Search This Blog

Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Legion of Mary...

is a Catholic Lay Organization  with the object of bringing about the glory of God through the holiness of its members developed by prayer and active co-operation in Mary’s and the Church’s work. I have been a member since I was age 7, and the following is an assortment of prayers and songs from that tradition which are utilized at their meetings.


(Make the Sign of the Cross) In the name of the Father, etc.
Come, O Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Your faithful, and enkindle in them the fire of Your love. v. Send forth Your Spirit, O Lord, and they shall be created. R. And You shall renew the face of the earth.

Let us pray.

God our Father, pour out the gifts of Your Holy Spirit on the world. You sent the Spirit on Your Church to begin the teaching of the gospel: now let the Spirit continue to work in the world through the hearts of all who believe. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

v. You, O Lord, will open my lips. R. And my tongue shall announce Your praise. v. Incline unto my aid, O God. R. O Lord, make haste to help me. v. Glory be to the Father, etc. R. As it was in the beginning, etc.

Then follow five decades of the Rosary with the Hail, Holy Queen.

Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy; hail, our life, our sweetness and our hope. To you we cry, poor banished children of Eve, to you we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn then, O most gracious advocate, your eyes of mercy towards us, and after this our exile, show us the blessed fruit of your womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.

v. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God. R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray. O God, Whose only-begotten Son, by His life, death and resurrection, has purchased for us the rewards of eternal salvation; grant, we beseech You, that meditating upon these mysteries in the most holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may imitate what they contain, and obtain what they promise. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

v. Most Sacred Heart of Jesus R. Have mercy on us. v. Immaculate Heart of Mary R. Pray for us. v. St. Joseph R. Pray for us. v. St John the Evangelist R. Pray for us. v. St. Louis-Marie deMontfort R. Pray for us.

Make the Sign of the Cross) In the name of the Father, etc.


Antiphon. Who is she that comes forth as the morning rising, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army set in battle array?

(Make the Sign of the Cross) v. My soul glorifies the Lord.* R. My spirit rejoices in God, my Saviour. v. He looks on His servant in her lowliness;* henceforth all ages will call me blessed.
R. The Almighty works marvels for me.* Holy His name! v. His mercy is from age to age,* on those who fear Him.

R. He puts forth His arm in strength* and scatters the proud-hearted. v. He casts the mighty from their thrones* and raises the lowly.

R. He fills the starving with good things,* sends the rich away empty.

v. He protects Israel His servant,* remembering His mercy, R. The mercy promised to our fathers,* to Abraham and his sons for ever.

v. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.. R. As it was in the beginning is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Antiphon. Who is she that comes forth as the morning rising, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army set in battle array?

v. O Mary, conceived without sin. R. Pray for us who have recourse to you.

Let us pray. O Lord Jesus Christ, our mediator with the Father, Who has been Pleased to appoint the Most Blessed Virgin, Your mother, to be our mother also, and our mediatrix with You, mercifully grant that whoever comes to You seeking Your favours may rejoice to receive all of them through her. Amen.


Make the Sign of the Cross) In the name of the Father, etc.

We fly to your patronage, O holy Mother of God; despise not our prayers in our necessities, but ever deliver us from all dangers, O glorious and blessed Virgin.

v. Mary Immaculate, Mediatrix of all Graces or Invocation appropriate to Praesidium) R. Pray for us.
 v. St. Michael and St. Gabriel R. Pray for us. v. All you heavenly Powers, Mary's Legion of Angels
R. Pray for us. v. St. John the Baptist R. Pray for us. v. Saints Peter and Paul R. Pray for us.

Confer, O Lord, on us, who serve beneath the standard of Mary, that fullness of faith in You and trust in her, to which it is given to conquer the world. Grant us a lively faith, animated by charity, which will enable us to perform all our actions from the motive of pure love of You, and ever to see You and serve You in our neighbor; a faith, firm and immovable as a rock, through which we shall rest tranquil and steadfast amid the crosses, toils and disappointments of life; a courageous faith which will inspire us to undertake and carry out without hesitation great things for your glory and for the salvation of souls; a faith which will be our Legion's Pillar of Fire - to lead us forth united - to kindle everywhere the fires of divine love - to enlighten those who are in darkness and in the shadow of death - to inflame those who are lukewarm - to bring back life to those who are dead in sin; and which will guide our own feet in the way of peace; so that - the battle of life over - our Legion may reassemble, without the loss of any one, in the kingdom of Your love and glory. Amen.
May the souls of our departed legionaries and the souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen.

