Brother Bear

 

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Brother Bear

Brother Bear

16MondaySep 2013

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Brother Bear is a film that expresses the trials and tribulations of nature and life in regards to death. Being a movie that is focused around the differences between mankind and nature, killing, death, and dying are major aspects of the movie. In Brother Bear there are three main human characters named Denahi, Sitka, and Kenai who are part of a tribal group settled in the mountains. Their group believes that all living things are represented by spirits. These spirits are shown through an aurora that covers the mountains. Since each living creature is created through a spirit, this suggests that upon death the spirit within the living creature will show through the aurora. During the movie, Sitka protects his brothers and gets killed by a bear. Kenai decides to take revenge and kill the bear that killed his brother. Since Kenai’s spirit is represented by a bear, he gets transformed into a bear when he kills the bear that killed his brother.

From this movie, death is portrayed as a spiritual process as well as an event from causality. People are represented by spirits and can transform into those spirits, almost like reincarnation. This shows how religious or spiritual beliefs influence an understanding of death as a process and part of nature. When Kenai got transformed into a bear, it was because of him killing the bear and some spiritual essence transforming him.

When Sitka died, it was caused by the bear killing him and his body ceasing to function.  I think that this sends a clear message about death itself because Sitka’s body ceased to function after the bear killed him, it was an event that happened right then and there.

Also, there is a problem with how this media influences our understanding of death. To adults, we see that death is universal and it occurs to all living things and may even have a spiritual note to it; however, children may be too young to understand the concept of spiritual representation and think that when they die or kill a living creature they will automatically become an animal. Here is a link for reference: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jnJDdaUQNRI. The only question I have regarding the relationship between living and dying in this movie deals with the fact that the tribe has to kill living creatures to get their food, how does this play into their respect of spiritual creatures? As far as how society deals with death and dying, yes there is some diversity shown through the movie. Kenai was extremely distraught and almost could not believe that his brother died, but the tribe was more focused on spirits, loving life, and accepting death as part of nature. In fact, they even had a ritual for dealing with the death of a tribe member. Here is another link for reference:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qzay51NJrzs. The use of language, particularly the use of anger and revenge, supported the idea that America is a death denying culture because anger showed a disbelief in death in this movie.

 

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Seven Pounds

The media portrays death and dying in various ways. A prime example is news outlets. There have been a disturbing amount of shootings in this country and every time one happens and a news outlet covers the story the focus is primarily on the shooter. News outlets love to sensationalize the story of the killer. They almost make it sound like some new television drama character. News outlets love to sensationalize the story of the killer. When the initial news of the tragedy breaks they spend so much time talking about the past of the killer and what could of led them to such a heinous act, but the fate of the numerous murdered individuals are left as an after thought. Only hours or sometimes days later during a night time vigil or memorial does a news outlet report on those that were murdered. I don’t think the news influences our understanding of death per say because that they are very cliché and superficial in the analysis and understanding of death. There is no actual going beneath the surface to take a deeper look on the death of an individual. Instead the focus on emphasizing how said the family members and mourners are and how much support they need. Although that is a very important aspect that is not the only part of dealing with death and dying.  Television shows and movies are at more liberty to try and attempt to understand death. Countless movies show us how characters deal with the loss of those close to them dying.

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The movie Seven Pounds is the epitome of facing death.  The premise of the movie is that Will Smith’s wife died when they were driving in the car and Will feels that it was completely his fault and wants to repay his debt with his life. Will Smith prepares the entire movie planning his death and what will happen to the parts of his body. He spends the whole movie determined to die but at the same time to help as many people as he can, and by the end of the movie he has helped 7 good people by giving some of them a body part that they need to live. The guilt he has from his life allows him to face a painful death with courage.

Tuesdays with Morrie

I feel like quite often, death and dying is portrayed somewhat poorly in the media. It is very common for action movies and even the news to only show the terrible, catastrophic, and gruesome deaths that happen and this is purely for entertainment. Of course these types of deaths do happen in reality but it is misleading because these obviously aren’t the only types of deaths that occur. What about other less-dramatic types of death that aren’t often showed in movies or the news? Most types of media rarely show the more non-spontaneous deaths that occur even more often in real life, such as a person battling a terminal illness. I feel like these types of deaths aren’t portrayed in the media because it may seem less exciting or entertaining, but deaths this way are very common and happen everyday.

