The Gospel According to Disney – life springs

One of the most well known Disney Classics is the tale of Pinocchio, the wooden boy who wanted to be real. Disney’s version is highly moral with its portrayal of Pinocchio as an innocent lad trying to do his best, but constantly deceived by the world, represented by the Fox ‘Honest John.’ Towards the end of the film, Pinocchio is tricked on board a slave ship, where he begins to turn into a Jackass, to show what a fool he has become. Just in time, Pinocchio realises his foolishness and escapes to return home to his father Geppetto. The tragedy is that his father has gone to look for him and has been swallowed by the whale Monstro. Eventually, Pinocchio finds his father and they escape by making Monstro sneeze, but in the process Pinocchio dies.

It is at this point that we reach the climax for Geppetto is grieving the loss of Pinocchio and we can all identify with his situation. As parents, we feel for him because he had waited so long for a child, and he was such a loving father, even though his Pinocchio was not perfect, being made of wood. He had done his best to teach him the right way to live and he had done everything to find him – and now he was dead.

As children, we can identify with Pinocchio and his desire to explore the world. Pinocchio is inexperienced but he is also invincible, or at least we think so, and now it’s all over. We have come to see him as a real friend and we were there with him as he heroically tried to save his father – but now he is gone.

In so many ways we share Geppetto’s loss for life is full of tragedy and guilt, missed opportunities and mistakes, when we sought to do the right thing. It is then that we look for hope and we look to God. In Pinocchio, these are given through the intervention of the blue fairy, who judges Pinocchio as having proved himself through sacrifice, and she restores him to life, but not as a wooden toy but a real boy.

In the Christian faith, we are given the hope of resurrection. God raised Jesus from death and exalted him to the throne of heaven. By faith in him, we share that same hope. Paul says, ‘our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us,’ when we are raised with him and given new bodies. This is not to minimize what we are experiencing, but it is to give us hope that, like Pinocchio, our present life is ‘wooden’ in comparison with the ‘real’ life that awaits us.

 John Harries (Chaplain)

Sir Thomas Boteler Church of England High School by STB