Make the Sign of the Cross) In the name of the Father, etc.

Crowning Song

Who is this that comes forth like the dawn
As beautiful as the moon
As shining as the sun
Like a rainbow in the cloudy sky,
Like blossoms on the branches
In the springtime?
She is the mother of fair love and of fear
And of knowledge and our Holy One!
Who is this that comes forth like the dawn
As beautiful as the moon
As shining as the sun
Like a rainbow in the cloudy sky,
Like blossoms on the branches
In the springtime?
In her is all grace of the way and the truth
All hope of life and of virtue!
Who is this that comes forth like the dawn
As beautiful as the moon
As shining as the sun
Like a rainbow in the cloudy sky,
Like blossoms on the branches
In the springtime?
Hail Queen of Mercy! Protect us from the enemy
And receive us at the hour of death!
Who is this that comes forth like the dawn
As beautiful as the moon
As shining as the sun
Like a rainbow in the cloudy sky,
Like blossoms on the branches in the springtime?
Like blossoms on the branches in the springtime...

Listen to the BlessTree rendition of this hymn on BandCamp:

"Like blossoms on the branches in the springtime..."

Meditation on the Coronation of Our Lady...

from In Conversation with God, Vol. 7 by Francis Fernandez:


     Pius XII instituted this feast day in 1954 in response to the unanimous traditional belief in the Mother of the King of King and Lord of Lords as Queen. All graces come to us through the intercession of the Blessed Mother, the most accessible ruler of all. Her coronation as Queen of all Creation is intimately connected to her Assumption into heaven. We contemplate this wonderful scene in the Fifth Glorious Mystery of the Holy Rosary.

 17.1 Mary is Queen of heaven and earth 

     The Mother of Christ is glorified as as ‘Queen of the Universe’. She who called herself the ‘handmaid of the Lord’ at the Annunciation remained faithful to what this names expresses throughout her earthly life. In this she confirmed that she was a true ‘disciple’ of Christ, who strongly emphasized that his mission was one of service: The Son of Man ‘came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many’ (Matt 20:28). In this way Mary became the first of those who, ‘serving Christ also in others, with humility and patience lead their brothers and sisters to that King to serve whom is to reign’ (Lumen genitium, 36), and she fully achieves that ‘state of royal freedom’ proper to Christ’s disciples: To serve Christ is to reign with Him… Her ‘glory in serving’ is completely compatible with her royal exatation. Taken up into Heaven, she does not cease her service for the sake of our salavation. 

--John Pual II, Redemptoris Mater, 25 March 1987

     The dogma of the Assumption which we celebrated last week leads in a natural way to the feast we celebrate today, the Queenship of Mary. Our Lady departed for heaven to be crowned by the Blessed Trinity as Queen of all Creation: The Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all guilt of original sin, on the completion of her earthly sojourn, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen of the universe, that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the ‘Lord of Lords’ (Rev 19: 16), and the conqueror of sin and death. (Second Vatican Council, Lumen gentium, 59).  

     This truth has been affirmed since antiquity by the piety of the faithful, and taught by the Magisterium of the Church. St. Ephriam puts these beautiful words ont eh lips of Mary: “Let heaven hold me in its embrace, for I am more honoured than heaven since heaven was only your throne, not your mother. Of course, how much more worthy of honour and verneration than his throne is the mother of the king!”

     It has been quite popular to bestow Queenship on Mary through the custom of canonically crowning her images, with the express approval of the Popes. Since the first centuries of Chrsitian art has represented Mary as Queen and Empresss, surrounded by angels and seated on a royal throne, with all the accoutrements of such majesty. Sometiems, she is shown being crowned by her Son. The faithful have long had recourse to her as Queen through popular prayers like the Salve Regina, the Ave Regina Caelorum, and the Regina Coeli. 

    Frequently we have sought her protection, reminding her of this beautiful roayl epithet. We have pondered it in the Fifth Glorious Mystery of the Holy Rosary. Today, in our prayer and throughout the day, we will do so in a special way: You are all Fair, and without blemish. You are a garden enclosed, my sister, my Bride, an enclosed garden, a sealed fountain. ‘Veni: coronaberis…Come: You shall be crowned’ (Song of Songs 4:7, 12; 8). 

     If you and I had been able, we too would have made her Queen and Lady of all creation. 

