The Disney Evolution
The Disney Castle
The Disney archetype has been set and predictable for ages. Towards the dawn of the twenty-first century, however, things slowly and gradually began to change - many would argue for the better. No longer was there a predictable and seemingly helpless damsel in distress, relying on a big, strong, handsome man to sweep in at the nick of time and save the day. A happily ever after didn't necessarily mean relying on a hero to come in and make everything better. Sometimes, a hero meant recognizing the potential within yourself. Sometimes a hero meant recognizing the potential within yourself. Sometimes a hero rose out of the ashes of tragedy and realizing that there is a bit of hero and villain within us all. this change has been instrumental in changing the way a younger generation began to see themselves, and can provide powerful and meaningful messages to the youth who are seeing these movies today. This hub will look deeper at three of these movies that I personally enjoy, and see as important tools in the way that we look at ourselves and others.
Although a princess, Merida is not like any Disney princess yet seen. Brave was released in 2012, and although it seems to fit the Disney pattern initially, viewers soon realize that Merida is no ordinary princess. She does not want to conform to the traditions of her Scottish people and marry a prince after a test of skill. She wins the right through her superior archery skills to claim her OWN hand, and to truly be her own woman - much to the chagrin of her traditional (and perceived to be overbearing) mother.
When Queen Elinor voices her displeasure, and destroys Merida's prized possession, Merida runs off into the woods, where she encounters - what else - a witch. The witch grants her one wish, that will become permanent if not revoked within a certain period of time. The wish, however, does not turn out as anyone expected. Merida, her mother and her triplet younger brothers find themselves in a race against time to break the wish and return things back to normal before it is too late.
In this suspenseful, animated adventure, romantic love is not even truly introduced. Instead, is the bond of familial love that defines and creates this film into the classic tale of a non-typical Disney princess. The villain is not a person, it's a mentality that demonstrates that you truly should be careful what you wish for. Princess Merida and Queen Elinor recognize that their love for each other is stronger than what they may wish for each other in their own unique differences, and this film focuses on accepting differences rather than fighting against them. Written with incredible humor, tact and a deeply moving plot, this film paved the way for the two Disney films soon to follow and keep the new trend going.
I watched this film at home, having missed it in theaters. Although the music and the lyrics to the songs were everywhere, I managed to go into it with a completely open mind, unsure of what to expect. There was nothing that could have prepared me for the power of the film, and the way that it impacted me on multiple levels. Yes, it is animated. Yes, parts of it are predictable. But I never saw the ending coming, and I was surprised and pleased by the overall result in ways that I could not have imagined.
The animated adventure begins with two sisters in a kingdom in Norway. Elsa was born with a gift - a gift that is often mistaken as a curse. Elsa can freeze the world upon a whim, and while her child-like innocence is in full bloom, tragedy strikes. Elsa learns that her power is potentially dangerous, and that along with great good, she is also capable of harming others with her abilities. She grows to fear her gift, and isolates herself from her sister Anna at the request of her royal parents. When their parents are killed in an accident, Anna and Elsa are alone to face the world, and Elsa is soon to be named queen when she comes of age.
Although Frozen does contain a typical handsome prince, he is not the hero of the story. Elsa and Anna are - and their love is truly strong enough to conquer the eternal winter that Elsa inadvertently created when her powers were accidentally discovered in a moment of heightened emotion.
This movie demonstrates emphatically without question that some types of love are stronger than the romantic variety, and with a plethora of adorable, silly and heroic figures, it truly is one of my favorite Disney films to date. It is a truly beautiful and moving story that defies the Disney stereotype and creates a new breed of hero that will live on in generations to come.
When Disney originally released Sleeping Beauty in 1959, it fit the typical Disney storyline perfectly. A young, beautiful princess is cursed by an evil fairy queen to prick her finger on a spinning wheel's spindle, and fall into a death-like sleep. Only true love's kiss can awaken her from this evil curse, and she and her prince can live happily ever after. After an epic battle against the evil Maleficent, the handsome prince awakens sleeping beauty, and the two live happily ever after.
The 2014 release of Maleficent, however, takes the classic fairy tale and turns it on its head. Told from Maleficent's point of view, and narrated by the aged Sleeping Beauty herself, Maleficent is a remarkable tale about hope, beauty, love and the continual battle between each creature between revenge and respect - the battle for good and evil that rages within each of us throughout the course of our lives. Is anyone ever truly a villain or truly a hero? Or do we each face situations where we may act as one or the other based on circumstances that often seem to be spiraling outside of our control? There is potential for good in each of us, and potential for great harm as well. Learning who we want to be and how we react to different circumstances ends up defining us as people, and makes us into the characters that we are to be remembered as by those who are closest to us.
I went into this film expecting excellent graphics and 3D special effects, but not knowing which direction the story would go. I was afraid, that upon her betrayal, Maleficent would turn into the evil villain well known from the classic adaptation of the fairy tale, and that her character's growth would end at that point as the movie turned darker. While I don't want to spoil the film for others, I will say that I was pleasantly intrigued by the twists of the film, and the direction that the writers and directors went with its development. I was thoroughly pleased by the end result.
There is a little Maleficent within us all, and when we are willing to see past the stereotypical views that we so easily hold, there is hope and beauty on the horizon. All we have to do is open ourselves up to other possibilities and be willing to shift our perspectives in order to let the light in - and allow love to temper our reactions and responses to things that seem destined to break us in the beginning, but make us stronger overall.
What's Your Preference?
Which of these Movies did you enjoy the best?
While it's uncertain what the future films of Disney will contain, I think it's safe to say that the franchise has broken its long-held mold of what makes a compelling Disney story, and I look forward to new evolutions in storytelling in the future. With these three films alone, Disney has transformed itself into a franchise that is willing to move forward. It's not stuck in it's own archetype indefinitely, and it's willing to break boundaries and stereotypes to make compelling films that speak to a new, rising generation of children and adults alike. As I grow older, I am proud to say that I look forward to seeing what new, innovative and refreshing directions Disney will touch on in the future. These three films are films that I can watch again and again, and I'm proud to support the Disney franchise in the future for the work that they are doing on and off the screen.