Retelling the Easter story for children isn’t easy. Firstly, the actual story – what happened to Jesus, is downright horrific. So horrific that even adults can’t take it and often resort to more comforting, softened versions. Secondly, it’s hard to get to the meaning of the story without resorting to religious shorthand that, again, even adults can’t handle.
Children’s animated DVD, The Lion of Judah, uses a parallel story of farmyard animals to carry the meaning of the Easter story in words and images that children will understand. Presenting the themes and emotions of Easter through an interwoven story lets children into the emotional journey of Easter without dwelling on or glossing over true awfulness of the historical events.
The parallel is unmistakable. Judah is a lamb destined for a central role in the Jewish Passover. The story of his rescue by farmyard friends is woven into the gospel narrative of the Lamb of God and his role in the story of God’s great rescue plan for his people.
Parallel Story to The Gospel's Lamb of God
The animal characters are drawn in the style of big screen children’s animations such as the Madagascar series. Voices are supplied by well known movie personalities including Georgina Cordova (The Tale of Despereux), Anupam Kher (Bend It Like Beckham), Scott Eastwood (Invictus, Flags of Our Fathers), Bruce Marchiano (regular appearances in Christian Feature Movies) and Hollywood veteran, Victor Borgnine, in one of his last contributions to the world of film.
Of course computer generated animation isn’t cheap, and Christian animations will never make the box office returns of the big Hollywood studios. So production economies are inevitable. Fortunately, the creators of Lion Of Judah have only made economies that'll go largely unnoticed by the intended audience of 4 to 10 year olds.
Grown-ups might notice the story matching isn’t as even as it might be, and the background scenes aren’t as smoothly rendered as the foreground action. But children will notice only the lively characters, their adventure to rescue their animal friend and the connection to the bigger, Jesus centred story going on at the same time.
Always Compassionate and Sensitive
The movie makers haven’t held back on the musical score. Theme song by Christian GRAMMY nominated Kari Jobe, and The Cinematic Soundtrack blends the passion of both the animal fable and biblical narrative into, as one character describes, the ‘happy, sad, happy, sad, scared, sad, happy’ emotional journey.
This is an unusual and effective approach to presnting the meaning and emotion of Easter Stories for Children. It gives the true sense and feeling where less compassionate biblical retellings give only names and events. Children will no doubt want to ask more questions about the story giving grown-ups plenty of opportunity to point them to the Bible.
There’s a lot more that could be said about this movie and its approach to opening up the themes of Easter. But playing the video clip on the Lion of Judah DVD page would tell you a lot more.
Back by popular demand! Lion of Judah DVD has been rereleased in 2017.
March 14th, 2017 - Posted & Written by Laura White