Monthly Archives: February 2015

Sleeping Beauty: Adding Agency to a Dark and Gruesome Story

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I thought since I gave Once Upon a Dream such a hard time in our Love Songs Extravaganza, I would take a closer look at Sleeping Beauty and its many versions. Let me tell you, that is one messed up story. It’s so weird and sickening, firstly I don’t know how anyone came up with it. Secondly, I don’t know why Disney thought they could turn it into something normal-ish.

*I’m just telling you now, this post involves frank talk of virginity (and I’m not pleasant to it), rape (I will provide a trigger warning), and general feminist feelings. Mel and I have said this numerous times and I’m stating it again: We have no interest in debating the meaning of feminism. Now that the PSA is done, on with the meta!

By far, the Grimm’s version of Sleeping Beauty most resembles the Disney movie. But there are two other versions of Sleeping Beauty that are fairly well-known. One is by Charles Perrault and the other by a man named Giambattista Basile. They all share the similarity of the spindle, sleep, and a royal dude swooping in to save the day. They don’t, I was a little surprised to find, all share fairies.

Despite what I said about Once Upon a Dream, if you asked me which version of Sleeping Beauty was my favorite, I would tell you it was Disney’s. I’ve had a stage in my life where pretty much every Disney movie has been “my favorite.” Sleeping Beauty was no exception. So I gave this song a hard time a couple weeks ago, but don’t let that fool you.

I think Disney’s interpretation of the different fairy tale versions gives the story some more development, conflict, and definitely made it a lot less gorier and more accessible for audiences to enjoy. Let’s go through each version.

Perrault
The story starts out similar to what we’d expect. There is a big party for the christening of the princess. Seven out of the eight fairies are invited and then the eighth one shows up scorning this rejection. No one invited her because they thought she had died. She curses the princess but then the curse is lessened by the final fairy’s gift. This is all the stuff we know. We expect this. There is no prince, however, that is betrothed to the princess (like Philip and Aurora). And really, the fairies’ gifts aren’t important, not like in the Disney film.

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But after the random prince braves the thorns around the castle to wake her, something really weird happens. Apparently the prince’s mother is an ogre and orders the chef to cook her grandkids so she can eat them. The cook substitutes animals for the children, like when the Huntsman in Snow White tries to pass off a pig’s heart for the princess’. After she believes she ate her grandkids, the evil ogre queen then wants to eat the figure we know as Sleeping Beauty. The chef reunites the princess with her kids and again serves animal, but this time the ogre figures out and wants to kill the cook. The prince arrives to save the day and the queen dies in her own plot.

Definitely not the Disney story we know. So what was the moral of this story supposed to be? I have no clue. I know fairy tales were grim to teach children lessons, but was the lesson here? WHAT DOES THE CHILD EATING OGRE WOMAN REPRESENT?

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Okay, so what did Disney take from this story? Well, they took the notion of the fairies and one feeling rejected and taking revenge. They had one fairy able to reverse the curse a bit and put everyone to sleep while the princess slept. There were thorns around the castle and a prince and a kiss. There was the spindle. They also found Sleeping Beauty’s name. The princess in Perrault’s story names one of her children L’Aurore, which Disney changed to Aurora.

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The princess in this version has very little agency, much like our Aurora. The curse hangs over her head and has to be fulfilled before anything can move forward. As a result, the whole story takes place in a sort of waiting room and so the princess’ growth is skipped over to reach the conflict.

Both princesses are shielded from their gruesome fate—spindles being kept from them and living in a state of ignorance. Does it send the message women cannot take care of themselves? Why didn’t anyone ever tell the princess she was cursed? Can anything even be done? The king and queen thought they could trick fate by burning the spinning wheels.

Let’s pause on Perrault and move to Basile. TRIGGER WARNING: rape.

Basile
I am resisting the urge to swear heavily. Basile’s version is probably even more messed up that Perrault’s. Did you hear that? Something is worse than the child eating ogre.

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So Aurora is named Talia here and there is no evil fairy that curses her. Instead wise men/astrologers predict the future, totally annihilating the power role the fairies had in the previous version. ‘Fairy’ is not inherently female, but Disney made their fairies all women and the Perrault and Grimm version never state the sex of the fairies. Perhaps to leave it ambiguous or maybe they assumed we would assume female. Or this is me assuming female and demonstrating my own gender labeling based on expectations that ‘fairies’ are more feminine than masculine.