     A great sign appeared in heaven: A woman with a crown of twelve stars upon her head, adorned with the sun, and with the moon at her feet (Rev 12:1). Mary, Virgin without stain, has made up for the fall of Eve: And she has crushed the head of hell’s serpent with her immaculate hell. Daughter of God, Mother of God, Spouse of God…The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit crown her as the rightful Empress of the Universe. And the angels pay her homage as her subjects…and the patriarchs and prophets and Apostles…and the martyrs and confessors and virgins and all the saintas…and all sinners, and you and I.  

– Escriva’, Holy Rosary

The Crowning of Our Lady as Queen of Heaven

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Once Upon a Dream: A Magical Disney Movie Montage

       In way or another, all of us have been deeply affected by the legacy of Walt Disney. Maybe we fell in love with the magical animated features as kids, or wound up visiting the mega-theme-parks in Florida or California, or perhaps bought sparkly franchise trinkets to adorn our rooms. Maybe the historical adventures in the live-action feature films got us interested in our country’s past for the first time, and the enchantment of the Disney princesses prepared us to leap into the grown-up world of fantasy and mythology. Perhaps the songs inspired us to start singing ourselves, the artwork inspired us to draw, or the stories and characters enabled us to identify with them and rise to the challenges in our own world.

     Perhaps, in some subtle way, these “childhood epics” truly defined who we would grow up to be. They have a very real magic about them. For all the faults that many of these productions may have (especially, I would say, the later ones, which occasionally muddy the moral waters), there is still some goodness about them that makes them many of them timeless. Indeed, Disney movies are often used as therapy for children with autism, down syndrome, and other health challenges, and have been able to help many express themselves and come out of their shells. The profound healing power truly of these simle little stories and songs truly makes them “a fragment of the true light”, and a blessing in disguise.

    The following is an assortment of  some of my top personal favorites among the Disney animated and live-action feature film collection. While there are a slew of others worthy of mention, and I do not claim this an any sort of definitive list, I hope you will enjoy perusing and be inspired to look up some of the flicks you may not have seen, and re-watch old favorites that you have many times before!       

    Robin Hood, the 1973 animated feature film, has undoubtedly been one of the most singularly influential movie in my life. As a little girl of 6 years old, I was instantly absorbed by the heroic story-line portraying different animals as the main characters in the classic tale. My first crush was on that clever, good-hearted, English-accented fox, and through him, my love of England sprouted and grew. The other characters were so memorable as well: Little John the Bear, Friar Tuck the Badger, Maid Marian the Vixen, Ala a Dale the Rooster, etc. etc. They were all wonderful friends brought to life through gorgeous animation, and forever associated with the many songs laced throughout, such as “Love Goes On and On”, “Robin Hood and Little John”, “A Pox on the Phony King of England”, etc. etc .! The fact that I have a shelf loaded down with Robin Hood memorabilia, including books, VHS and DVD movies, Disney puppets, lunchboxes, comic books, etc. is a testament to the life-long effect one little movie can have on a girl!  

     Sleeping Beauty, the 1959 animated feature film, was another life-changing film from my youth. Countless times as a child, I would get together with friends to put on plays and recite those wonderful, pseudo-Shakespearian lines from the film. In fact, if you asked me to do it now, I would put on my most villainous voice and quote Maleficent: “Forest of thorns shall be his tomb! Go through the skies with the plot of doom!” I would also quote the good fairy, Mistress Merryweather: “O Sword of Truth, fly swift and sure! Let evil die, and good endure!” For me, it is the quintessential fairy-tale brought the screen. I mean the music is from Tchaikovsky, and the artwork is gloriously neo-gothic in feel. “Once Upon a Dream” is still a favorite in my show-tune repertoire. And the characters are delightful: Aurora, Prince Philip, Mistress Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather, and the oh-so evilly elegant Maleficent. It really can’t be beat.  

     Pocahontas and Pocahontas II, from 1995 and 1998 respectively, are probably my favorite animated features from the Disney Renaissance. They may be historically inaccurate in many places, but I actually find them less offensive my sensibilities than many period piece mini-series that purport to be telling the truth as it happened! At least they had the heart of the stories in the right place, and tried to be fair to both the English and the Native Americans. Plus, the characters are attractive, and the side-kick characters are actually cute instead of being annoying! More than any other Disney animated production, this is a Broadway-style musical, complete with some beautiful songs such as “Just Around the River Bend”, “Colors of the Wind”, and “Where Do I Go from Here?”. Plus, I must admit a liking for John Rolfe…he’s just superior to John Smith, and it was historically accurate that she should wind up with him in the sequel…even though he didn’t really rescue her from the Tower of London! But hey, it’s all in good fun! 

