Hollywood director David E. Talbert says “people have been taught not to believe,” and he hopes his new movie, “Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey,” will inspire people to believe again.
A heartwarming tale, “Jingle Jangle” shows audiences how the power of belief and faith can change the world around them. Set to be released on Netflix Friday, the whimsical musical features a top cast of actors including the legendary Phylicia Rashad.
"One of my favorite lines in the film is, 'Never be afraid when people don't see what you see. Only be afraid if you no longer see.' That line resonates really well for me because one of my favorite scriptures is (Hebrews 11:1), 'Faith is the substance of things hoped for but the evidence of things not seen,'” Talbert told The Christian Post.
The playwright, author, and filmmaker said the world was framed by the Word of God, so the “things that appear were made from things that didn't appear.” That concept is a theme weaved throughout his holiday movie.
"So even God had to have faith to make the foundation of the world because they appeared from things that didn't ever appear. So this whole faith thing is such a spiritual thing. Creativity is such a spiritual thing,” he added.
Along with Rashad, “Jingle Jangle” features Academy Award-winning actor Forest Whitaker, newcomer Madalen Mills, Emmy winner Keegan-Michael Key, Hugh Bonneville (“Downton Abbey”), and singer Ricky Martin.
The Christmas-themed musical is “set in the gloriously vibrant town of Cobbleton, the film follows legendary toymaker Jeronicus Jangle (Forest Whitaker) whose fanciful inventions burst with whimsy and wonder. But when his trusted apprentice (Keegan-Michael Key) steals his most prized creation, it’s up to his equally bright and inventive granddaughter (Madalen Mills) — and a long-forgotten invention — to heal old wounds and reawaken the magic within” the synopsis of the movie says.
Talbert grew up in a lineage of “three generations of holiness preachers,” so his Christian faith is reflected in the heart of his work.
"I'm thankful that we were able to weave these kinds of themes and things that people can hang on to and take away from the film,” he told CP.
“Jingle Jangle” shows how the boldness and unconditional love of a child brings healing to those around her. Talbert says the world today can learn a lot from the fearlessness of children.
"I think we can learn that we have to be taught to not believe,” The Washington, D.C., native said. “Belief is something we were born with, we're taught to not believe. We're taught to believe we can't fly. We're taught to believe that we're not magical and wonderful. These are all things that were taught. When you're born, the sky is the limit. Later on, you're taught to have a ceiling on you.”
"So through the eyes of a child, we get a chance to see someone who has not been taught,” Talbert added. “So through life and through this character, hopefully, people can now see, 'What I've learned, what I have been taught, it's time for me to unlearn.'"
Talbert revealed that his deep spiritual insights come from his grandmother, Pastor Annie Mae Woods, who was one of the founding pastors of the Pentecostal movement in Washington, D.C.
According to the filmmaker, “Jingle Jangle" was inspired by the films he watched growing up, “Willy Wonka,” “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” “Mary Poppins” and the original “Dr. Doolittle.”
“I just wanted to put something in the universe like that, but that was representative of people of color, how the world looks,” he said. “So that my son could see somebody that looks like him that was magical and wonderful and the world would get a chance to see a different take on a holiday classic.”
Both Talbert’s son and wife had small cameos in the film and watching his son see himself on screen was an emotional experience for the movie creator.
"That's winning. If I feel this way, imagine how many people of color feel the same way, the same joy that they will have with the film. That's everything to me, representation is everything to me. I think the world needs this as much as our communities need this,” he maintained.
"There's healing in forgiveness, there's healing in 'I'm sorry'. All those themes I weave through here in the midst of a big magical and wonderful film, but there's something for everyone. There's something for generations — the parent and the kid — there's a lot for us to take away from,” he said.
“The biggest thing for me is that there is wonder and magic and love and light and heart in us all. If we're willing to give into it, if we're willing to trust it and have faith in it, that's probably the biggest thing for me.”
“This film, I needed to be reminded that things work when you believe. So I hope the world will get that same message too,” he added.
“Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey” premieres on Netflix on Nov. 13.