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Playing with religion in “The Lego Movie”

Playing with religion in “The Lego Movie”

Jeffrey Weiss at RNS says “The Lego Movie” builds its story upon religious and moral themes which snap together in some very unexpected ways. Torey Lightcap shares twenty ways the film informs his faith.

Weiss says in his review that the faith and values themes “don’t all snap together securely… that’s in keeping with the rest of the film….”

Our hero, who has never ever deviated from the “official instructions” for anything, has to discover what it means to be “the Special” and lead the battle.

In his quest, he gains allies: A warrior-woman named Wyldstyle; her boyfriend, Batman (yes, that Batman); a half-unicorn/half kitty mash-up named, duh, UniKitty; and others, including a wizard named Vitruvius.

Marcus Vitruvius Pollio was an engineer and architect who wrote a 10-volume encyclopedia on architecture in the first century B.C. His work was so influential that Leonardo da Vinci used it 500 years later to help design his famous drawing of a man inside a circle, the Vitruvian Man.

This Vitruvius is one of the film’s “master builders,” figures able to effortlessly construct anything out of the Lego materials. “Master builder” may be a nod to Ibsen’s play “Master Builder,” about an architect who dies when he falls from one of his buildings. (Yeah, that’s dark.)

Go deeper? The hero of the tale, the anonymous construction guy, is named Emmet, or “truth” in Hebrew.

Weiss says that at the heart of the film is a tension between creativity and necessary rules, a fact that is hardly limited to the Lego universe. Emmet is “special” because he understands that creativity and rules must live in creative tension and that sometimes grace is required to move things forward.

Our own Torey Lightcap reflects on how the film informed his faith. 20 things I just learned from “The Lego Movie.” Here is a sample:

  1. Revel in unabashed curiosity and creativity. These urges fulfill the deepest part of us. Next time you’re about to put the kibosh on that, maybe ask yourself why.
  2. Build stuff. Junk it. Start over. And be happy, because this is preparing you for a life of pretty much constant change.
  3. Throw away the supplied directions and come up with something even cooler. (Yes, this is product placement, but wowza.)
  4. Recognize that as you do this, you’ll probably have a lot of ideas that take you nowhere at first. This is normal. No rational person should expect perfection. Just stay with it and something awesome will emerge. Really.
  5. If a good story (Star Wars, LOTR, The Matrix) is already out there, borrow from it, but make it your own. Sometimes the way to honor a time-tested story is by poking fun at it, not just always bowing down before it. When you do this, just go ahead and own the fact that you’re borrowing.
  6. Playtime is not “extra” — it’s the fundamental meaning-making realm of a child.
  7. Maybe some adults (men in particular) should ask themselves why they continually infantilize themselves by acquiring bigger and bigger toys.
  8. Playtime is essentially an engagement with an alternate reality. Control over that reality is a given for children who are learning what it means to manipulate environments. But locking down complete control isn’t the point of playtime. The one with the need to express the most control is usually the party-pooper.
  9. The end of a good story shouldn’t have to rely on trickery, or some bait-and-switch moment where the hero turns out to be cleverer than the evil villain figured. Perhaps the good end of a good story can just rely on genuinely emotional material that goes all the way to the bone.
  10. A dumb thing can suddenly be brilliant, whether it is a person or a song. And then it can go back to being dumb again, or it can be sort of semi-smart.
  11. Subtly poking fun is cool. So is overt subversion.
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