After watching Lilo & Stitch in class (5 times, I might add), I am still struck by a couple of really powerful scenes from the movie.
The first of these scenes is when Jumba is watching Stitch about halfway through the film. He observes that “626 was designed to be a monster, but now he has nothing to destroy. You see, I never gave him a greater purpose. What must it be like to have nothing, not even memories to look back on in the middle of the night?”
I think this scene is particularly meaningful because of its applicability – what must life be like if we have no purpose, no clear reason to be here? What must life be like if we are truly feathers drifting in the wind (as is the case in Forrest Gump)? I think this is one of those really meaningful existential questions that we can all ask ourselves.
The other scene that always hits me when I watch the movie is when Stitch wanders out into the middle of the woods with The Ugly Duckling. He sits quietly, sadly in the center of a small clearing, looks around, and begins to cry, “Lost. Lost.”
I think, particularly in connection with what Jumba says, this is so poignant. Stitch recognizes that he has no purpose, and that he has no family to help him find it. He cries because he has not found his place in the world, but knows that he wants a place to be loved – he wants a home.
In part, I think this is a sort of character vs. self conflict in that it is about Stitch trying to form a clear identity apart from what Jumba calls his “destructive nature.” This conflict is only resolved when Stitch considers Ohana – nobody gets left behind, or forgotten. Because Nani and Lilo had embraced him, because he began to feel like it was a place where he belonged, Stitch realized that he wasn’t lost, after all. As he says at the end of the movie, “This is my family. I found it all on my own. It is little and broken, but still good. Yes, still good.”
Despite the problems and difficulties their little family has, Stitch recognizes the positives – he sees that they care about each other, that they are warm-hearted people, and that they truly care about him. And this recognition is both the resolution in the movie and a part of the theme. Perhaps more significantly, however, he points out that he found his family by himself, which seems to be the resolution in the story.
Based on what I see as the problem in the story and the way that problem is resolved, it seems clear that one of the prominent themes in the film is that purpose (and a likely consequence, happiness) is found in those things that we value most, such as home and family. In other words, we must seek out, and possibly even create, our own purpose in life, and it is this purpose that will help us find happiness.
I have to say, that’s pretty deep for a silly Disney movie…