If you haven’t seen the movie Newsies, it is quite possible you aren’t a Christian. Just kidding. Sort of.
Next time you go to church, ask five people if they have seen the movie. I guarantee that at least one of those people will respond by saying, “Oh my gosh! I LOVE THAT MOVIE!”. Then they will begin singing and possibly dance-fighting, because Newsies is a musical. If you’re unfamiliar with Newsies, the basic plot (supposedly based on a true story) goes something like this.
The Newsies are a rag tag army of young boys who sell newspapers for a penny a pape (street lingo for paper). Jack Kelly (played by a young Christian Bale), is the defacto leader of the Newsies. Kelly is a street smart kid who is always outrunning the cops and outfighting the local bullies, all while performing spectacular dance moves and speaking in a quaint New York accent, which is pretty good, considering that Christian Bale was actually born in Wales (as we all know, those folks can’t dance or speak in New York accents).
One day, the rich and powerful Joseph Pullitzer (played by Robert Duvall) decides that he wants to make more money and become even more rich and powerful. The way he is going to make more money is by paying the Newsies less. The Newsies, who are already struggling to make enough money, are going to have work twice as hard just to put food in their stomach. It’s a classic example of the rich oppressing the poor.
But then something amazing happens. Jack Kelly, along with his shy friend David, decide that they’re not going to take it anymore. Together, they lead the Newsies to go on strike against Pullitzer. This strike is the central theme of the movie, and it creates tension that lasts until the final moments.
Why does Newsies have such a cult, underground following? Why do so many people (myself included) love the movie so much?
Because Newsies contains all the elements of the gospel.
Any truly good story contains at least some elements of the greatest story. That’s why Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, and Harry Potter are all so immensely popular. Each of these stories contains elements of God’s great story. What are these elements?
A Great Enemy Who Seeks To Destroy Others
In Newsies, Joseph Pullitzer is the great enemy. He does not care about the well-being of his newspaper boys, all he cares about is making money. When I watch the movie, I feel angry at the injustices perpetrated against the newspaper boys. I want someone to rescue them, to deliver them, to break the chains of oppression which bind them. The song “Once and for All” captures the coldness and badness of Joseph Pullitzer, as well as the desire to break free from his oppression.
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