Thursday, July 26, 2012

Truth and Story in The Scarlet Pimpernel

(**Warning: spoiler to the Scarlet Pimpernel revealed!**)

Friday night we watched The Scarlet Pimpernel, a 1982 movie (featuring Anthony Andrews and Jane Seymour) based on the classic by Baroness Orczy. We had hoped for some good sword fighting and heroic exploits, but as the story progressed, we began to wonder how much our boys would understand about the French reign of terror and the non-graphically depicted guillotine activity.

What bothered my 5-year-old the most was when the Scarlet Pimpernel was led out to be executed by the firing squad while his wife and her brother waited with the villain inside. Since I had read the book and my husband and I had seen the movie some years ago we knew everything would be all right, but how do you convince a little boy who is being carried along by what he sees? Only when Percy reappeared to declare his victory was my son somewhat reassured, but at the end he still expressed his strong preference for the Daffy Duck version of the Scarlet Pumpernickel. We sincerely apologized to him, because we certainly had no intention of upsetting him--but we had known the ending!

As I snuggled our boys in bed, I whispered to them of the cross. “Sweetheart,” I said, “in a story, who is in charge of how things turn out, the author or the character? The author. And who is in charge of the story we’re in? It’s Jesus! The story we are living is all about Him, and He is in charge of everything! When Jesus died on the cross, Satan thought he had triumphed, and was allowed a moment to think he had won—just like Percy, the Scarlet Pimpernel, allowed his enemy a mere moment to revel in his success. But really, Percy was in charge! Jesus was fully in control on the cross, and while Satan thought he had finally defeated God, really he was overwhelmingly conquered. And Jesus, who is both the author and the hero of the story we are living, is bringing us to a joyful ending where we will all live happily ever after, because isn’t that how all the best stories end? The Scarlet Pimpernel is just a little shadow pointing to Jesus Christ.”

What joy to point a little boy to our Hero, that when things seem darkest, it’s not over yet! Our Savior is still in the business of robbing prisons and rescuing His beloved from death sentences, and carrying His beloved home. A satisfying ending that points to the happy ending that awaits us.

Movie cover image from Cover Browser

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