In a world where traditions and beliefs are very likely being exchanged for cartoons, video games and social network, a reminder of the importance of beliefs and imagination is due, and not only for children, although our system of beliefs is built in childhood, but also for adults, who can still modify or improve their way of thinking. Rise of the Guardians tells the story of five Guardians from popular children tales, who posses extraordinary abilities according to the tale each one belongs to. When the evil spirit Pitch attacks with the intention of covering the world with fear, they set up on a quest to defend the beliefs, hopes and imagination of the children from all over the world. By taking examples from the film I will attempt to explain what could be the power of belief and where does it come from, based in different themes that are exposed within the movie: the role of dreams and desires and what they could represent, I will also make mention of the talent that help us to work on them, the fear as an obstacle of our own development, and how by trusting in certain beliefs we can overcome difficulties, with the continual guidance of the great leader.
The film starts with Jack Frost emerging from a frozen lake, telling about the darkness and coldness he felt before looking at the moon, then, while being elevated over the lake, he feels free from his fear and starts to question himself: Why he was there and what was he meant to do? Wondering if he would ever know. These questions can be related to ideas of ‘destiny’ and ‘transcendence’, if we take the former as the path we are here to follow, the series of actions that will give sense to our existence, and the latter as the consequences, and sometimes even the reward, of those actions. However, sometimes it gets difficult to know what to do or how to start because, who can tell what your destiny is? and even more, how to transcend yourself in this world? perhaps not even like the heroes of Greek poems, but to leave a mark, to make a difference, to do something for other people.
A way of understanding these ideas would be to set ‘destiny’ as the reflection of our dreams, goals and desires, and how we see ourselves going through this life, believing that we have an ultimate purpose and that by completing it, we would feel satisfaction, we would be acknowledged and therefore ‘transcend’ ourselves. For, what could feel closer to a successful way of living, if not doing what you like and accomplishing your dreams? and even more getting the sense that what you did made some good to others. Jack, didn’t know what was his destiny, he had to discover first who he was to understand what he was meant –and liked– to do. Once you have a glimpse of who you are, then you can start feeding your goals and dreams. Considering this, `destiny’ is something that we construct along the way with our actions and thoughts, the representation of who we are, what we do and the decisions we make, become our destiny. Jack Frost made these questions without having an immediate answer, he had to remain on Earth, unseen and unknown, through many years, doing what he liked the most with the help of his powers: calling storms, bending wind and snow to his will and playing around with kids, giving them fun on snow days.
The time comes for Jack Frost to start discovering the answer to his previous questions, and even better, for him to get on the road of achieving what he desired the most: to be seen and believed in. When Pitch attacks, the 4 Guardians look for Jack to explain that the moon chose him to be the new Guardian and that his job would be to take care of the children around the world and help them defeat Pitch. Jack not only rejects the idea of being a Guardian, but also declares that he is not qualified for that position. Santa Claus, who is a chief figure among the group, points out to him that the explanation of why he was chosen might be in his ‘Centre’. According to Santa, the Centre is the deepest quality that defines us, that gives us something special that we can use for a better purpose. This idea may be called also, our talent, the quality that makes us exceptional in something and almost unique.
Many of us look for this talent to develop jobs or activities and to pursue our greatest dreams. Sometimes this talent is hidden and we hope that someone can come along and tell us where or how to find it. Following the explanation of Santa, this talent is within, for it is the fuel of their actions and gives form to the way each of them think, given them a personality. Therefore it is part of our internal research to discover what our talents are, and it is in our power that once we know it, we develop it into further skills and put them into action, by doing those things that we like while pursuing our greatest goals. Like Jack, only when we look within ourselves and in our history, is that the talent may reveal to us.
On the process of our inner discoveries, it may be common to find ourselves fighting with our own fears. In the movie, Pitch, also known as the Boogeyman, represents those fears and his main goal, is to make himself present and ‘believed in‘ by destroying all the beliefs that contradict or threaten his existence. The fear that is shown in the film is also fed, by those feelings that Pitch holds like resentment, solitude, abandonment, anger, revenge and ambition. We are all vulnerable of holding those feelings in our minds, out of certain circumstances as facing problems in our daily lives or when we question ourselves, our potential or our capacity to achieve our desires. The film shows that fear can spread among all our thoughts, infecting our ability of resilience and weaken us to our very core, if it is not faced head on.
