Social distancing has become the new normal and for all of us, and that means not being able to go to the movie theater. Thanks to modern technology, there are hundreds of movies available via streaming services, making it possible to bring the magic of the movie theater into your own home.
Disney’s own streaming service, Disney+, launched Nov. 12, 2019, includes titles from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilms and National Geographic. With any streaming service, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the plethora of titles. That being said, here are some options that offer underlying Christian themes.
‘Secrets of Christ’s Tomb’
This documentary from National Geographicdetails the renovation of the aedicule inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which houses the tomb of Jesus. Amidst the renovation, scientists uncover if this was truly the place where Jesus was laid to rest, merging science and religion. The truth of this site is questioned but no matter the outcome, it doesn’t change the truth of the Church.
‘Into the Grand Canyon’
Also by National Geographic, this story highlights the beauty that comes from suffering. The documentary follows two journalists as they brave the Grand Canyon, hiking it from end to end. Through daily struggles and sufferings, they uncover what would be lost if the canyon wouldn’t be protected as it is today. This film is a parallel to the Christian life, which is full of little sufferings that amount to more beauty than if the suffering wasn’t there.
‘Beauty and the Beast’ (1991)
The 1991 film, is a classic tale of beauty being in the eye of the beholder. Belle teaches us to see the beauty of the soul instead of outward appearance and she takes the place of her father in the Beast’s dungeon. We probably won’t get the opportunity to sacrifice ourselves to this extent, but we can surely learn from Belle and leave that last cookie for our sibling instead of eating it ourselves or doing the dishes after dinner, in order to show a little sacrificial love.
‘Frank and Ollie’
This documentary of two beloved Disney animators who worked on classic films such as “The Jungle Book,” “101 Dalmations” and “Bambi,” acts as a tribute to these two men who brought happiness to millions because of the characters they created. The joy that Frank and Ollie have for animation is contagious and is a reminder that we find joy when we share the gifts that God gave each of us with others.
This 1992 musical, follows a group of boys in New York City who deliver newspapers and undergo hardships together. With each trial they face, they never stop singing and dancing and finding joy amidst their situation. The children stick together in order to bring about change and to show their superiors that they deserve to not be overworked. This film harkens back to the life and dignity of the human person.
An orphan moves to a small town and lives with her aunt. Many of the townspeople have difficulty finding joy in everyday life. Pollyanna shakes things up when she arrives with a sunny attitude and when she always finds something to be glad about. Even in the midst of trial, Pollyanna teaches her aunt and others to find joy in the simpler things in life and to treat each day as a gift.
‘The Lion King’ (1994)
This modern classic follows Simba as he’s tempted by his uncle, Scar to run away from his home and cast aside his responsibilities. It’s not until Simba realizes that his father lives inside of him that he finds the courage to go back home and regain what he’s lost. There are moments of darkness and light in this film that remind us of the darkness and light of spiritual warfare. Through Simba, we’re reminded that Jesus lives inside of us and that we are His instruments.
‘The Sound of Music’
We probably all know the songs from this musical by heart, even if we’ve never seen the movie. It follows Maria, a novice who has been given the assignment of being a governess to seven children. She teaches the children how to play and sing while struggling to uncover the vocation that God is leading her to. Maria learns that the vocation God has for her will bring about the greatest joy and happiness in her life.
‘The Chronicles of Narnia’
Based off of C.S. Lewis’ novel “The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe,” this film parallels the passion and resurrection of Jesus. The film follows siblings who stumble upon a wardrobe that leads them to the enchanted world of Narnia. There, they learn of the darkness the witch has cast upon the land. When Peter, one of the siblings, gets wrapped up in the witch’s lies, the lion sacrifices himself for Peter. This heart wrenching tale hits close to home and pulls on the heartstrings of all who recognize how much Jesus has suffered for all of us.
This Pixar films tells the story of Miguel who has the dream of being a professional guitarist, but his family has other dreams for him: they want him to be a shoemaker like everyone else in his family. On Día de Muertos, Miguel is connected to his deceased family more than he ever has been before. This heartwarming tale is a visual reminder of the Body of Christ, that all of us living and dead are connected through Jesus. It’s a reminder of the saints and angels in heaven looking over us who join us at every Mass.
Walt Disney’s second film ever made, this timeless classic follows a puppet as he aspires to be a real boy. Pinocchio learns that lying is never the answer and finds true happiness when he’s honest and when he goes where Jiminy Cricket, his conscience leads him. Not only is this a reminder of the importance of honesty, but it’s a reminder of what the holy spirit can do in our lives once we give Him freedom to work and move in us.