The Rescuers – A Man’s Mouse by: Blaine Grimes

Posted: July 31, 2014 by jperritt in Action, Animation, Family
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miceThe Rescuers (1977) is a delightfully fun animated Disney classic. It is the story of two mice, Bianca (Eva Gabor) and Bernard (Bob Newhart), who must go on a daring mission to rescue the kidnapped orphan Penny (Michelle Stacy) from the clutches of the evil Medusa (Geraldine Page). It is a story of friendship, love, rescue, and bravery in the face of fear. It is also a story in which a mouse gives us an idea of what it means to be a man–as Bernard, throughout the film, proves himself to be a man’s mouse.

Bernard consistently puts himself in harm’s way in order to protect Bianca. When the Rescue Aid Society receives Penny’s message in a bottle, Bernard shows no interest in going on a rescue mission. However, when Bianca volunteers, Bernard, knowing that the mission is dangerous, suggests that someone accompany her on the trip to keep her safe. That someone ends up being him. Shortly after their journey begins, Bianca and Bernard find themselves taking a shortcut through a zoo. Bernard goes ahead to scout a dark and spooky pathway, making sure it it safe for Bianca. After encountering a grumpy lion, Bernard decides that they should take the long way. Fast-forward to when the villainous Medusa forces Penny down into the cave to look for the Devil’s Eye, a large diamond; it is Bernard who offers to explore a particularly treacherous part of the cave. Time and time again, Bernard puts himself in harm’s way in order to ensure the safety of Bianca.

The point is not that Bernard is a macho man, who boldly goes where no mouse has gone before–far from it. In most of the above examples of bravery, Bernard is afraid of the challenges set before him. Remember, Bernard did not volunteer himself to go on the rescue mission; Bianca chose him. Once selected, however, he was willing to give his life, if necessary, to keep Bianca from harm. Additionally, the anxiety is almost palpable (it is certainly visible) as Bernard heads into the dark part of the zoo and, later, the cave. No, the source of Bernard’s bravery is not mere machismo or some chauvinistic sense of male superiority, but an outworking of his nature as a man. His love for Bianca compels him. He has a need to protect Bianca, a deep-seated urge that overwhelms and overpowers the fear that, at times, rules his life. This sort of sacrificial leadership has nothing to do with a man’s capability or value (for men and women are equal in God’s sight), but it has everything to do with God-ordained roles. In the end, Bernard is willing to sacrifice his safety in order to preserve Bianca’s because that is what he was created to do.

The Rescuers shows, in a small way (see what I did there?), what authentic manhood looks like. A true man–a godly man–accepts dangerous challenges, leads the way into the lion’s lair, fights Medusas, and explores the unreached parts of caves. A real man slays the creepy-crawlies that strike fear in the heart of his wife, though he too is afraid of them. The authentic man goes to work to provide for his family. He gives of himself, and gives, and gives, and gives; and when he can’t give any more, he lays down his life, as Christ once did for him.

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