Anyway, Talia is asleep and her father is so miserable that he leaves the castle, unlike the previous story where everyone was put to sleep so they would be together once the curse was broken. By chance, a random king walks by and sees the castle. He goes inside and rapes Talia. Then he leaves because what else is he going to do with an unconscious woman? Talia somehow gives birth to twins and one of them sucks her finger. Similar to the Snow White story where she falls and the piece of apple she ate is dislodged from her throat so she wakes up, Talia’s baby sucks the spindle right out of her finger.

I want to just pause here. Look it’s 2015 and rape is still not treated with the respect and anger is deserves. I could throw statistics of rape at you, about how many women have been abused, how many men don’t think rape is a crime or that they can’t even properly define rape, how many rapists never serve time, how women are treated upon reporting the abuse, how sexual abuse is categorized as one of the most severe traumas a person can go through, victim blaming, not believing rape claims despite the number of women that lie about rape is astronomically low, etc.

Basile’s story was published in the 1600s, so if it’s still a mess today, you know it was then.

The worst thing about this might be how this story props up the rapist as the hero. After all, his raping of an unconscious woman he’d never met before, made her bear two children and one of them sucked the spindle right out of her finger! Thus, Talia would have never woken up if not for her rapist. That is so sickening and disgusting. It turns the villain into a hero and the victim and into someone that should be… grateful?

Back to the Golden Globes joke: “And Sleeping Beauty just thought she was getting coffee with Bill Cosby.” Look, it probably made sense even if you just knew the Disney story, but it makes more sense with Basile’s story for greater context.

Worse, when Talia wakes up and is confused and probably terrified she now has two babies, the king eventually returns. Just because he probably wanted to rape her again. Who knows? But probably. Of course he finds her and explains what happened AND THEY GET MARRIED.

I don’t think any woman would willingly choose to marry their rapists. On a related note, marital rape is another huge issue that many people refuse to admit or acknowledge. Husbands can’t rape their wives (and vice versa) because they’re married. No, I’m sorry. Consent once is not consent always. Both partners need to give consent every single time. Marriage does not equal ownership of the other person’s body.

But back to this story. Here’s more good news: The king is already married! Look at this raping, adulterous bastard! He’s the hero of the story, everyone. Basile, you need counseling. Neither of these things is okay.

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So the queen finds out about Talia and the babies. She writes Talia, pretending to be the king, and asks Talia to visit and bring the babies. Has Talia just been living in her castle with no subjects since waking up? Did Talia exist just to be raped?

Like Perrault’s story, the queen wants the cook to cook the babies and the cook substitutes animal meat. The queen serves it to the king and then tries to have Talia burned at the stake—as if Talia didn’t already have enough shit going on. The perfect king finds out what is going on and punishes the queen by burning her and marries Talia, as I mentioned above.

I hate how both these stories portray the queens as nothing more than evil, jealous women. How about putting some blame on the man? And why is cannibalism so prominent in both these stories? What is it a symbol of? It must be a symbol, right? It’s not an anti-cheating story since Sleeping Beauty and the king thwart the queen and are together in the end. Anyone, please, help.

Disney

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Okay, so Disney took these very weird stories and maybe some lesser known versions, too, and turned it into the pretty movie we now have.

The biggest change was reconstructing Aurora as a character and the love story. However, I’d say the love story more so since Aurora as a character is still pretty flat. She’s pretty, she sings, and she’s kind. Maleficent and the other fairies probably got the biggest face-lift, compared to Aurora.

Sleeping Beauty follows the pre-Renaissance Disney formula pretty well. It’s short, it’s got a one dimensional villain, a love story, and an un-dimensional princess. However, it upsets this mold in one crucial way. While we love to say Prince Eric is the first Disney prince with a personality, we have to admit that the first attempt at this was made with Philip.

