Home > Film > Treasure Planet – Father hunger, in space!

Treasure Planet – Father hunger, in space!

Treasure Planet is Disney’s ‘In Space!’ version of the classic novel, Treasure Island. It is the story of Jim, a troubled youth who is adrift in the world as he searches for his path and his purpose. The cause of his aimlessness is the loss of his father, at a fairly young age, leaving him unsure, sad and angry.

This is actually one of the most honest portrayals of fatherlessness I have seen in a film, especially a family cartoon.

The story begins with Jim as a happy, smiling, chubby child, enjoying story time with his mother. We then transition to teen-Jim, a rugged, obviously rebellious youth out for thrills.

We see all the problems he has been having, with the law, in school, communicating with his mother. It is only a ways in that we learn the trouble started when his father left. This is where the film begins to dig into the problems of fatherlessness, later on detailing Jim’s father’s departure in faded flashbacks.

Jim goes through all the problems which sons always experience when they grow up without a father (or even a father figure). Aggression without focus, a lack of drive, no discipline. All this stems from a lack of father involvement, a concept which is reinforced by Silver becoming Jim’s father figure, of sorts, which helps to give him some focus and helps to set him down the right path.

Jim eventually becomes caring, confident and focused, the things any good man should be.

What is important to remember is that these problems are not caused by a bad father (although they can be), but by an absent father, and this isn’t limited to fathers who willingly leave. Deceased fathers and those whom the mother leaves are also absent in the same way, having a similarly negative effect on their children.

While Treasure Planet only shows one situation which can lead to fatherlessness, it is honest enough about the problems and keeps the focus enough on Jim that it is not limited to talking only about fathers who left their families, but about missing dads in general. It doesn’t focus on the evil of the absent father, which keeps it from coming off as an attack on fathers. It focuses on the problems Jim faces, making the point without making fathers feel bad.

The feeling is that the problems don’t come from the father having left, but from him not being there, allowing the message to cover all reasons for absent fathers.

Another thing I like about the movie is how it handles Silver as a father figure. His positive effect on Jim is undeniable, but he is not played as a full replacement father for Jim. Too often movies will show new men stepping in to take the place of the biological father in the lives of children, but this usually doesn’t go so well.

Silver is really more a mentor, just one of the many roles of a father plays, but perhaps the most important to a young man approaching adulthood, like Jim.  This helps to give a sense of the absolute importance of fathers without trying to claim just any man can be a true father figure.

All in all, Treasure Planet is a fun movie, one of my favorite Disney movies, which tells a powerful tale of fatherlessness and a young man’s search for himself in the cosmos.

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  1. February 18, 2010 at 4:46 pm

    It would be interesting to read how you compare this film story to the original RLS work. Particularly the relationship between Jim and Silver. And the transformational impact having a boy to care about has on the gnarly pirate’s character. Does the young man offer him a chance for some level of redemption? If so, how does he handle that opportunity?

  2. February 18, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    Your blog software suggested this link to a related post. Now HERE is a man whose life is a wonderful role model for all people – young men included. His writings inspired my own path and may offer you and your readers some earth-based awareness and spiritual consolation – Thomas Berry: http://isiria.wordpress.com/2009/06/19/quotations-from-thomas-berry/

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