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Orion and the Dark

MOVIE | A boy with irrational fears takes a journey with fantastical but friendly nighttime beings


DreamWorks Animation

<em>Orion and the Dark</em>
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Rated TV-Y7
Netflix

Young Orion is afraid of everything: talking to girls, flushing the toilet (what if the whole school floods?), going on a field trip to the planetarium. He’s a loner, picked on by bullies, and petrified of giving the wrong answer in class. His sketchbook is filled with improbable scenarios leading to the worst ­possible consequences.

Orion’s loving parents have well-intentioned advice for their son: “The trick is not to let your fear get in the way of living your life. … Sometimes you just have to feel the fear, and do it anyway.” Orion doesn’t find this advice helpful.

The DreamWorks film Orion and the Dark is funny and beautifully animated, and viewers young and old will relate to many of the main character’s fears. Christian viewers, however, will notice a God-sized hole in the film’s worldview.

In addition to his many rational and not-so-rational fears, Orion is especially afraid of the dark. One night, the power goes out, and while the night lights are off, Dark himself comes for a visit.

It sounds terrifying, but Dark turns out to be a ­lovable, misunderstood being, and he wants to show Orion the work of darkness is essential for life on earth. Soon we are soaring above the earth with Orion and Dark, bringing night and sleep to the world.

Once per time zone, Orion takes a break with five other entities: Quiet, Sleep, Insomnia, Unexplained Noises, and Sweet Dreams, and they compare notes on how the shift is going. The lad flies along with each of these beings as they do their creative work using hilarious means. Always right behind them is the powerful Sun, depicted as a confident king, bringing light and energy right on the heels of Dark. Conflict arises when Orion unwittingly plants seeds of doubt about Dark with the other beings. As a result, the whole globe is threatened with nighttime without sleep.

Orion and the Dark is filled with lovely landscapes in an impressionistic style. Viewers will appreciate the loving family structure that we see with Orion’s ­parents, and then with his own daughter and grandson as the story progresses. Although there is no vulgar language, writers added some misuses of God’s name. The film’s perspective is humanistic. Orion’s view of death provides one example: “I try to imagine what death is like. I’ve ­concluded it’s like nothing.”

Regrettably, Orion and the Dark leaves no room for anyone Divine overseeing night and day, the sun, the moon and stars, and all that truly make the world work.


Marty VanDriel Marty is a TV and film critic for WORLD. He is a graduate of World Journalism Institute and CEO of a custom truck and trailer building company. He and his wife, Faith, reside in Lynden, Wash., near children and grandchildren.

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