  • Philip: A Healthier Love Story

Snow White and Cinderella preceded this film and firstly, both their princes were named Prince Charming. While Snow’s prince showed up briefly at the beginning and then again at the end and had a stalker-ish song, Cinderella’s prince had one line and was only present during the ball. By the time Disney made Sleeping Beauty, they’d also done Peter Pan and Lady and the Tramp, two films that had developed their male characters a little more. So they followed that trend with SB and we got Philip! Maybe we’d give Philip Eric’s title if he didn’t suddenly stop talking once he gets captured by Maleficent.

sleeping beauty phillip

Disney recognized how problematic and messed up some of SB’s stories were and knew it had to start by attempting to fix that with the love story. Aurora and Philip’s families know each other, which instantly reduces the creepy factor, but also makes the story more believable. Think about the other stories where a prince just randomly happens by the castle and goes inside. Disney’s idea of having the families be old friends means they can’t live too far apart and there’s higher probability their kids will meet. Of course, they’re also betrothed, but that doesn’t really play a part till later.

When they have their real first meeting in the forest, as you read when I talked about Once Upon a Dream, it didn’t sit as well with me. But after going over these stories again, it is ten times better and also probably a little uncomfortable because Sleeping Beauty is an uncomfortable story. Disney worked with the source material as best they could. Aurora initially refuses, as Talia probably would have had she been awake. Also, Disney pre-Renaissance ladies have a thing for running from their men. Snow White runs away as soon as she meets him and hides in the castle, while Cinderella runs at the ball.

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However, Philips proves himself to be semi-decent and they both go all googly-eyed over each other. While Aurora doesn’t fully run, she is reluctant at first. They make a plan to see each other later, both of them having no clue that everything is about to go bananas. Philip and Aurora return home—scenes we get to see! Which is so great. Philip is fleshed out here with the relationship with his father and showing us he’s determined to follow his own path. In Aurora’s scene we see that she feels like she got what she wanted in her song I Wonder.

Having them meet, while the audience knows they’re betrothed, and seeing them fall in love is so great. It makes us yell at the screen in frustration when Philip tells his father he’s not marrying Princess Aurora. It makes us sad for Aurora when she thinks she’ll be forced to marry someone else. It adds tension to the story as we wait for the revelation to strike both of them.

sleeping beauty dance

The love story ends on a healthy/happy note when Philip kisses her awake and breaks the spell. He reunites her with her family and they dance. Disney often uses dance as a symbol of love and intimacy and even elevates the scene by having them dance on a cloud. They’re on cloud nine, in the heavens, whatever you want to see there. But I take it to mean they’re insanely happy and all good things will come for them moving forward. Much better than the other versions!

  • Maleficent: A One Dimensional Villain, But a Total Badass

The evil fairy in Perrault’s and Bastile’s versions don’t do much besides show up in the beginning to curse the princess. Disney’s film integrated Maleficent into the story and made her totally awesome. Again, she is a flat character since she really hates Aurora for no reason and does nothing but try to destroy her life, but she’s compelling to watch and definitely plays a bigger role in the story than any other version.

sleeping beauty FOOLS

Because Disney gave more agency to the fairies, which I’ll get to soon, Maleficent has to spend a healthy part of the film trying to discover Aurora’s hideout. Her crow is an extension of her and we dislike that little shit as much as we dislike Maleficent.

Maleficent also captures Philip! She has so much more to do in this version, which is great. She’s also got minions to order around and can turn into a dragon and work her villainy like no one else. Maleficent stands in everyone’s way: the king and queen are afraid of her, her mission is to destroy Aurora, Philip needs to escape from her, and the fairies want her to stop destroying their flowers.

  • The Fairies

I know we all like to say the fairies were useless.

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However, Disney also gives them a bigger role. They don’t just lessen Maleficent’s curse, they also get names (as does everyone, actually!) and then come up with a way to hide Aurora. The fairies in the other versions were pretty useless, except when they put everyone to sleep. Here they also play a bigger role and raise Aurora. Of course, we skip over that period to get to the conflict, as I mentioned in Perrault’s section.

But we do spend some time with them getting ready for Aurora’s surprise party. We see the dress debacle which is so important since it carries though to the the final scene! The book closes with the dress still changing colors. They also chase after Aurora when Maleficent pulls her into the trance and lures her to the spindle. They care for the little girl they raised for sixteen years.

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Arguably, it’s really the fairies that save the day. They put everyone to sleep, not to mention tuck Aurora into bed and cry by her side. Then they sneak into Maleficent’s compound instead of just poofing in. They rescue Philip and do everything for him. Seriously. The fairies are useless since their magic fight alerts the crow and then they leave Aurora alone in the castle, but they do save the day. Which just goes to show you, we can’t all be the hero all the time.

