The Secret World of Arrietty, while based on familiar childhood tales and fantasies, is very much an adult film, as is often the case. While I predicted films of 2012 would be about class-warfare, I didn't imagine that such a simple but wholesome view of a capitalist society would present itself with so much dignity and grace, yet The Secret World of Arrietty does just that.
Mirror, Mirror shows Snow White commanding an army of "little warriors," and Jack the Giant Killer shows Jack being the "little person" in the land of giants, and amongst the giant cyclops, Perseus is a little person in Wrath of the Titans; there is also the dwarfs who form Snow White's army in Snow White and the Huntsman and, of course, the Hobbits in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. The "little people," then, can be understood as the smallest in society, those who are not the economic giants ruling a capitalist society.
So, in 2012, size matters.
Many may instantly think of G.K. Chesterton's Distributionism, which defends private ownership of property but is against really big corporations keeping the means of production all to itself (it's known as a "third way" between socialism and capitalism). But that's not what I am talking about, and I don't think it's even the conversation needed right now, especially as we are about to get snow-balled with class-warfare films. Rather, The Secret World of Arrietty provides us with a reminder of what it is that the poorest of the poor contribute to our society and not just what it costs to maintain them. This is a clip explaining what "borrowers" are:
I'm sure you're saying, that's nice, but what does this have to do with a Christian economics?
In every work of art, there's an element I call the "God factor," and it's whether or not the universe the artwork creates includes God or not; The Secret World of Arrietty provides two important clues that, in a world where there are people the size of leaves, so, too, there is God. First, the mother prays to God and asks that He protect Arrietty and her father when they go on their borrowing; secondly, the mother's name is Homily, which is what a sermon is called that provides instruction. Arrietty itself is a German form of the name Harriet and means "home ruler," so we have The Secret World of Arrietty existing within the same world that God as we know Him also exists.
It's Arrietty who gives Shawn something more valuable than anything in the world: the will to fight his illness and get better. Before meeting Arrietty, Shawn seemed resigned to death that would result from the failure of his heart surgery either immediately or soon after wards. Arrietty, by her example, gives Shawn hope, and there is no price that can be put on that. But The Secret World of Arrietty gives us a choice: we can look at them as borrowers, that they do serve a useful role in society, or we can look at them as thieves, as Hara the maid does in this clip:
My relatives are found of quoting the Bible verse that "Those who do not work shall not eat," and using that as a basis for their economic and tax programs; we know from the the Desert Fathers that it was the "work of salvation," and the work of the soul that would bring the food of spiritual consolation and wisdom, it had nothing to do with the way society was supposed to create it's social programs.
(Below is the closing song and video you might enjoy):