Sunday, March 1, 2015

"Welcome to the Nerd Lab." The Epicness that is "Big Hero 6"

On Friday night, after enjoying a leisurely dinner with my household sisters, I trekked over to “Disney Friday” (an event created freshman year by one of my friends, which, as you may guess, involves watching a Disney movie on Friday). I had been invited to watch Big Hero 6. I saw a preview for this movie several months back, and I thought it looked weird. And somewhat dumb. I wanted to watch it, but was not too sure about how good the movie would be. But, my friends were showing it, and I wanted to hang out with them (and watch it), so I scurried through the chilly night air towards Trinity Hall. The enthusiasm and joy of my friends was contagious, and I could not help but be excited for this movie. I didn’t know the plot, I had no clue what to expect (except a gigantic marshmallow-looking thing that I remembered from the preview), and I didn’t even know if I would like this movie.


I laughed crazy hard. I nearly cried. The epic soundtrack resonated in my heart. And I was blown away by the beautiful exhibition of sacrificial love in this movie.

This movie hits you hard. It is hilarious and uplifting, but it gets raw and real, forcing you to watch things that hurt so bad—because you see the good, the bad, and the ugly in fourteen-year-old Hiro’s life, and you can realize,“hey, I go through these same things, in slightly different ways.” This movie helps you to look not just at Hiro’s life, but at your own life, and to see how hope, redemption, healing, and sacrificial love can always shine a bright light into the darkness of suffering.   

If you haven’t seen the movie, please—go watch it. It is well worth your time. It has a bit of darkness that took me back to Up, so if you have young children, you may want to be sensitive to this fact. There are also a couple of sexual references in dialogue, but it overall is a very clean, wholesome film. And hey, if you screen it before showing the movie to your kids, you have an excuse to watch it twice! So leave this post behind, watch the movie, and come back later if you so desire.

If you have seen the movie, then feel free to continue reading.


Healing. So Hiro doesn’t have parents (because hey, this is a Disney movie, and since when do they let a main character have both parents for an entire film?), and then he loses Tadashi, his brother. He shuts out the world, his aunt, and a college career (and the nerds from college!) and doesn’t want to tell Baymax of his deep pain. Before Hiro has worked through his sorrow, grieved, and started to heal, he acts out of vengeance, rage, and deep pain. He has no mercy for Callaghan, and certainly no love or justice. But Hiro ultimately sees the importance of admitting the deep pain and loss that he has experienced. It isn’t until he has let himself grieve and admit his need for healing that he can be healed. Then, when Hiro has begun to heal, he can find true peace and properly battle Callaghan out of true justice and mercy. The true strength that Hiro finds when he has more peace in the midst of the craziness of life totally reminds me of something cool that I read the other day. So, for Lent this year, I’m praying through this epic little book that a friend of mine gave to me a couple weeks back: Searching for and Maintaining Peace, by Fr. Jacques Phillippe. And there’s some coolness that Fr. Phillippe speaks about regarding the interior peace that we must strive for: 

 "The Christian fights, then, against sin, with violence sometimes, called as he is to keep fighting to the point of death (Hebrews 12:4), but he fights with a peaceful heart and his struggle is that much more efficacious, because his heart is more peaceful. For, as we have said, it is exactly this interior peace which permits him to fight, not with his own strength, which would be quickly exhausted, but with the strength of God.”