  •  The Brothers Grimm

What else did Disney do to the story? Not much. I told you previously that the movie follows the Grimm’s tale closest. The Brothers Grimm really did the most work re-patching the story into anything we’d want to watch on screen.

The opening narration tells us the king and queen have wanted a child for a long time. In the Grimm story, they are also longing for a child and a frog pops out of nowhere and says they’ll have one. Cue the party!

The Grimm tale tells us why the fairies were invited, though they are called “wise women” here. Point is, they were invited so they’d be “kindly disposed towards the child.” And of course, one was not invited, the thirteenth (hehe), because they were short a place setting! Seriously? You’re a king and you can’t find another plate?

are you effing serious

The Disney movie cuts this detail out and Maleficent just pops up and scares the crap put of everyone.

sleeping beauty what an awkward situation copy

However, the fairies/wise women give gifts of beauty. The Grimm tale also has them give virtue and wealth among others we never hear. The Disney version subs in song. I like these changes since she doesn’t need more wealth—although, maybe they do need money to buy more plates. Song goes in line with Disney just fine since all their women and men sing.

Virtue is something I’m glad they cut that since the concept of “virginity” is just that, a concept. Women are pressured to be a virgin because it makes them pure and chaste and the moment they “give it away” or “lose it” they’re not worth anything anymore. Or they don’t have a “gift” to give to their husband. No, sorry, ladies. That is untrue. Don’t believe it. Does the man need a gift to give his wife? No, he doesn’t. While women are vilified for being a “prude” or a “slut,” so you can’t win either way, the concept of virginity does plague boys in a different way. Boys are encouraged to get rid of it as soon as possible. I could go on for hours about this and tell you that the hymen does not actually rip (so what is “virginity?”), but it’s time to get back to Sleeping Beauty.

Or, hey, maybe virtue didn’t mean virginity at all and again, that’s my own bias coming in. Maybe it just meant that she would be a good, moral person. But given the double standard around virginity and taking into account when the Grimm’s version was composed, I’m going to see it as purity.

Beauty is bothersome, but that’s Disney. And fairy tales. And everyone’s perception of women ever, throughout time.

sleeping beauty sad aurora

I know, Aurora. I know.

Same story goes on from here: last fairy lessens the severity of the curse, spindles are burned, and then it changes. Disney definitely ups the ante here and deepens the plot with having the fairies attempt to hide Aurora, as previously discussed.

Disney also found inspiration for some of its imagery from the Grimm story. See:

“She climbed up the narrow, winding stairs and arrived at a small door.”

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That does remind us of the scene Disney put together, doesn’t it? I love the music in that scene, the eerie tenseness it provides. The green tint also strengthens the atmosphere. It makes it very clear to us that Aurora is in a trance, something none of the other stories have done. It gives Maleficent’s villainy more power, something Disney did consistently.

Here’s the moment the prince approaches the castle:

“When the prince approached the thorn hedge, it was nothing but large, beautiful flowers that separated by themselves, allowing him to pass through without harm, but then behind him closed back into a hedge.”

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The fairies do change Maleficent’s arrows during the escape to flowers. Different context, yes, but Disney probably pulled some inspiration from this moment. Side note: the escape is one of my favorite scenes.

What to Take Away
I know I said a lot of things. As you can see, Sleeping Beauty has a long history and the stories are really bizarre and pretty messed up.

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Disney took the skeleton of the Perrault and Basile’s versions, while embracing the Grimm tale more fully. They left out the creepy cannibalism aspects and the rape and added more conflict and agency to the story.

The fairies bestow gifts, lessen the curse, come up with a plan to shield Aurora, fail, put everyone to sleep, help Philip defeat Maleficent.

Aurora is not just the princess that is cursed, pricks her finger, and sleeps. She has friends in the forest, wants to fall in love and does, and then sleeps. Disney did a good job with working what they had.

Philip is not a rapist! Yay, Philip! Instead he’s not just the nameless prince that happens about. He meets Aurora, he’s determined to find her again, he’s really close with his horse (original Sven and Kristoff, anyone?), and a good dancer.

The characters are better, while still be arguably flat. The more offensive aspects of the story have been erased: the rape, “virtue,” and jealous wives/queens.

