They are everywhere. On the internet, in shops, on posters, on the radio. New Disney princesses. By this, I mean: Frozen, Tangled, Moana and Brave. Frozen is of course the most mainstream one. Maybe that is why I haven’t really liked it for such a long time.
However, recently I’ve seen all the movies in French as a listening exercise and I’ve fallen for them. I’ve seen so many thoughts and meanings that I had missed before. I’ve realised that not only are these movies so popular with kids for a reason, but they also completely change the perception of Disney fairy tales as our generation knows them from childhood. And I love it.
You see, the Disney fairy tale as we know it usually consists of a helpless princess who goes through something and is saved by a beautiful prince in the end.
Snow White is saved by a kiss.
Cinderella is a poor woman in a terrible situation saved – once again – by a prince.
Sleeping Beauty – here we go with the kiss again.
The list could go on and on. Even though I have to admit that Beauty and the Beast is not so bad. Beauty at least does something. She is not just a passive beauty waiting for somebody to rescue her. And Ariel is not passive either – however, she sacrifices her own life for a charming prince. Charming princes are everywhere. As if love wasn’t anything else.
And that’s why I love new Disney princesses so much. Because they fight against these gender stereotypes and they highlight different and very important matters.
Take FROZEN, for instance. This is a story about sisters. And even though there is a romantic plot line, it is in no way the most important one. Also, I adore what they did with the act of pure love – Anna searches for some man to kiss her in order to save her, but in the end she jumps in front of her own sister to sacrifice herself, which breaks the curse more effectively than any kiss would ever do, if you ask me. That is a great twist which points out the importance of sisterhood and love as a whole, not only in the romantic sense. This is something completely new in terms of Disney princesses.
BRAVE. That’s the most obvious example of all. A story about a princess who loves horse-riding, climbing mountains, running in the woods, shooting from a bow and hates pretending to be a lady.
It’s great that there is a fairy tale of this kind because there are so many amazing girls in the world who are of the same nature as Merida and who shouldn’t be ashamed for who they are. Old Disney fairy tales always set an example of an elegant kept tender woman in a beautiful dress. But women are not just this. And it’s important to know that if you’re a girl growing up.
The main plot is about the power of motherhood and misunderstanding between a mother and a daughter, between two totally different worlds and two totally different approaches to what it means to be a woman. And I think that’s another completely new thing in the Disney world.
MOANA. This has beaten Beauty and the Beast on my Disney ranking, which means A LOT because I absolutely adore Beauty and the Beast. But Moana is just incredible.
It’s not a love story – there is not even a slight romantic plot line, which is a refreshing change. Moana is about following our dreams, about finding our purpose in the world, about exploring what lies beyond the horizon, about setting some goals and achieving them no matter what.
It’s about our environment and how it’s important to treat it kindly and with respect. The strong ecological thought can influence children even though they might not realise it yet and the feminine element in the form of Mother Nature is just beautiful. Also, I really appreciate the fact that Moana’s pets are a pig and a chicken. I love love love Moana.
The last one is TANGLED. Of the 4 fairy tales mentioned, this one is the most similar to the typical Disney plot, as I see it. However, it’s still very different. Because:
- The male protagonist is not a prince. Yay!
- Rapunzel is not defenceless. Even though she has never been to the real world before, which gives her a huge disadvantage as she must rely on other people (I don’t think that’s bad for the plot, btw.), she is smart and creative and is able to get out of various situations on her own.
- Rapunzel and Flynn are equal. And that’s what I love the most about the movie. Sometimes Flynn saves Rapunzel – and sometimes Rapunzel saves Flynn. And in the end he dies while trying to protect her and her tear of sadness and love brings him back to life (which wouldn’t be possible if she didn’t have magic in her veins, of course, but that’s not the important thing now).
And so even though Tangled IS a love story, it’s the best Disney love story ever. Because it’s based on equality and true love and a relationship developed over some amount of time, not just some affection for each other after one dance.
All in all, I am really content with the plots and princesses that Disney creates nowadays. I think that it’s super important to see such fairy tales while growing up, since they send out important messages and they show us that we should love ourselves, our family, our friends, our partners and also our environment.
These are the kinds of fairy tales I am proud to say I love. These are the kinds of fairy tales worth watching. And I can’t wait for Disney creating a new one.
Plus, there are awesome songs in all of these films.
Uhm, uhm, and this is the best one: