Two new Disney fairy tales (of sorts)

As you may have heard, in the next few months, two new Disney movies will be released.

The first to debut is Frozen, a new computer-animated telling of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen.” It will arrive in theaters on November 27. Perfect for a Thanksgiving treat!

Coming out around Christmas on December 20th, Saving Mr. Banks stars Tom Hanks as Mr. Walt Disney himself and Emma Thompson as author P.L. Travers. The movie chronicles the history and controversies of the making of Travers’ highly popular novel, Mary Poppins, into a Disney film. Having read the original novel by Travers and seen the trailer for the film, I’m very excited to see this.

I hope you enjoy these clips, and I hope to see you at the movies this holiday season!

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Who do you love? Part 2

Okay, so you are fully allowed to hate me. Sorry it took over a year to finish the analysis I had started a year ago (I hope you didn’t hold your breath too long!), but my feelings haven’t really changed. But I have come back to finish my tale. So let’s take a look at some of the “princesses” I didn’t have the chance to analyze until now.

Ahem… The era of the 2000s.

Disney took a bit of an animated feature film hiatus, minus the Pixar films they produced after they bought out Pixar.  Until 2009.  The Princess and the Frog.  Time to look at Tiana. She is an amazing character that Disney obviously chose and designed to appear more forward-thinking than ever before. She’s African American, has incredible spirit and heart (She comes from little, works like crazy to open her own restaurant, and is still a kid-hearted woman, no matter how little sleep she gets. Now THAT’S what I call amazing.), and she decides that being a frog with the man she loves is more important than living a stressful, unhappy life. I admit, there’s very little negative I can say about Tiana. She certainly is one of the more ambitious and less romantically driven “princesses” of the Disney bunch. However, yet again, love proves to be her fall back; yet again, Disney has fallen into the trap of “true love cures all.” While I’m all for the blissful idea of true love, I just don’t think it had to be in this story. Tiana was fine without a man, but I’m not going to be totally hard on this one. She needed someone to keep her grounded, and Naveen was just crazy enough to do it for her. Her complete opposite completes her. Overall, she still is amazing, though, because she still follows her dream and achieves it — without the real necessity of a strong man figure (Naveen isn’t exactly the strongest male character, but he certainly has, well, character). She’s on her way, and she gets there with a little help from her friends and by rolling up her sleeves and working hard. A much more realistic Disney “princess” (yes, if you haven’t seen this movie, please understand that the “princess” is more of a technicality in The Princess and the Frog: She marries a prince, therefore becoming a princess. A little too convenient for my taste, but it is based on a fairy tale and another book based on the fairy tale. I admit I haven’t read the novel, but I would be curious to see how the film and the book compare).

In 2010, Disney came out with Tangled — a Rapunzel story. This could have been a lot worse, but I can see that Disney is making some real progress with feminism. In the Grimm’s fairy tale, Rapunzel is taken away by the witch because of her mother’s rapunzel cravings. It gets particularly interesting when the prince visits Rapunzel in the tower, and suddenly Rapunzel starts rapidly gaining weight… Clearly, this wasn’t going to be in the Disney version. But, Disney went a step further from the woman who didn’t realize she was pregnant and was overcome by a witch-mother and a man: Rapunzel is the one who overtakes Flynn by standing up for herself and defending herself when a man randomly breaks into her home and by changing his mind about his life, turning him from a  narcissistic thief into a decent human being that loves her. This change of character (or not — see Beauty and the Beast) is rather refreshing. Yet again, we run into the true love, need a man and a woman together for a resolution, plot, but at least Rapunzel can make it on her own. Of course, there is that section when she comes off as bi-polar, going from a high from escaping her tower prison to a low from realizing how upset her mother would be. This is hilarious in one way, but it tends to also mock a hormonal woman. Hey, we can’t help it if we have mood swings!

And then, there was 2012: the year of Brave. Merida was sassy, spunky, and just wanted to be herself… WITHOUT A MAN. With this movie, Disney had finally caught up to the 1980s or 1990s, realizing that women didn’t need men to survive. Like I said previously, I have nothing against true love. It’s an absolutely beautiful thing. But when that is the only thing that drives your movies, it tends to get a bit old. And so, Merida came along to break that trend. THANK YOU, DISNEY! However…

However, the plot to this movie falls flat. Yes, Merida sticks to her ideas by refusing to marry a man simply because she is told to, like just about all the other princesses in all of the previous Disney movies. Yes, focusing on the family dynamic was a great change of pace, especially the mother-daughter relationship.  It seems that Disney was trying to parody itself with this film. But it still didn’t make the cut. Why? The plot felt incredibly forced. It was almost like Disney sat down and said “Well, we need to appease society with a more feminist female character. This is the best we can come up with given our limitations of ‘no romantic element,’ so let’s make this thing!” This movie had such potential, and it was beautifully crafted, but the plot didn’t really work. Oh well. It was a nice shot. Back to the drawing board (seriously, I’d love another 2D animated film. Classic Disney).

In conclusion, none of the Disney princesses that I have looked at (I know I’ve skipped over a few, so please forgive me, but if you ask me nicely, I might go back and add more) have really been truly feminist. The closest in my book? Mulan. She is my favorite “princess” to watch. Hopefully, Disney can recreate this magic in the future. Maybe this fall/winter’s new movie, Frozen? There is the potential for two very strong and amazing female characters in this film, and I’ll be very interested to see how Disney has progressed since last summer. And maybe it won’t take me a year to share my opinion.

Got some comments? Anything I forgot that you want me to add? Comment below and let me know!