The infection of fear is completely in the mind of the children, taking them into a state of disappointment, sadness, and hopelessness, which in the end leads them to a less capacity of enjoyment, bringing them a lack of desire and strength. When Jamie, one of the kids in the story, resists to lose his beliefs and faces fear, Pitch is defeated. As the fear itself, this fight is not physical, but of awareness, Jamie is able to recognise that he believes in the boogeyman, but he is not longer afraid of him. Meaning, that even if fear does exist, it is in him to decide whether to live his life through it or to act above it. Therefore fear is part of ourselves, and we can acknowledge it just to be aware of those things that we think are obstacles and gather the courage to pass over them. Alike Jamie stopping fear, it only takes one movement from us to stop or reject does thoughts so we can see bright lights again.
The Guardians are the characters who protect not only the physicality of children, but their minds, by protecting the essence of beliefs they represent. Interesting is, that each one of these characteristics, are taught to us when we are infants, and with luck, they stick around beyond our adulthood. Based in the following descriptions we might also called them values, for this beliefs can be of great help in the moments of necessary resilience while walking towards our goals or simply for enjoying life.
Santa (aka in the movie as North) represents wonder, the feeling that everything has something special. He sees beyond each object or being, and discovers the most beautiful qualities in them, he has the ability to surprise and be surprised. To see life in this way is to be open to the possibilities that exist around us, and to try to see beyond any of our expectations, to be daring and joyful, not ignorant of things, but discoverers of the treasures that exist in our lives. With these qualities is easier to be creative in any kind of situation, and always find a way to get and create our own wishes and craziest ideas.
The Easter Bunny is the representation of hope and new beginnings, being the latter the moment when we look to the future again with energy and courage, and the former the feeling that keep us standing up with the strength to walk forward again. Whenever things may get a little difficult to have the fortitude and resolution to try again with renewed energy. Also, to be able to let go of the cycles that have ended and look forward with hope for the new surprises in life.
The Tooth Fairy is the keeper of our memories, those significant experiences in our childhood that mould our personality and can register who we are, from our core, through thoughts and actions. Who we were leaves track of who we are and who we can be. This representation of the memories teach us not to hang on the past, but to learn from it and to know that it will always be there to remind us of what is important for us and within us.
Sandyman is the pure expression of creation through thoughts, and he is not only the provider of good thoughts and dreams, he is himself created out of those positive thoughts that he protects. Which can mean that each and every one of us are those beautiful dreams, and just as he does, by thinking and believing in them, is how they become real.
Finally, Jack Frost is the bearer of fun. Through his character as the fun side of the winter, he teaches us that behind every difficult and dangerous situation, smiles and fun can ease our hearts and makes us see circumstances without apprehension and fear, and therefore to find a solution to any obstacle with joy.
Each of these attitudes towards life are intrinsic products of the mind, and can be as frequent or as scarce as we decide. By believing these characteristics live within us, we become the Guardians of our own happiness.
Through the process to answering who we are, what we are meant to do and how to do it, it may be frequent to ask ourselves if there is someone greater than us who can lead us or mark our way, someone we can turn to and ask our doubts. In the film, the moon is the being that leads the Guardians, and without words he communicates with them, showing them by images and experiences the path they should follow. Coming back to the moment when Jack Frost is informed that he has been chosen by the moon as a Guardian, we may interpret that he was chosen because he had the talent to become a Guardian, however, in a later sequence, when he is looking at his past, and knowing that he saved his sister from an accident by ‘having a little fun’ he realises that he is already a Guardian, therefore the moon didn’t choose him to be a Guardian, just lead him to fulfil a role that he already was.
This figure of the moon may be transported to our inner selves, that voice that is not very clear, and yet tells us what to do, the great consciousness that lives within us and holds our most inner secrets. We may ask him all those questions that torment us and expect and immediate answer, but his job is not to just give us the answer, but to lead us through experiences that will answer those questions, and even more, to help us develop those potentials that we don’t believe or know we have. This great consciousness is our leader, our faithful companion, the presence that is at all moments aware of our existence and that knows our destinies because it knows us thoroughly.
Jack Frost had to go through several tests in this adventure to finally acknowledge he was a Guardian, that he was there to protect children and that he was supposed to show them how to have fun even in the most difficult times. His duty, just as for the rest of the Guardians, were to protect the minds of the children, because his teachings would survive with belief. As we saw throughout this movie believing in something gives us the power to go through any challenge and that belief, that power, rests in each one’s mind.
In my point of view, Rise of the Guardians is a film for children also suitable for adults, who like the main characters are questioning themselves and looking for a path to follow, with the same possibilities of having fear and finding obstacles along the way. The difference relies in the disposition that adults can have to rely and believe in those positive values that lead to a better state of happiness, hopefulness, creativity and even innocence. To remember how valuable the world seemed when you were a child and to adopt the readiness to believe in all those forgotten values may be the key to a great adventure for ourselves and finally lead us to find the meaning of our existence. We are the Guardians of our own destinies and like Jack Frost said ‘When the moon tells you something, believe it’.