“What is your center?” A whimsical fairytale that evokes “The Avengers,” “Rise of the Guardians” is an animated film that outlines so many personal struggles we may endure. Although it may come off as childish and tacky, Bilge Ebiri, a writer from Vulture, says that the movie captures “just enough genuine childhood wonder in its whooshing, high-tech theatrics to make it a delight.” Inspired by William Joyce’s book series “Guardians of Childhood,” the movie may be targeted toward children, but, as noted by movie critic Roger Ebert, we can all learn a lesson or two from it.
In “Rise of the Guardians,” we are introduced to Jack Frost (Chris Pine), the Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman), Santa Claus (Alec Baldwin), the Sandman (who can’t talk) and the Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher), who make up the Guardians. Jack Frost is the newest guardian, expected to watch over children, and the main storyline is about Jack Frost finding his way. However, with the evil boogeyman Pitch (Jude Law) threatening to take over the world, the Guardians have to work together to defeat him.
Whether it is bad timing or bad writing, a lot of hate is directed toward this movie, and I think it deserves a chance to explain itself. For Ebert, Jack Frost reminded him of Peter Pan: innocent, playful and self-absorbed. But there are many other themes presented throughout the movie, and it holds so many more deep ideas. Here are a few thoughts I had while watching one of my favorite Christmas films.
Identity & Purpose
During the movie, we see Jack Frost searching for who he really is. Identity is such an important aspect of our lives, as it helps us define who we are and what we do. In the midst of everything that goes on in Jack’s life, Jack is tempted by Pitch to deceive his fellow Guardians in order to find out who he is. By abandoning the others, Jack falls under the impression that searching for his past will help him find the future, but in the end, he learns that despite his past, it’s his personality and confidence that will motivate him to keep going.
With the power to turn dreams into nightmares and the ability to sense what others fear, Pitch approaches those he deems weak. After seeing Jack’s confusion and fear, Pitch attempts to pull him into his devious plan to dishearten all the children. He knows that Jack’s fear is to never be believed in, resulting in him being forever invisible. So Pitch, who is also invisible, says that as another disbelieved character, he understands him, and encourages Jack to join forces with him.
Innocence (Believing Is Easy for the Young)
One thing I was jealous of as I watched the movie was the pure innocence of children. The magical power that Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Sandman and the Tooth Fairy have is only possible because of the children who believe in them. At one point in the movie, Pitch has disheartened almost all the children in the world, and the Guardians — except Jack Frost — lose their powers. However, when Pitch tries to attack the Guardians, Jack encourages one child to believe, and in the blink of an eye, the Guardians regain their powers. It is also by the innocence of children that Pitch is defeated, thus revealing its true power.
Faith, Trust and Believing in Us
In the end, the movie implies that by having the courage to trust in something or someone, we can overcome anything. From the beginning, Pitch tries to defeat everything the Guardians have worked for; he is what the world might call a bully — but isn’t the world full of bullies? In order to fight those bullies, we need to trust and believe that when we work together, without letting fear or temptation get in the way, anything can be conquered.
In the final battle between Pitch and the Guardians, Jack brings a child who tells him that he’s scared. Jack then learns that in order to win, he needs to be true to himself and replies, “We’re gonna have some fun instead.” With the confidence and playfulness Jack always had, the Guardians and the children are able to work in harmony to defeat Pitch.
I think this movie is so great because it touches on so many personal struggles we face. It helps us learn that although life may sometimes feel hard and lonely, with confidence, trust and support in ourselves and in others, we can all have our happy endings. “As long as one child believes, we will always be here.”