If you haven’t seen Into The Woods yet, I would highly recommend it. I’m sure that the live play version is much better, but I still thought the movie was enjoyable. I’m not writing a review of the movie, rather I’m writing about a part of the movie that I believe teaches a very valuable lesson about God. Now, I realize the movie theater isn’t the first place people go looking for truth, but I think there might be more to this movie than what’s on the surface, so read on if you’d like…
(Before you start you should know that there is a spoiler in this. If you haven’t seen the movie and plan to, then you might not want to keep reading. It won’t ruin the movie by any means, but I felt a warning was necessary nevertheless.)
One of the plot lines of the movie is the budding love story between Cinderella and Prince Charming. However, the story is a little bit different in this version, or at least different from what I remember. In Into The Woods, Cinderella is wearing gold, and she is much more hesitant about her feelings towards the Prince. In fact, she spends a majority of the film running and hiding from him, which doesn’t sound much like true love to me, but what do I know?
Anyway, we get the feeling early on that Prince Charming might not be the greatest guy in the world, but he’s played by Chris Pine who’s really handsome, so we decide to follow along. Per the original fairytale, Prince Charming finds Cinderella, puts the slipper on her foot, and the two are wedded at once. So far everything seems like the classic fairytale, but the movie doesn’t stop there.
The first time we see Prince Charming after his wedding, he is in the woods looking for Cinderella, whom he always seems to have a hard time finding. However, any difficulty with the search for his “true love” is quickly forgotten upon encountering the baker’s wife. It is at this point that Prince Charming begins to live up to his name. Only this time, it’s a different type of charm and one we are not keen to associate with the beloved Prince. To our dismay, the Prince uses his charm to seduce the baker’s wife, and our original doubts about his character are confirmed.
It doesn’t take Cinderella long to find out what has happened (she can talk to birds, and birds know everything), so when Prince Charming finally finds her and attempts to remind her of his love for her, she is not so keen to accept his affection. Instead, Cinderella stops and asks, “If you love me, why did you stray?” Now that’s a question I never want to be asked. What’s the right answer there?
Let’s stop for a moment and look at this from a different angle. What if God asked me that question?
It would be more than fair for him to ask, right? I have strayed. I sin every day, yet I pray to God and tell him I love him every day as well. So again I have to ask myself, if I love him, why do I stray? And honestly, I don’t think it matters how long I sit and stare at this computer screen, I don’t think I can come up with a good answer. But before I finish that thought, follow me back to the movie.
The only thing worse than Cinderella’s question is the Prince’s response. He replies, “I was raised to be charming, not sincere.” I really and truly despise that answer. And I think the reason I am so turned off by his response is because, as I apply this to my relationship with Christ I can’t help but think, is that me? I cringe at the thought, but there could be some truth to it. Am I someone who knows what to say and how to behave in order to gain the affection of God? Or do I truly love him? Those are hard questions to ask and even harder ones to answer.
I have to stop for a moment here because to be honest I feel a little silly comparing Prince Charming’s relationship with Cinderella to my relationship with God. I mean, that’s an old love story ya know. A tale as old as time, right? (I actually think that line is from Beauty and the Beast, but just go with it) While it may feel strange to make this comparison, isn’t my relationship with God a love story too? I know, I know it’s different from Cinderella, but forget about all that and hear me out.
Ephesians 2:4-5 says, “But God, being rich in mercy, BECAUSE OF THE GREAT LOVE WITH WHICH HE LOVED US, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ” Not to mention, this verse is far from being the only verse about God’s love for us. In fact, the word love is in the Bible over 500 times. I know this may sound weird, but we’re living a love story. It’s cheesy, but it’s true. Our lives are part of a greater story of God’s love for mankind, and that’s just as much of a tale as old as time as anything.
Earlier I said that I didn’t know the answer to the “why did you stray” question, but here’s the thing. I don’t think God asks us that question. He already knows why. He knows we are going to stray, but his faithfulness goes far beyond any sort of questioning as to why we fail. He doesn’t ask “If you love me, why did you stray?” Instead, he says, “If you love me, come back.” Because God’s love is unconditional. It doesn’t matter if we’re on the path or lost miles deep in the woods. He’s going to continue to love us and draw us back to him every time we stray.
But there are two sides to every love story. If God’s love is unconditional, where does that leave us? To be fair, we are incapable of loving him the same way he loves us. We are going to fail. We are going to fall short. We are going to stray. So should we even try? I have to think the answer to that question is yes. Why? Because God wants the best for us, and the best for us is love. And I believe that with love comes a desire to not stray. If you love someone, you’re not going to want to leave them. Love is looking not to the right or left, but straight towards that which you love. Love is staying on the path. And we aren’t going to succeed at staying on the path every time, but the more we try, the closer we can get to God. And the closer we can get to God, the more we get to experience love. And there is no experience greater than God’s love for us.
I wish the movie provided a character to contrast against the prince because it’s easy to see that we are not supposed to love the same way Prince Charming does, but there isn’t really a foil character. Other characters may have admirable traits, but none of them get it completely right. Really, what I’m looking for is a Jesus character, but this movie doesn’t have that. However, I think that could be intentional because maybe we are supposed to be that character. Maybe the story doesn’t end with the final credits. Maybe we are supposed to leave the movie and be the character that is missing. Maybe we are supposed to be real love.
I don’t know. It’s just a movie, and I am probably looking too far into it, but I think this is what God wanted me to see last night. I think I was supposed to find a deeper truth in the film and a deeper challenge going forward. I’m not sure. There is a lot more that can be unpacked from this idea, but I realize that I have already rambled too much. Thanks for reading this far. I hope this makes you think. God’s truth is everywhere, and he’s asking to be found. I use this writing to try to portray the joy of discovery, but you won’t really understand until you experience it yourself. I dare you to look past the everyday things around you and see what God is trying to teach you. Who knows, maybe he’ll give you something to think about.