free of oppression.

My edit

Say what you will about the Empire’s ability to allocate resources and provide a system of order: it was a corrupt institution, run by corrupt people. The Empire didn’t care about what happened to the people it ruled over: it took what it wanted and punished those who disagreed with it. It controlled through the fear of force. Twenty years after the end of the Clone Wars, the Empire had finished constructing a superweapon that could obliterate entire planets. Now the Empire could not only punish dissent but destroy billions of innocent lives at the same time just to make a point.

“If the Empire has this kind of power, then what chance do we have?”

The Rebel Alliance council? They backed out because the odds of success were so slim. And because the Empire could do whatever they wanted. They didn’t have any way to compete with the Death Star. Not enough weapons. Not enough resources. Not realistic.

“We have hope,” says Jyn Erso. “Rebellions are built on hope.”

Cassian Andor had told Jyn the exact same thing when they were on Jedha trying to get a hold of Saw Gerrera. In her experience, there wasn’t really much reason to have hope, because she never had anyone in her life that she could count on to come through for her. Anything she hoped for never worked out. In spite of whatever efforts she made to have a life for herself, everything always went wrong. So she was kind of surprised to hear Cassian say that the Rebel Alliance operated merely on the hope that their contacts would come through for them.
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But what convinced Jyn otherwise? Seeing Chirrut Imwe stand up to a bunch of stormtroopers with just the Force and a walking stick helped her to see that anything was possible. Seeing Jedha destroyed by the Death Star had convinced her that she couldn’t turn a blind eye to the Empire’s atrocities any longer. And the hologram message from her father had given her the hint that, powerful though it was, the Death Star had a fatal flaw that could be exploited. Her father had only worked on the Death Star on the hope that by doing so he could keep Jyn safe and undermine the system he hated so much. He had built the flaw in the reactor. He knew that so much power in the hands of the Empire was wrong. And he knew that Jyn would understand that idea.

The Empire had troops and fighters and ships and endless resources. They had a weapon that could obliterate entire planets in seconds, and it was heavily protected so that attacking it would be futile. Being realistic, the Rebellion didn’t stand a chance. But Jyn and Cassian went ahead and got a team together to steal the Death Star plans from the heavily-fortified archive on Scarif because they knew that somewhere in those plans there was a key to destroying the Death Star and striking a blow against the Empire. If they could steal the plans and find the design flaw, then they had a chance to do something. At every step during the battle, everything could have gone wrong. Every main character--Jyn, Cassian, K2S0, Bodhi, Chirrut, Baze--had to find the hope to take the next step without the guarantee that they would succeed--without the assurance that they would live to see their effort rewarded.

“Do you think anyone is listening?”

The Battle of Scarif was actually a huge decision point for the Rebellion: either they took the opportunity to do something about the injustices of the Empire, or they just walked away. And when a small group of rebels decided that something needed to be done, there was no turning back.

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Sometimes winning a real victory is not about how many guns and ships you have. It’s about using your brains. And your heart.

“We will take the next chance and the next, until we win or the chances are spent.”

The fundamental thing is, rebellions are about hope. Hope that an unjust government CAN be overthrown. Hope that improving the system will bring provide life, liberty, and happiness for others. Hope that the risks to get those freedoms are worth it. Rogue One is a film about the sacrifices that heroes in a war-torn galaxy made so that hope could be possible.

ROGUE ONE Fan Art Celebrates Everyone’s Favorite New Star Wars Character | Geek and Sundry:
Geek n' Sundry, via Pinterest

In real life, when it seems like everything goes wrong, it can seem more logical to think that there is no point making an effort to better your lot, because it won’t work out. But when you do whatever it takes to reach your goals, the little things day after day, your hope can become a reality, even if it takes shape slowly.

Whenever you see an opportunity to do something, to make a difference, to change the way things happen, take it. Do what needs to be done even if your chances of failing are astronomical. Take action or else your enemies will win. As a great Jedi master once said, “Do or do not. There is no try.” Either you take action or you don’t. The ability to act is in your control. To attempt the thing is to DO the thing. But you have to believe that your effort will be what is needed.

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Sometimes hope is a lot less substantial than a message from your dad informing you of a reactor flaw and a thermal exhaust port. And sometimes you know that the odds of you getting whatever you’re hoping will happen are a lot steeper than someone being able to actually hit a two-meter exhaust port with a missle.

But it’s okay to hope that things will turn out for the better. Because it’s not unreasonable that they will. You don’t have any reason to believe that you’re going to fail. Your life can be as happy and rewarding as you want it to be. It IS within the realm of possibility. Even when the rest of the world is collapsing, there is still reason to have hope that things will be all right--that you will be all right.

When the time comes and you have the chance to make a difference, seize it. Even if you fail. Even if you lose. Even if you die, it's worth it.

Jyn and Cassian, Rogue One:

Have courage.

Have hope.