Listen to your father who begot you
For the fate of humans and the fate of animals is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and humans have no advantage over the animals; for all is vanity. All go to one place; all are f rom the dust, and all turn to dust again. Who knows whether the human spirit goes upwards and the spirit of animals goes downwards to the earth?
This animated fairy tale features Mary Katherine (Amanda Seyfried) arriving in a taxi at the ramshackle country home of at Professor Bomba, her father (Jason Sudeikis). The entire house has become a laboratory in which he conducts research into the existence of invisible “little people.” Her recently deceased mother had left him because of this obsession, and the girl, calling herself M.K., is not happy about having to live with him now. Of course, she soon learns that the seemingly crazy man has been right when she is shrunk down to a tiny size and meets the dying Queen Tera (Beyonce Knowles) of the Leaf People and becomes caught up in their struggle against Mandrake (Christopher Waltz), leader of the Boggans, a people dedicated to the destruction of the forest through putrification. She is joined by a leaf warrior and a slug and a snail, a most unusual band of champions in an epic battle to save the world. Some of this is a bit silly, especially the suggestion of a romance at the end, but the animation is truly beautiful.
Young children will love M.K.’s three-legged dog Ozzie, as well as the airial battles that could have come out of Avatar. Older children and adults will appreciate the basic premise of the film stated at the beginning by the narrator: “If you look at a forest, it may seem initially that not much is going on. But if you look more closely it becomes clear that there’s a constant battle taking place between the forces of Life and the forces of Decay.”
1. What do you see as the theme of the film? Where do you see the forces of life and the forces of decay around you?
2. Why does M.K. not want to live with her father? How is he an example of a person living an unbalanced life? How might he have saved his marriage earlier?
3. How is this an example of a seemingly impossible faith? Note that a similar incident of refusal to believe is important in C.S. Lewis’s first Narnia story when Lucy’s brothers and older sister refuse to believe her story about the wardrobe leading to Narnia, and the Professor explains the nature of faith to them.
4. How are the leaf people and their enemies a good embodiment of the theme of life versus decay?
5. What seems to be the author of Ecclesiastes view of life versus decay? Pretty pessimistic, isn’t he? Note that there is a hint of resurrection in the last verse of the above quote: how does this make all the difference in our outlook on life? (Note that scientific view of the universe also leans more toward pessimism in that it sees the sun and the stars as eventually burning out.)