In a world full of agenda-pushing and “dos and don’ts,” it is incredibly hard to find a movie that is a great influence on your little one. Yes, an animated film may not change the world, but showing one good example at a time can change a mindset. Recently, I’ve been watching some classics with the kids. I have to say, not everything made in the 90s has aged the best with time. There are many films that have jokes about people’s weight, demeaning attitudes towards women, and an entire plethora of non-politically correct moments.
One film that had slipped my mind was Disney’s Thumbelina (1994), and guys… it is probably THE BEST movie to rediscover!
This film is a heavy hitter of good morals mixed with relatable trials. Thumbelina is a beautiful young girl that feels alone in the world and wants nothing more than to be loved. A series of men come into her life, most with empty promises of validating her. One says she’ll be famous, one claims that she’ll be the most beautiful, one offers to make her wealthy beyond belief. Yet there’s one with no promises besides being there for Thumbelina, Prince Charming (aka the fairy prince). It does have a love-at-first-sight moment, but the trials this love is put through is what makes this a notable movie.
Thumbelina first encounters the controlling bully of a bullfrog, who just happens to be a spoiled momma’s boy. His mom steals her and together, they try to coerce her to marry the son against her will. She has no interest, yet he is consistently trying to provoke her to love him. The level of obsession and gaslighting is outrageous, but they promise to make her loved by many. Secondly, there is a backsliding beetle that seduces the girl with pleasantries. He makes remarks to soothe Thumbelina and bend her to his will as he literally swoops her away to do what he wants. No regard to her objections or goals yet casts her aside and alone at the first unwelcomed criticism of their relationship. A mouse finds her and claims to be her savior. She feeds her and guides her into the darkness where she meets the next toxic man in her path, Mr. Mole. He is blind and cares little of who she is, but yet wishes to marry her. He is wealthy and offers Thumbelina stability in exchange to domesticate her.
Overall, this film has strong objections against non-consensual/toxic love traits that so many of us struggle with even in our adult life.
It doesn’t stop there either; it gives us three examples of different types of loves that are healthy for us. The mother’s unwavering love for her daughter, despite the difficulties of raising someone who is different from the norm. The best friends (the bird), who will push himself above and beyond to help his friend be happy, despite the obstacles or pain it might cause himself. And finally, her prince, who literally accepts her entirely for who she is as well as puts forth the effort in trying for her. The girl who thought that she was alone in life finds out that she is surrounded by all of the light of love she could ever need.
This “lightness” and “darkness” are represented throughout as well. For you see, as her depression strengthens, the warmth of her love feels further away. Cold darkness of winter blankets the surroundings and the darkest hole of depression comes when she almost marries Mr. Mole. Yet staring at the flames ignites the love she has for herself in choosing not to settle for someone that doesn’t truly love her. She finds strength in the love she shares with the prince and the world seems to defrost at their feet.
This movie is highly underrated and seriously something I think any age group could benefit from.
There is so much toxic love out there and so often, we blame ourselves for it. Life is just us stumbling through the forest trying to find our way back home. Embrace the warmth of your love light around you and keep focused on what is allowing you to achieve your personal goals. The colder you feel as the darkness surrounds you, the odds are you have slipped into a mole hole or, possibly, been smitten by a seductive beetle. I hope this movie helps you or a loved one rediscover your happiness or even the light you are bringing to another little Thumbelina out there.