Community. Yes, Baymax is a robot. But he’s awesome—and he helps Hiro experience community. Baymax shows us that things get rough in life, and when we go through suffering, we should surround ourselves with a community of love, instead of isolating ourselves. Let’s pause and take a quick look at St. John Paul II’s words (I bolded some text for added emphasis):

“In itself human suffering constitutes as it were a specific "world" which exists together with man, which appears in him and passes, and sometimes does not pass, but which consolidates itself and becomes deeply rooted in him. This world of suffering, divided into many, very many subjects, exists as it were "in dispersion". Every individual, through personal suffering, constitutes not only a small part of that a world", but at the same time" that world" is present in him as a finite and unrepeatable entity. Parallel with this, however, is the interhuman and social dimension. The world of suffering possesses as it were its own solidarity. People who suffer become similar to one another through the analogy of their situation, the trial of their destiny, or through their need for understanding and care, and perhaps above all through the persistent question of the meaning of suffering. Thus, although the world of suffering exists "in dispersion", at the same time it contains within itself a singular challenge to communion and solidarity. We shall also try to follow this appeal in the present reflection.”
 (St. John Paul II, Salvifici Doloris #8)

Big Hero 6 continues to show us the communion and solidarity in a world of suffering. Baymax contacts Hiro’s nerdy friends, and we see that with them—and Baymax—Hiro is able to heal and reorient his life.

The witness of sacrificial love. As the movie begins, we see Hiro in the bot fighting rink. Hiro, acting like any typical genius teenager might, goes to the bot fights and makes money, adding to his own personal glory. On the other hand, we begin to see Tadashi’s self-sacrifice as we meet Baymax: the healer robot that Tadashi has spent many hours creating, in order to help other people. Hiro sees how amazing (and weird) Tadashi’s life, work, workplace, and friends are, and due to the witness of Tadashi, he is encouraged to seek more in life than bot fighting. Tadashi is a witness of what sacrificial love is: he works to help other people, and he ultimately gives up his life for Callaghan. Later on, we see how Tadashi’s sacrifice was for Callaghan seems to be in vain, since Callaghan started the fire (and survived). But the witness of Tadashi’s sacrifice remains.
Hiro, following in the footsteps of his brother, ultimately grows in this sacrificial love himself. Risking everything, he dives into the portal to save Abigail. Yes, she’s the daughter of the villain, but Hiro and Baymax recognize her dignity and worth, and give all that they have to save her. When they try to get out, not only does Baymax offer up himself to send Hiro and Abigail out, but Hiro makes a huge sacrifice as well. He has to accept the sacrifice of Baymax, knowing that he has lost yet another close friend. How many times have we experienced something like this in our own lives? We’ve already gone through so much suffering, lost so much, and then—BAM. We lose something or someone very dear to us. And we’re left wondering what we’ve done to deserve this.

“But in order to perceive the true answer to the "why" of suffering, we must look to the revelation of divine love, the ultimate source of the meaning of everything that exists. Love is also the richest source of the meaning of suffering, which always remains a mystery: we are conscious of the insufficiency and inadequacy of our explanations. Christ causes us to enter into the mystery and to discover the "why" of suffering, as far as we are capable of grasping the sublimity of divine love. In order to discover the profound meaning of suffering, following the revealed word of God, we must open ourselves wide to the human subject in his manifold potentiality. We must above all accept the light of Revelation not only insofar as it expresses the transcendent order of justice but also insofar as it illuminates this order with Love, as the definitive source of everything that exists. Love is: also the fullest source of the answer to the question of the meaning of suffering. This answer has been given by God to man in the Cross of Jesus Christ.”
(St. John Paul II, Salvifici Doloris, #13).

There is hope in death. We see Hiro setting up his new life after losing Baymax, and we’re trying to pull ourselves together. He’s just a robot, we try to remind ourselves. Obviously, the sacrifice was the most admirable thing. But this is so, so, lame. But we try to wipe our eyes and take joy in the fact that Hiro has accepted his many losses and is starting out his life anew and with purpose. And then we have that glimmer of hope, which bubbles up into deep joy, peace, and elation: Hiro discovers the identity chip of Baymax. Plus, it’s a Disney movie, so of course they wouldn’t kill off the cute, giant, marshmallow character. In all seriousness, we can remember that just as Hiro discovers this new life and hope after all of the sorrow and death, so too, shall we. God is continually blessing our lives, and desires to bring us to the fullness of joy.

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