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Reading childhood fairy tales is often educational not only for fluency and comprehension but for the moral lessons that make up the fabric of civilization. In fact, traditionally, the ending of fairy tales is called the “moral” of the story. In the vein of oral tradition, fairy tales encapsulate archetypes and adventures that outline the human struggle with the protagonist leading the way around the Escher-esque landscape of human existence hoping to somehow wind up not only victorious but with their character and integrity in tact.
If you imagine sitting around a campfire with your family or your clan, the elder of the group waxing poetic about lions, tigers and bears, both figurative and metaphorical, winding up at the end with a juggernaut of moral implications, you will recall, either as a solid personal memory, or as something floating around in your DNA about the sustenance of good storytelling.
Perhaps spending $75 for two at the movies, with a large popcorn and a drink is part of the reason we feel so used after leaving the theater these days, but maybe there’s more to it. When comic books are the literature we base our films on and exploding cars burst like fireworks in the air at a rate of 50 per second, even the action lovers among us may feel a certain emptiness or even just boredom at the end of the experience.
Not everything has to be a Disney movie with a perfect bow tied to the end. Yet the responsibility of the storytellers has long been revered, upheld, even greatly respected, for people knew that through stories, strong lessons were being communicated. We crave these lessons more than we crave entertainment, though being entertained is certainly a bonus.
Learning about our journey and our choices, the possibilities and how one path may lead to something either interesting or painful, dangerous or fulfilling, is an experience even adults look for in their stories.
As I order movies on Netflix and save up to go out to the movies every now and then, I always hold out hope that this time I’ll see something that really moves me, teaches me, encourages me in one direction or another.