True love or real love? – Frozen

Frozen - Original Poster - from IMDB.com

Frozen – Original Poster – from IMDB.com

Frozen (2013)

Directors: Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee
Writers: Jennifer Lee (screenplay), Hans Christian Andersen (inspired by the story “The Snow Queen” by), Chris Buck (story), Jennifer Lee (story), Shane Morris (story)
Stars: Kristen Bell, Josh Gad, Idina Menzel

I love Disney films. Actually, I love most animation films. It is the child in me and the giddy little girl that loves to dream of worlds with magic and kingdoms and the prospect of true love. But as someone that likes to think of herself as a feminist, in my adult years I have become more and more concerned with the fact that “Disney Princesses” have become a whole franchise on their own that take away the great things about the princesses in the 1990-2000s film and reduce them back to Snow White-esque films. The little girl who knows no better than to clean a house, sing a song, and then almost die, only to be saved by a kiss from a creepy guy that has been trying to track her down because he heard her sing once. Seriously, that’s kind of scary. Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella and The Little Mermaid portray these women who are only present to be “won” by a prince and then married off to them. Most of the time they don’t even hold a conversation before falling deeply in love. And then we have the 90s princesses. Fierce women like Belle, Mulan, Pocahontas, Jasmine and Tiana who are women whose first priority isn’t to marry but to be great women. They reject the stereotype of true love and want to be women who are strong and independent women. But they all end up married or in love anyway. Then in the 2010 we were given Rapunzel, a princess who verges between the pre-90s and 90s princesses. Someone who does housework but is also seeking independence and freedom, and who also, just like all the others, falls in love. I love Tangled but there is always that itching feeling that it is coated in that “Disney Princess” franchise femininity that makes me cringe.

In 2012 Disney gave us Merida. The first Disney Princess that doesn’t fall in love. Where the story is about a mother-daughter relationship rather than a prince-princess relationship. And it was great. So when Frozen arrived on our screens this year I was anxious. I wondered whether Disney would continue with this theme of not needing a man to be a whole person, or whether they would go back to their roots that they had tried to get rid of. Disney did not disappoint. They managed to combine both stories of true love and equality in fantastic fashion. Two strong female characters, one your Sleeping Beauty type and the other Merida type. The rejection of traditional “true love” and the exploration of real love, was heartwarming. Elsa and Anna are princesses that I would like to look up to. Women who don’t let themselves be controlled by society but help shape it to fit them and create a world of inclusion rather than exclusion. Disney managed to turn their archetypes of hero and villain around and surprise us for once. It is funny, sad, inspiring, surprising, uplifting and visually gorgeous.

Frozen, even with its flaws (yes it still does have some), is a film that I will watch and re-watch like I have Beauty and the Beast and Mulan. Sisters forever!

4/5

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The Woman I Wish I Was – Beauty & The Beast

Beauty and the Beast - 3D Poster - from IMDB.com

Beauty and the Beast – 3D Poster – from IMDB.com

Beauty and the Beast (1991)

Directors: Gary Trousdale, Kirk Wise
Stars: Paige O’Hara, Robby Benson and Richard White

There is something truly magical about Disney. It is the fantasy it creates of a world where issues can be overcome, where evil falls and good triumphs, where all things end in the most spectacular of ways. But the endings have never been my favourite part. I also like to see where the characters begin. And this is why Beauty and the Beast is still my favourite Disney film. Not just Disney “princess” film, but Disney film overall. And it is all because of who Belle is at the beginning of the film.

The first time you meet Belle she is walking into the village and the whole town erupts in song around her. The way she treats people through this sequence is what I love and the fact that she is strong, intelligent, polite, respectful, humble, and the same to all people. Her sense of equality breaks through the walls of the judgment she faces from the town, and even when it comes to the ghastly Gaston, she is polite and dismisses him respectfully, if only a little tersely. She is accepting of everyone and the one person she tells her true judgments to is her father, and even then she gives reasonable accounts of why she dislikes someone like Gaston.

Her whimsy, strength, sacrifice, boldness, and adventurous nature continue to be what shapes her throughout the film. When she comes up against the Beast her response is one of fearlessness and willingness to take him on and see past the harsh exterior of his beastly appearance. This is what I love about Belle. I love her character for every single moment of this film, there is never a point when I don’t like her or disagree with what she does. She is honest and kind and thinks of others as well as herself. She is encouraging and joyous of everyone and seeks to treat them as she would like to be treated. The only moment when I think she does the wrong thing is when she goes into the west wing where the Beast has forbidden her to go, but even then I would’ve done the same, just not on the first night I was there… And even then you expect it because, let’s be honest, the Beast is asking for it as soon as he says it’s “forbidden”.

Belle was my role model as I was growing up. She was my heroine of all literature. It was her intelligence and strength that captivated me and made me want to be her. I didn’t necessarily want to fall in love with a prince and live in a big castle but I did want to be strong and wise and kind.

Who has your role model been from a film, book, tv series, or other form of literature?

A Love Story Without A Marriage At The End – Brave

Brave - Official Poster - from IMDB.com

Brave – Official Poster – from IMDB.com

Brave (2012)

Directors: Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman, and Steve Purcell
Writers: Mark Andrews (screenplay) and Steve Purcell (screenplay) and Brenda Chapman (screenplay) and Irene Mecchi (screenplay), and Brenda Chapman (story)
Stars: Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connolly and Emma Thompson

One of my favourite Spice Girls’ song is Mama because it’s not your usual soppy song but it’s about girls gaining understanding about their mums and what they have had to put up with as they have raised us. It speaks of a kind of love which is unique, frustrating, and that triumphs in forgiveness and humility. It is simply beautiful.

Brave is not your typical Disney Princess story. It’s the story of a girl who is faced with a situation which is unpleasant any which way she looks and with a mother who, although trying to do what is best for her daughter, is trying to push her daughter along a path that clashes with everything her daughter feels. It is about women with fierce pride and about their tortured journey to try and communicate and understand each other’s point of view.

Disney has once again created a beautiful tale of strong female characters and a story that reflects our day and age. The idea of independence, of choice, and of the power to be who you are is one that has really been taking shape for a while now but has really come out in our narratives recently. And I love it. It is a wonderfully powerful role model and heroine for young women and allows us to break out and explore the world in our own way. It is about coming to the realisation that our mother’s want the best for us, but that we also need to teach them as much as they teach us. Ultimately it is a love story between mother and daughter.

I loved this film because it was typical Disney with it’s great comic timing in animation and its brilliant narrative of adventure, discovery, forgiveness, and triumph. The biggest surprise in this film is that there isn’t really an “evil” that the protagonist is fighting against. There is a witch but she isn’t necessarily evil, and there is a mad bear but he’s just sick with power and loneliness. There is no evil villain but there is the battle of pride which Merida and her mother have to come through. It is this aspect that makes the film different from other Disney princess films and appealing to me as a viewer. I didn’t have high expectations for Brave because I was afraid it was going to be underwhelming like Princess and the Frog was. But Brave really blew me away as it was a beautiful animation and narrative that made me laugh and sigh and come out of feeling uplifted. And that’s what Disney films are meant to do right? They are meant to make you dream and make you feel like anything is possible in the world. Merida is a wonderfully strong heroine and I loved this film so much it may end up bumping Tangled down into third place in my top Disney films list. Beauty and The Beast will always be my favourite but Brave is about a restored mother/daughter relationship and that is a wonderful breath of fresh air in Disney films as it makes up for all those evil step-mothers and their mistreatment of their children. Now we have a magnificent mother character in Disney.