In short: Disney took this dark and gruesome tale and turned it into a story we heard once upon a dream. (Cheesy? I tried.)

What do yo guys think? Have you read the original Sleeping Beauty stories? WHAT DOES THE ORGRE CHILD EATING QUEEN MEAN? Someone help me.

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Cheers,

M&M

What’s in a Name? The Problematic Aspects of Disney’s Early Female Antagonists

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There are some elements of the early Disney Princess films that don’t quite sit right with me. One of those things is how Disney characterizes their early female antagonists. Their motivations (when they have them) are shallow, their characters are lacking in depth, and the naming for the first two is incredibly troubling. Why is that? Well, we’re going to delve into labels, motivations, and the other messy aspects of Disney’s earliest villains and find out.

Evil Queen, Cinderella’s Stepmother, and the Problematic Aspects

Snow White and Cinderella existed in the early days of Disney, when the writers were still finding their footing with developing characters. This is especially evident in their antagonists, who are given titles rather than names, and motivations that feel very flat. They’re also very much a product of their times, where much of a women’s worth in story revolves around her beauty and her status.

Snow White’s stepmother is named the Evil Queen, a simplistic title that paints her as an antagonist. Meanwhile, Cinderella’s stepmother is often referred to as, well, Cinderella’s stepmother. Cinderella even calls her “Stepmother” in the movie. Interestingly, her stepmother does have an actual name – it’s Lady Tremaine, which is really badass and sounds awesome – but it’s never used. Instead, the movie focuses on her title: Stepmother.

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Both movies share similar plots at the start: farther loses his wife and wants to provide his daughter with a motherly figure, so he marries a wealthy woman. But the father inevitably dies (because Disney has this weird stigma against families being happy, I guess) and the daughter is treated cruelly because the stepmother is envious of her beauty.

I’ve never liked the terrible reputation stepmothers get in older fairytales. They’re painted with this very weird canvas, where they’re evil and dislike children and end up being antagonists. Which, first of all, it’s very awkward that stepmothers were evil, since this was a time when a lot of children had stepparents due to losing family to disease. Second of all, the fact that these are older women who are villainized for their envy of their younger, more beautiful children points to a deeper societal issue.

We live in a society where a woman’s worth lies in her beauty, rather than her intellect, or her talent, or her compassion. Think about Hollywood: how many older actresses get fulfilling roles in movies, verses male actors, who have a longer shelf life? For men, appearance isn’t as big of a factor, but for women, it’s a huge aspect, and it’s very biased. For example, think about the Oscars: how many women were asked about their appearance on the Red Carpet, while men were asked about their roles or their career? There’s a huge messy double standard here, and Snow White and Cinderella both have it.

snow white evil queen mirror

In Snow White, we have the Evil Queen, who is so envious of Snow White’s beauty that she wants to eliminate her from the picture. A mirror tells her she’s not the fairest woman in the land anymore, and she decides that the logical solution would be to send her Huntsman to kill Snow White. There is so much wrong with this that I don’t even know where to start.

One thing that really bothers me about this movie is that the mirror is a man, so we have a man judging a woman’s self-worth and beauty, and deeming another woman as better than her.

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We also have this weird, uncomfortable message about how it’s okay if you’re young and beautiful, and that makes you a good person, but if you’re an older woman, and you strive for beauty, well, that makes you horrible and evil and cruel. (And in the Evil Queen’s case, you lose your beauty and die as a punishment.) It villainizes the older woman, and puts the younger woman on a pedestal. It gives us an uncomfortable message that says: “you should be beautiful, but you shouldn’t focus on your beauty, because that makes you evil.” It’s not right, and it’s jarring that Snow White came out almost 60 years ago, yet this is still an issue in our society today.

cinderella and stepmother

Cinderella focuses a bit more on status, but beauty still factors in. While Lady Tremaine doesn’t straight up tell us that she’s jealous of Cinderella, she doesn’t have to! Because the narration flat out tells us that Lady Tremaine is “bitterly jealous of Cinderella’s charm and beauty” as she lurks in the shadows and glowers at her.

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So Cinderella becomes her stepmother and stepsisters’ servant and has her status revoked just because Lady Tremaine is jealous of her beauty and charm. It’s just as messy as the Snow White/Evil Queen situation.

