Theme: The Transformation of Toula
Released in April, My Big Fat Greek Wedding has become the surprise hit of the summer movie going audience. Made on a very small budget with no "movie stars", this movie has out grossed many of the more expensive and heavily promoted films. There is only one reason for this astonishing success; My Big Fat Greek Wedding is a modern day Cinderella Story; a movie that touches hearts, and people love it!
The Small Story
The movie opens in the darkness of a rainy Chicago night, a symbol for the life of the main character, Toula. The only ray of hope is the time; it's just before dawn, 5:00 AM. As Toula recounts her life, we learn how she has ended up in the car with her father this morning. She has been caught in a very small story - her father's Greek Story. Toula has never been released to become who she truly is. Her heart, therefore, has been imprisoned in a cocoon of her father's design, and all that he sees is an ugly, aging caterpillar.
The movie is all about the transformation of Toula by the freeing of her heart. Notice the "hearts" in the movie. First, we see Toula at age fourteen with a white heart over a black heart on the pocket of her yellow shirt. Heart stickers surround her; they are on the refrigerator in the restaurant, the computer in the travel agency, and even on her mother's file cabinet. Her heart is screaming to be set free, while at the same time it is losing all hope. When she overhears her aunt tell her father, "Toula will never leave you," it sends her to the alley in utter despair. There, like Cinderella running to the garden after her stepsisters have stripped her, she first crumbles, then clutches her "Add To Your Life" Brochure1. Like a prayer, she makes a wish for a different life; one where she is braver and prettier. Returning to the restaurant, she chides herself for dreaming and notes that nothing will ever change, when suddenly true love walks by and opens the door. The slight flash of light that hits Toula is a magic moment. Her heart has been opened, and she will never by the same.
The remainder of the movie is the story of how love not only transforms Toula, but also releases her. It is a contrast between two men and two kinds of love.
|External - only sees the outside
||Internal - sees her beauty|
|"You're starting to look old!"
||"I don't remember frump; I remember you."|
|Wounds with words
||Heals with words|
|Wants her to conform to him
||Conforms to her; is stripped for her|
|Focuses on himself
||Focuses on her|
|"You're part of the family, so you should do this."
||"You're part of your family, so I will do whatever."|
|Holds onto her
The result in Toula's life from each kind of "love":
|A life of duty and obligation
||A life of freedom and love|
|A soul killing life
||Her heart is free|
|"Frump girl hiding"
||Her beauty is released|
The contrast between these two loves is profound, and it is the answer to why our hearts are so touched by this movie. Whether we will admit it or not, we are all like Toula; imprisoned in a world we can't get out of (Genesis 3:22-24) and bound by ties to a father we would rather not claim (I Corinthians 15:21-22). We hide behind fig leaves (Genesis 3:9-10) as Toula hid behind counters and water bottles. On the inside we feel like the frump girl, and quite often find ourselves out in the alley having lost all hope. The "Good News" of The Gospel is that Someone loved us enough to strip Himself (Philippians 2:5-8) and be baptized (Matthew 3:13-15) to become like us for the sole purpose of marrying us (Ephesians 5:31-32).
My Big Fat Greek Wedding ends with just that -- a huge marriage celebration. It is important to see that true love not only released Toula from her prison, but also restored her to her entire family. No longer is she the family embarrassment and outcast. Her union with Ian delivered her from isolation back into the life of community. In doing so, it transformed her family's life as well.
1. The way sister Athena grabs the brochure and says, "What is this, Toula?" is reminiscent of the ugly
Recommended Reading: The Sacred Romance by Brent Curtis and John Eldredge