     Mulan, from 1998, was another unique exploration of a broadly historical theme, and got me more than a little fascinated in Chinese culture (in addition to my previous love of Kung Fu and Sagwa!). Mulan is really the Joan of Arc of Ancient China, and her heroic decision to take her father’s place on the battlefield to drive back to invading Huns is based off of an ancient poetic saga that was just dying to be made into a motion picture. There are sections of the cartoon that are a tad crude and incongruent in mood, and the magic dragon side-kick can be a tad annoying. But still the overall storyline and animation (check out the 3-D charge sequence!) are excellent. Also the rousing theme song “Be a Man” is always a catchy aside, both in English and Chinese, as provided in the special features!

    The Great Mouse Detective, from 1986, is an adorable, little-known gem that plays out a clever spoof on Sherlock Holmes…in mouse form! Olivia, a spirited Scottish mousling, sets out to find Basil Mouse, the greatest detective in London, in hopes of rescuing her toy-maker father who has been kidnapped by the evil Professor Ratigan and his scurrilous Cockney mouse minions! Along the way, she meets the bumbling Dr. Dawson who teams up with Basicl to uncover the kidnapping…and unmask a sinister plot against the Queen on her Diamond Jubilee! All the characters were delightful, and the humor managed to achieve a spoof on Sherlock without being cynical. The only problem I really had with it was the “dancing girl” sequence in the seedy tavern, which I thought might have been a bit too suggestive for little kids. Otherwise, this is a must-see. 

    The Jungle Book, from 1967, is an entertaining romp, which may not be Kipling…but it’s a lot more fun! In fact, I would go on to say that it is quite possibly one of the “bear necessities” of any Disney list! A classic growing up tale with another elegant villain, Sheer Kahn, and a troupe of lovable sidekicks from panthers to bears to wolves to elephants, Mowgli finds the place where he really belongs among his own kind, through the intervention of an adorable village girl. Musically, this is another film that cannot be beat for catchy tunes, most notably the beloved “Bear Necessities” and “I Wanna Be Like You!.” This was the last animated feature to be made with Walt Disney’s personal touch, as he died soon after release. Indeed, it was in many ways the end of a generation.  

        The Little Mermaid, from 1989, was the grand kick-off to the Disney Renaissance, and sparkled with a charming story-line and lovable characters. While I have reservations about Ariel’s bikini, it must be admitted that Hans Christian Anderson’s original mermaid was depicted naked (check out the Mermaid of Copenhagen if you don’t believe me!), so technically Disney made an improvement! Besides, she’s not actually in a bikini the whole time…she winds up in a nice frilly dress on land, which fits her becomingly. King Trident, her long-suffering father, actually turns out to be a Christ-like figure who sacrifices himself for his daughter who sold her soul to the devil in the form of Ursula the sea-witch, all in pursuit of love with a human, Prince Eric. The loss of Ariel’s voice is also very symbolic of the loss of her soul and her self. The rescue could have been more allegorically profound that ramming into evil witch with a boat, but at least Eric gets to do something to make himself useful after all the trouble he inadvertently causes over the course of the tale!

      The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, which ran from 1988 to 1991, is an innovative and thoroughly delightful take on the original Pooh stories. As a little girl, it was one of my all-time favorite TV shows, and I still own much of the series, to watch someday with my own children! Pooh and his pals become more Americanized in this version to better suit the audience, and the mood takes on a more comic tone, as their adventures branch out in into an array of themes and story-lines, all light-hearted and warmly rendered.  Whether the subject matter is the Wild West, wishing wells, super-sleuths, falling stars, house-warming parties, or cross-country racing, this series pretty much has it all! As a side-note, I would like to say that the series is *much* superior to the later “Pooh Movies” put out by Disney, which were far too dark and emotionally heavy, distorting the character interaction and the clean style of the animation. So yeah, just stick with the series! ;-) 