Lady Tremaine isn’t trying to murder Cinderella, which is progress I guess, but she’s treating her stepdaughter like dirt just so that she can feel above her and feel more beautiful than her. It’s about status and beauty, and competition between women, and it’s sickening. Of course, it doesn’t even work out in Lady Tremaine’s favor, because no matter how hard she pushes to keep Cinderella beneath her and her children, Cinderella rises above and even elevates past her status by marrying a prince.

While I do think Cinderella sends some great messages, like never giving up on your dreams, it also has that same ugly undercurrent of competition that Snow White had, and a more uncomfortable message that beauty = good, but wanting beauty/status is unacceptable.

Cinderella gets a higher status, yes, but she doesn’t strive for it in any way, she kind of walks into it once she meets the prince. And Snow White’s prince just pops up out of nowhere to rescue her and elevate her to a higher status as well. Both movies suggest that beauty is something you should be born with and if you’re not that’s too bad, that status is something that should be gained through a man, and working for either negates you as a cruel person who deserves the worst to happen to you.

That’s not a healthy message to send whatsoever.

We get off the weird status/beauty boat with Maleficent, but unfortunately, we also don’t see a ton of development antagonist-wise either.

Maleficent: Badass and Not Much Else

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Maleficent is a step up from our two previous villains. She has a name that is not a title, and she is addressed by it throughout! She isn’t only her title, the way that the Evil Queen and Cinderella’s stepmother are, so that’s progress already.

There also isn’t the weird envious undercurrent about beauty and competition with Maleficent and Aurora. Maleficent doesn’t really even seem to have anything against Aurora herself; she just curses her to spite her parents, who didn’t invite her to the christening for Aurora. Which kind of leads us to her only motive being…well, that she’s petty. You don’t invite her to your party? She’ll curse your infant! Sucks for you, maybe you should’ve invited her so she didn’t ruin your life.

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While her motives aren’t that fleshed out, it’s a step-up from before, considering the lack of female-on-female hate. Maleficent may be petty, but it’s not solely focused on women. Remember that great speech she gave to Phillip when she took him captive, about how she’d keep him locked up until he was old, then let him go rescue Aurora? Her revenge and malevolence extends to everyone, so at least in that regard she’s pretty equal about it.

Unfortunately, Maleficent just doesn’t have a ton of depth, period. Is she an awesome villain that is a great obstacle for our characters? Yes, definitely; she has a great presence and she’s incredibly chilling in a wonderful way. But beyond her pettiness and her badass nature, she doesn’t really have a reason for why she does what she does. She just seems to be in it to mess with everyone else, which I guess is valid.

I have a lot of mixed feelings about Maleficent’s lack of depth. She is definitely a step up from the Evil Queen and the Stepmother, but it’s clear that at this point, there’s still a lot of room for improvement antagonist-wise in the Disney catalogue. She is a cool stepping stone to observe, though. Sleeping Beauty came out nine years after Cinderella, in 1959, and in between the two, Robin Hood, Peter Pan, and Lady and the Tramp all came out, which is where we started to see a bit of improvement on the antagonist scale.

It’s also interesting to point out that all three female villainesses have the same manipulative undercurrent. They all have this knack for subtlety, and convincing others to do what they want, and a cunning that’s very impressive. That aspect carries onto a lot of later Disney villains, so in that regard, some good things did come out of our early villainesses.

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While no one can deny that all three of the early antagonists in the Disney Princess films have a chilling presence and some impressive skills of manipulation, their lack of depth and the uncomfortable messages sent in their conflicts with the protagonists show where Disney hadn’t quite found their niche.

What do you guys think? Do the portrayals of the Evil Queen, Lady Tremaine and Maleficent have some issues? Which of these three ladies is your favorite villainess?

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Cheers,

M&M

10 Reasons ATLA is Amazing

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If you can believe it, it’s been 10 years to the day since Avatar: The Last Airbender sprang onto TV screens and made an impact. This show is one of my absolute favorite animated shows ever and this milestone is worth celebrating. Thus, I’ve created a list of the top ten reasons why Avatar: The Last Airbender is both revolutionary and also quite amazing. Enjoy!

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1. The cast is incredibly diverse.