 

One movie that comes to mind that I feel has a very accurate portrayal of death is Tuesdays With Morrie. It is centered upon a middle-aged man named Mitch, and shows what he has to go through when he finds out that his 78 year old former professor named Morrie has been diagnosed with ALS and is on the verge of dying. Mitch reflects on his past experiences with his beloved professor and tries to find time to visit him several states away as he is bombarded each and every day with his chaotic career as a sports journalist. This movie portrays death very well because not only does it show the unexpectedness of death, but it also shows how death is usually a long and drawn out process. Mitch eventually finds time to visit his former professor and makes it a routine to visit him each Tuesday. This made the movie interesting because this caused him to see the deteriorating health condition of his friend, and this made the death of Morrie much more surreal. Eventually, Mitch is informed of his friend passing away, and this made him more aware of death being inevitable and that it will in fact happen to everyone.

 

In summary, I feel like media often shows a one-sided and misleading portrayal of death, and this causes society to have a misinterpretation of death in general. Although I would say that we do live in a death denying society, movies such as Tuesdays With Morrie show the realistic side of dying and it is films like these that can help us to understand the reality of death and dying in the real world.

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Kung Fu Panda

Disney makes a lot of great movies for families. Growing up, my friends and I learned a lot from Disney films like never giving up. In fact, I think most parents relied on Disney to teach their children about life– you know, things that are awkward for adults to explain.

Like.. where do babies come from?

Like.. where do babies come from?

Anyways, Disney does a fine job demonstrating life principles and moral concepts. But, what about the idea of death?

Truthfully, Disney is not the greatest presenter of death. Most beloved Disney movies have violent depictions of death. These movie titles include: The Lion King, The Little Mermaid, Bambi, Tarzan, and The Incredibles. In Tarzan, for example, the villian Clayton entangles himself in a mass of vines in an attempt to kill Tarzan for thwarting his plans. Clayton slashes away mindlessly with a machete to free himself. Unknowingly, a vine ropes around his neck like a noose and kills him. His hanging body could be seen swaying as a shadow against a tree. Such image misleads children to believe that all death is horrific. The fact that Clayton’s death is covered up and shown as a shadow conveys the idea that death is taboo and it should not be embraced. The images support the idea that America is a “death denying culture”.

But death should not be seen as scary. And not all deaths occur as tragic accidents (unless you are in a Final Destination movie).

A kid-friendly movie which depicts death in a more helpful way is Kung Fu Panda (Sorry, Disney fans.)

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In the movie, the death of the wise Master Oogway (it means “tortoise” in Chinese) is metaphorically represented, which opposes other literal approaches. In the scene, Master Oogway announces, “My time has come”, which shows a personal acceptance of his fate. This acceptance shows the younger audience that death will happen to everybody and that it should be embraced.

Master Oogway used the peach seed as a metaphor for the cycle of life and the eventual coming of death. One can not force the peach seed to grow on its own; likewise, you cannot force death to stop, because it is not something you can control.

Before Master Oogway ascends in the form of flower petals, he gives Master Shi Fu  his cane. This represents the leaving of physical materials once one dies (Fun fact: “Shi Fu” means, “master” in Chinese, so his name is “Master Master”!) The movie shows death to be peaceful. Although it is not a clear physical explanation of death, the emotional approach to death is well-explained here.

Do you think cartoon films with dramatic deaths are better for kids? Or do you think the ideal, normal types of death would be more beneficial for children? Maybe neither? Tell me why!

Here is the clip of Master Oogway’s gentle passing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lE1_q754Xxk

Blog 1: True Blood

The death of a main character is always hard for its fans to bear. However, in some instances death doesn’t always mean that the person is gone forever. The scene that you see above is from the series True Blood. In this scene, we see one of the main characters, named Sooki, being held at gunpoint by an intruder. As a shot goes off Sooki’s best friend, Tara, tries to push Sooki away and gets shot in the process. For those of you who don’t know, True Blood is set in a world full of Vampires, Werewolves, and other magical creatures. Because Sooki doesn’t want to lose her friend, she begs a vampire by the name of Pam to turn Tara into a vampire. In this process a person loses their human life and is essentially dead (cold skin, no heartbeat, and no blood circulation), but gains an eternal life — in which a vampire can only die ‘the true death’ if they are burned with fire, walk into the daylight, or staked with a piece of wood. By turning into a vampire, Tara, by the Cardiac Definition of Death is dead.

However, this show revolves around people dying and coming back, as well as people turning into vampires and being able to stay with their loved ones. In this show death is hardly the finale that we think of in today’s society. There are people who believe in afterlives, however once a person loses their circulatory function and their heart stops, they are no longer able to continue to have a life even remotely similar to the one they have left behind. In contrast, True Blood characters have that ability to continue to live their lives after they have been turned, even though it’s a life of the night. This portrayal of death is extremely misleading. In real life no one can choose to have an eternal, earthly life; A person only has a limited amount of time on this earth.