     Tangled, from 2010, is a gorgeously animated modern manifestation of the classic Rapunzel story. It’s all about an adorable blonde princess with magical glowing hair, which has the power to heal and restore youth. However, a miserly old lady named Mother Gothel wants to hoard her magic, so she kidnaps her and takes her to live in a tower where no one can find her. It is only through the intervention of Flynn Rider, an unlikely hero, that she is able to find her true place and emerge into the sunlight! Blending the best of old and new artistic techniques in a 3-D production, some have hailed it as the beginning of a “neo-Renaissance” for Disney. The floating lantern sequence is especially stunning. Among the most recent “princess” films, I would definitely say its has the most originality and style, and the best plot construction.  
     Frozen, from 2013, may be the victim of an over-kill hype, but it is still a “cool” little Nordic-style frolic, in the spirit of Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Snow Queen”, if not by the letter of the book! This feature film stand out for having two princesses instead of one, and for having a unique twist on the meaning of  “true love.” Elsa makes an elegant if paranoid accidental ice queen, and Ann her sister is an adorable heroine. Kristoff, Sven, and Olaf add to the fun in the supporting cast, and while Prince Hans winds up being a different type than of character than we might have hoped for (I do my best to avoid spoilers here!), he too has an integral part to play in the plot to get the main message across. Magical animation and music score (love “Let It Go”), and the moral that true love really does win over all because, to quote Olaf, “some people are worth melting for.”  

      Brave, made in 2012, is a film with mixed reviews to its name. I must include it in this list for the glorious Scottish setting and magnificent art-work alone. Its story-line has interesting elements, involving a fiery read-haired, Scottish accented princess Merida who refuses to be wed to a man against her will, and competes in an archery contest to win her freedom. And yet the whole dynamic of having her mother turned into a bear (and back again!) kind of underwhelmed me and proved a bit confusing. Still, it had quite a few good messages to share, including the importance of understanding in a mother-daughter relationship, the value of unity and working and together, and the necessity of balancing tradition with innovation and grace with strength. It also had a very Celtic take on mystery, magic, and destiny bound up with the land. This film also has a beautiful Celtic score, with the song “Touch the Sky” sung by Julie Fowler.
     Old Yeller, from 1957, is one of Disney’s most beloved and simultaneously tear-jerking live-action features. Its about a Texan Confederate family struggling to make ends meet in the aftermath of the Civil War. The two boys, Travis and Arles, find a stray “yeller” dog, who Arles takes into his heart. Although it takes Travis a longer time to warm up to their new family member, he eventually does and “Yeller” goes on to save both their lives. He will go on to be their beloved companion and protector until tragedy strikes, and Travis must perform the most difficult act of love. A powerful story of love, sacrifice, and what it means to become a man. Excellent acting of both humans and animals, and just the right southern accents, I reckon! 

     The Parent Trap, from 1961, is a heart-warming tale of a full-scale “family reunion” when long-lost twin-sister, Sharon and Susan, rediscover each other at a summer camp and launch an ingenious plan to bring their divorced parents back together. But first they have to switch places – a mission easier said than done! While they may be identical in appearance, their personalities and habits are diametrically opposite! Meanwhile, the money-grubbing opportunist Vicky is making a pass at their father, and they launch a plan of defense to foil her schemes in the mountains of California! A terrific family film with great cast and story-line with an important message that marriage matters. It’s a blast getting to watch a “double-header” of Hailey Mills playing both the girls, and heralded by the memorable rock n’ roll song, “Let’s Get Together”. 

     Johnny Tremain, from 1957, is one of the few films set in the American Revolution which actually tries to be fair to both sides. In this way it keeps faith with the book of the same name by Esther Forbes, even though it is largely condensed. The story follows Johnny, a silversmith’s apprentice in Boston, who finds himself drawn into the revolutionary fervor sweeping the colonies. He also learns about some long-buried secrets concerning his own identity , as he struggles to rise above the difficulties of having a handicapped hand after an accident in the silversmith shop. I’m pleased to report that the redcoats were actually portrayed as human beings, including General Thomas Gage and Major John Pitcairn. The battle sequences are quite good as were the acting, plot, and costume design, plus the memorable song “Songs of Liberty.”  

     The Light in the Forest, from 1958, is a rare film set during the French and Indian War, and deftly touches on the complexities between whites and Indians on the  colonial frontier. The main character is a young white man, John Cameron Butler, who has been raised among the Lenelanape People from the time of his capture as a small boy. When the British agree to a peace with the natives, only after they surrender their white captives, John is brought back to his white family against his will. Ultimately, he finds himself pitted against his sadistic uncle as he struggles to discover his true identity and a place to belong. This is a unique movie which, like Johnny Tremain, is admirably historically accurate. Great acting, complex characters, terrific costuming and scenery, and a great finale fight scene. Loved the Lenelanape language clips used as cues for fist-fighting!  