Despite what the white-washed movie adaptation may have you believe, ATLA does a remarkable job of being diverse. Each nation draws from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds, resulting in wonderfully diverse characters of all molds. The Air Nomads are based on Tibetan monks. The Fire Nation draws from many Eastern cultures, most prominently imperialist Japan. The Water Tribe draws from Inuit and aboriginal cultures, among others. The Earth Kingdom is mainly based on China, but also contains other influences, since it’s the ‘melting pot’ of the four nations.

This diversity extends to the cast. For example, Katara and Sokka, our two secondary leads, are people of color. Toph is blind. Teo is in a wheelchair. But just as Sokka and Katara’s skin color does not define them, Toph and Teo’s disabilities do not define them. Toph learned to use her other senses to enhance her bending experience and fight in a way that no one had ever considered, while Teo uses his inventiveness to fight and navigate without ever having to use his legs.

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And while the scales were a bit unbalanced gender-wise in season 1, season 2 turns the tide and introduces us to a stream of amazing female characters. And by the end of season 3, the final Gaang is split 3:3 gender-wise.

ATLA’s diversity is absolutely one of its biggest strengths, but it’s not its only strength.

2. The show routinely tackled hard topics with grace.

For being a children’s show, ATLA tackles a lot of heavy topics. Some examples:

Katara tackles a cesspool of sexism in the Northern Water Tribe in order to gain a waterbending teacher, while Sokka overcomes his own internalized sexism and learns to see women as equals.

Aang must deal with the genocide of the Air Nomads, and his own feelings when a group of non-benders attempts to rehabilitate one of the Air Temples, essentially erasing parts of his culture from existence in the process.

Sexism, abuse, the harsh realities of war and warfare, genocide, culture erasure…the show tackles so many amazing things, and it tackles them with such class and an unflinching strength.

It doesn’t forget that the main characters are survivors of a Hundred Year War: rather, it hones in on what they’ve lost, and how the war has shaped them as individuals.

Everyone’s lost something. Katara and Sokka have lost their mother to a Fire Nation raid and their father left to fight in the war, leaving them adrift to raise themselves. Zuko was banished from his home and lost a mother and a cousin. Aang has lost his entire culture.

Something else important the show also doesn’t forget: the characters aren’t just fighting a losing war. They’re children fighting in a losing war.

There’s this amazing line in the second episode of the show, when Zuko and Aang encounter each other, and Zuko is shocked that Aang of all people is the Avatar. Since the Avatar has been missing for 100 years, he was expecting a frail old man. Instead, he finds a determined preteen.

“You’re just a boy,” Zuko says, a look of disbelief on his face.

Aang, unnerved, retorts, “And you’re just a teenager.”

The main cast is made up of kids, and like most kids, they don’t always know what they’re doing. They’re lost. They don’t know how to cope with the harsh reality of their situation. They make huge mistakes, and they fight, and they can be immature and insensitive. But ultimately, their youth is also a benefit, because they have a hope that the older generation, hardened by years of conflict, doesn’t share. Their hope and determination is what turns the tide and wins them the war, and it’s what saves their world from utter annihilation as well. Pretty good for some kids trying to fight a war, huh?

3. There was no black and white, only shades of gray.

In tackling war in media, it’s easy to be very one-sided, and focus on good vs. evil, rather than fleshing out both sides.

ATLA focuses on both sides of the war.

While Firelord Ozai is undisputedly the absolute worst, the show time and time again proves to us that the Fire Nation itself is not purely evil. Characters like Zuko and Iroh show us grayer members of the Fire Nation, and season 3 takes time to give us a glimpse of Fire Nation citizens and show us the propaganda that fuels the war, and that not everyone is all for it.

The show also takes time to show us that the other nations aren’t always purely good either. Antagonists like Long Feng and General Fong are opportunists, who use the war and the main characters for their own purposes to further their agenda. Other characters, like Jet and Hama, seek revenge against others for wrongdoings, but in ways that aren’t always morally right.

Even the main characters are forced to deal with morality. For Aang, deciding whether he can kill the Fire Lord or not to end the war is one of his biggest moral dilemmas. For Katara, it’s deciding what to do when she finds out that her mother’s murderer is still alive. Even Zuko is forced to decide more than once between his family and his beliefs. Their decisions help shape who they are as characters, and showcase their own mortality.

4. The show is inspired by Eastern culture and mythology, rather than Western culture and Western myths, giving it a distinct and unique palette.

