In the collective imagination, the most admirable and virtuous person is one who can put others before himself. It is a "hero" who is willing to sacrifice himself to save another’s life.
It is not unusual - as some rather pessimistic people may think- that the movie film industry represents the beauty of giving and sacrificing oneself, to the point of even offering one's life, for the good of those one loves. Sure, Hollywood pictures it more often in animated films or in war films than in everyday life.
We at Family and Media would like to suggest some classics to you that you might dust off and enjoy together with your children to reflect with them on the virtue of generosity...
1. The Lion King: a father does not hesitate to sacrifice his life to save his son
This Disney animated film, directed by Rob Minkoff and Roger Allers, was released in 1994.
An old but classic movie, whose protagonist is Simba, a lion cub, son of the king of the Savanna, Mufasa and his wife, Sarabi.
Simba is destined to become king, but Mufasa's brother Scar, who would like to inherit the throne instead of Simba, resents him for this. And so, he sets a trap for the little cub.
In an effort to save his son's life, Mufasa sacrifices himself. We are talking about one of the most famous and touching scenes in the history of cinema.
Mufasa's death, painful, poignant, difficult to accept - not only for the protagonist, but also for all the young viewers - will not be in vain, because Mufasa's courage, strength of mind, and righteousness will follow little Simba for the rest of his life and make him a great king, just like his father...
2. Beauty and the Beast: a daughter sacrifices her freedom to save her father
In this Disney cartoon of 1991, directed by Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise, there is a daughter who "sacrifices" herself to save her father.
Mr. Maurice accidentally ends up in the castle of a prince who, years ago, was the victim of a spell: a fairy turned him into a beast as punishment for his arrogance and rudeness.
Belle asks the beast to imprison her in her father's place.
A great sacrifice, yes, but it will not be in vain. The girl will not only save her father, but also the prince. During the time of her imprisonment, Belle will deeply touch that prince’s ugly heart...
One of the most beautiful films that shows how love generates love and that redemption is possible for everyone.
3. The Chronicles of Narnia - The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe : who is greater gives more
This Disney movie from 2005 was directed by Andrew Adamson.
The kingdom of Narnia, once thriving under the rule of the wise lion King Aslan, has been taken over by the terrible rule of the White Witch, who brought frost to the kingdom. No creature lives in the sunlight anymore, and they are made into "her slaves."
Four human siblings find themselves in that fantastical world, mysteriously passing through a wardrobe, and are given the task of defeating the witch... Aslan himself meets, accompanies, and encourages these siblings to fulfil their mission. One of the brothers, Edmund, however, becomes tainted with betrayal and, according to the laws of Narnia, must pay for his duplicity with his life. Yet Aslan, perfectly innocent, sacrifices himself and dies in his place. He is killed by the witch and her henchmen on an altar. The reference to Christ's sacrifice on the Cross, who dies as an innocent man to save the man who has fallen into sin, is quite explicit and the film as a whole refers to a Christian way of life. This scene reminds us that the greatest is the one who knows how to give... and that it is worth sacrificing oneself for love. Aslan's life does not end in death: like every death, in fact, it has its resurrection...
4. Maleficient 2 - Mistress of Evil: If giving up your life for love bears more fruit than killing the wicked
In this 2019 Disney film directed by Joachim Rønning, Princess Aurora and Prince Philip, historical fairy tale lovers from Sleeping Beauty begin to plan the wedding, but there is bad blood between their families. The prince's parents (King John and Queen Ingrith) hate Malefica, Aurora's godmother and guardian.
As a result of many unpleasant events, a war breaks out between the two kingdoms. In Maleficent, redeemed in the first film (Maleficent, 2014) the poison of hatred is rekindled, destined, however, to bring only more evil. It is love, in fact, that brings about real change.
Aurora summarizes this message at the end of the film, when, seeing Maleficent blinded by rage, intent on killing the Queen, she blocks her and says: "I know you. This is not who you are. There is another way...".
At that moment, Malefica's gaze changes. She softens. She believes her “daughter’s” words and renounces her intention to seek revenge. And shortly thereafter, instead of taking the Queen's life, she will come to give her own, in order to save Aurora. Not even she, just as Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia, will remain under the power of death very long...
On the contrary, the ending of the film shows us that by offering life rather than taking it away, one is only seemingly a victim: one actually becomes heir to a new world.
"A person's value lies in what he is capable of giving and not in what he is capable of taking," said scientist Albert Einstein.
We have thought about these four movies to remind children that the bigger person is the one who can offer the most he can to others. Do you have other movie recommendations to suggest for the next article?