     The Hunchback of Notre Dame, made in 1996, has a quality that surpasses most cartoons. It must have been a daunting task for the Disney team to try and recreate Victor Hugo’s classic sage of unrequited love, prejudice, and tragedy, and give it a reasonably happy ending, but they managed to do it, and do it fairly well! There are some beautiful 3-D visuals, especially during the crowd scenes (notably when Quasimodo whisks Esmeralda to safety and cries “Sanctuary!”) and the Cathedral shots (check out Esmeralda standing in the center of light being reflected from the rose window overhead). Also, while it certainly has its problems (some crude inferences, etc.), the plot was considerably improved by having Quasi be able to hear and speak, enabling him to emerge as a real and relatable character. His friendship with Esmeralda and Phoebus is touching and uplifting, and the music score underscores the theme of unconditional love, especially the beautiful solo for Esmeralda “God Help the Outcasts”.  

     The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, produced in 2005, does an admirable job of bringing C.S. Lewis’ classic fantasy story to life for whole new generations to fall in love with. Indeed, considering the painfully memorable BBC adaptation from the 80’s (“sock puppet city”), this could be called a bone fide epic! The story revolved around the four Pevensie children as they discover the magical realm of Narnia in the back of a wardrobe, and proceed to fulfill an ancient prophecy involving the return of Aslan the Lion and defeat the evil White Witch. Through it all, a profound Christian allegory retells the story of Easter. The blend of live action and CGI effectively captures the fantastic nature of the film, and the music score is deliciously evocative of the setting, especially the theme for the colossal combat between the forces of good and evil called “The Battle”.  All in all, it’s a heart-warming family film that also is shot through with powerful meaning.  

     Tales of Robin Hood, from 1951, is the live action counterpart of the carton, starring Richard Todd as R.H. A lush and lively adaptation that primarily sticks to traditional story-line with a few twists, we get to meet Robin and Marion as young lovers who were childhood sweet-hearts from the time before all the troubles started. In this one, we also get to see Marion clad in Lincoln Green tights among the Merry Men, caring for a wounded (and cranky!) Robin in Sherwood, just before King Richard returns to set everything to rights. Also loved the humorous portrayal of Friar Tuck, and the scene where he carries Robin across a river. There are also memorable musical interludes from Alan a Dale, nice archery/fencing sequences, and good character development. As one friend pointed out, while Errol Flynn’s portrayal may be the quintessential one, Todd manages to capture more of the depth and complexity of moods, as opposed to grinning all the time! Also, this version makes a point of having the Sheriff of Nottingham meet a unique doom on the draw-bridge (easy come, easy go…) 

     Mickey’s Christmas Carol, created in 1983, is a shorter feature that demonstrates how Disney’s magic touch can turn just about any classic tale into a new and delightful experience. This one, in the spirit of Robin Hood, recasts Scrooge and the others as animals, and not just any animals – but a roll-call of illustrious names including no less than Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, Jiminy Cricket, and friends! Of course we get to travel with Scrooge McDuck (yes, he’s a duck, and a hilariously Scottish one) to visit his Christmas ghosts and see just why he turned into a miserly wretch to begin with, before giving him a chance to re-enter the human (or should I say fowl?) race before it’s too late! It’s a wonderful holiday classic, perfect for the kiddies and fun-loving adults still young at heart! Note: look out for some characters from Robin Hood, who make a debut in the backdrop!  

     Maleficent, made in 2014, is one of those controversial re-make films which I really expected to hate. After all, it was messing with my favorite Disney Princess film, Sleeping Beauty. However, I must admit that, taken on its own terms, this film has a an entertaining premise, a creative plot reworking, impressive acting, and some marvelous special effects and costume/set design work. Personally, I would have just preferred they disassociated the film from the original movie altogether and made it a stand-alone with a different title. Indeed, having it still connected the previous feature made it hard to swallow at times, especially when they messed up the three fairies (made them into dumbbells!) and King Stephen (made him into an incorrigible villain). But I did find Maleficent’s back-story to be intriguing and redemption to be moving. Having her portrayed as a powerful and fearsome Celtic-style fairy defending her people and terrifying fit her well, and I was quite satisfied with how the conclusion brought the story of Aurora full-circle.  

        That Disney has managed to capture the hearts of the public for so many generations is because they have never lost their willingness to be be creative and color outside the box. They are always seeking new forms of expression and entertainment, and yet at the heart of it all, they also manage to tap into a certain level of depth and meaning that will continue to make their movies fall into the classics category. No matter their failings, and the commercialism of their merchandise, they have enabled us to wish upon a star, once upon a dream. And I for one believe that is a priceless gift to be treasured. So…what are your favorite Disney movies to share?

"Once Upon a Dream..."