I think this scene is a perfect representation of how alot of people want to hold on to their loved ones for as long as they can. Tara has had bad experiences with vampires and has a strong dislike for them. In the following episode she expresses how she would have rather died a human and doesn’t want to be a vampire. Sooki knew this before hand, and for her own selfish reasons begged for Pam to turn Tara into a Vampire. Sooki didn’t want to live without her friend and made that decision for her. We could also connect this scenario to a person on life support. Sooki wants Tara to stay alive and stay on life support — Tara on the opposing side and her unexpressed wishes to be taken off of life support. This is a recurring problem in America. Loved ones wanting what’s best for them and not what’s best for the person involved. All of these points leave me to believe that America breathes a death denying culture. We have a hard time letting go of people who have passed on (gone to a better place, croaked, died, etc), and in the process we may overlook very important wishes of the person who is most in need.

Oogway Ascends

The clip I decided to write about was from the very popular childrens movie Kong Fu Panda. The scene from this movie that I felt fits this promt was the death of Master Oogway. In this movie, Master Oogway is the seemingly ancient teacher who is as wise as he is old and maybe just as crazy. In this specific scene, the mater takes his student to the tree of knowledge where he explains to him that he can no longer help his student at his greatest time of need. The student looks scared and confused about what his master is telling him but before his questions can be answered Master Oogway’s body seems to drift away in the wind of leaves, the glow of the stars and moon, and a kind loving smile. Combined with dramatic music, this is a very powerful scene especially for a children’s movie. However, I think the creators did one of the best ways to explain death to children of young ages. I say this because although a beautiful scene it is still hard to watch such a lovable character leave.

This is especially useful for children because Master Oogway is an elderly character and for most children their first experience with death will probably be a lost grandparent. This is the first lesson a child can learn from this scene is that age and death are connected very closely related. The second lesson that a child can learn from this scene is that death can be a very beautiful peaceful passing as if drifting away into the wind when dealing with old age. Lastly, although a death can be confusing and sad, it is important to remember that you will always have your loved ones by the lessons they taught you or by looking up to the stars.

I felt this portrayal was a very useful tool to explain the death of a grandparent to a child without being too misleading or unclear. In a way, this scene influences our understanding of death to believe that death can beautiful if the person lived a very fulfilling life and to portray the values taught by those who passed on before us. The language of this scene does support the idea that America is “death denying culture”; however, this is suited towards a child audience.

Titanic

“Come back, come back.” Those are words that many people will remember after watching one of history’s most iconic movies, Titanic. The scene of which Jack dies ended up being one of the most emotionally powerful death scenes ever portrayed in a movie. Now, there are multiple reasons for this such as the sheer emotion shown by Rose, and the importance of the event in which it happened due to. 

Death in Titanic isn’t something surprising. Left and right, people are losing their lives one way or another whether it be due to the temperature, falling or blunt force trauma from collapse. But, the death of Jack wasn’t portrayed as ‘just another’ death in the film or in the Titanic event; it was portrayed as a climax in the movie and an important signification of the end for the movie. His death was not portrayed as viciously as others, such as the one shown jumping from the rear of the ship and colliding with the propellers. His death was portrayed as more of a slow, almost painless death. I feel that the directors did an excellent job distinguishing between the different types of deaths. Showing so many during the sinking scene and demonstrating all the different ways people lost their lives that night helped people grasp the emotional intensity of Jack’s death versus the physicality of it. 

Titanic was portrayed as a massive, once in a blue moon event in the media upon its occurrence. The media though, instead of focusing on certain people dying headlines read more along the lines of “Thousands pass away on Titanic sinking”. This is similar in many mass death events. Not one or multiple people are focused on and mourned over but more so mourned over in a group as if making it less meaningful. I personally feel that the media normally does a decent job at portraying death. Now, as many know, the media doesn’t portray death of normal everyday people, but usually only important people. Michael Jackson’s tragic death is one that comes to mind. Although Jackson went through years of trials and tribulations, after he died, the media did a pretty good job at excluding talk over these allegations and focused more on a celebration of the mans life. This, however, was not the case with Titanic as the media focused just on the sinking and the amount of deaths rather than the importance of them. 

I feel this movie does a good job at demonstrating how America currently deals with death even though this event happened more than a century ago. It seems that when death occurs, the amount matters very much on how the American public handles it. If one person dies, a family mourns; if a celebrity dies, fans mourn; but if a hundred people die in a plane accident, people call for reasons and reach a generalization on the loss of life in that particular event.