One of the fascinating things about ATLA is that unlike many shows, it’s inspired mainly by Eastern culture and mythology. Bryke (aka  Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino, the show’s creators) purposely wanted to tackle a different side of the world on their show, and focused on Eastern philosophies and mythology in order to craft the world of ATLA.

The three main Eastern philosophies ATLA draws from are Hinduism, Buddhism and Taoism. The main idea of the show is actually derived straight from Hindu mythology. The term “Avatar” comes from a Sanskirt word (Avatāra) which means descent. Why is that important? Well…

“In Hindu mythology, deities manifest themselves into Avatars to restore balance on earth, usually during a period of great evil” (Influences on the Avatar series).

Hmm, now that sounds familiar, doesn’t it? That’s the entire concept of the show. 😉

The four elements the show focuses on are also exactly the same as those used in Hinduism, although the fifth element, space – or the Aether – is different than energy. However, the concept itself is quite similar to an element introduced late in the show: energy-bending. And let’s take a look at something Aang sees while exploring his chakras:

atla spaceeee

The imagery is very cosmic, which might be a reference to space. Creative little shout-out to where the writers got their inspiration from.

Speaking of chakras, the concept of chakras comes from both Hinduism and Buddhism. Chakras are centers of life force and energy, and guess what? That’s one of the issues Aang deals with as an Avatar: unblocking some chakras in order to unlock the Avatar State freely.

Guess what else is inspired by Buddhism? The process of finding the new Avatar, surprisingly enough, which reflects that of finding the new Dalai Lama. Items are presented to, and choosing the right ones unearths who the future Dalai Lama is. There’s a similar situation shown on the show, when Aang is told of his Avatar status: the monks tell him about how they presented toys to young Airbenders, and Aang picked the four that belonged to past Avatars, thus showing his connection to them and his familiarity with them.

Taoism influences a lot of the characters’ ideals, including the ‘go with the flow’ mentality waterbenders hold dear, the concept of chi as energy, the Taoist concept of wuwei (“doing nothing” or rather, acting without direct action), which both Bumi and Toph utilize, the existence of a spirit world, and the concept of yin and yang (Influences on the Avatar series).

atla tui la

Pretty interesting, how ideals can shape a show into something so diverse.

5. The bending!

Like I mentioned above, there are four main elements that the characters can manipulate: water, earth, fire, and air. Each facet of bending comes with its own unique traits and strengths – and, going off of that Eastern influence, each style is based on a different style of Chinese martial arts. Bryke even consulted a martial arts expert, Sifu Kisu, to make sure that each one was portrayed accurately and to find styles that would ideally fit the style of the bending and element itself.

For Airbending, the creators chose Ba Gua, also known as “circle walking.” Essentially, this means airbenders use circular movements when bending. This causes the style to be more about defense rather than offense.

atla goading zhao

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Since they’re always moving, no one can get in a hit. Air could easily be a deadly element, so thankfully it’s wielded by pacifists like Aang. 😉

 

Waterbending draws from Tai Chi. It’s “less about strength, more about body alignment, structure, breath, and visualization” according to Sifu Kisu. Water is used like a whip. Waterbending is such an interesting element, because it can heal, but it can also hurt.

atla healing

atla katara's water arms

Katara herself is both a warrior and a healer, and manages to represent both sides of water: its beauty and its strength.

 

Earthbending is mainly influenced by the HunGar style of Kung-Fu. It’s a style “known for its strong stances and its rooting to the ground.”

atla earthbending bumi

atla toph

Interestingly, we also get a second style – Chu Gar – used for Toph. Because of Toph’s blindness, she uses her other senses to compensate and thus bends in a way that other earthbenders don’t. She listens and then acts, using her other senses as a sort of Spider sense or echolocation in order to root out attacks before they happen. It’s quite fascinating to watch.

 

Finally, firebending draws inspiration from Northern Shaolin Kung-Fu. It’s a “strong, dominant style that uses powerful hand and leg movements” and “[emphasizes] long-range techniques; wide stances, quick advances and retreats, kick and leaping techniques…” along with “quickness, agility, and aggressive attacks.”

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atla zhao

Fire is often painted as an element of aggression, but bending lightning, a much harder sub-skill, is defined by peace of mind.

atla azula

Much like waterbending, firebending has dual sides to it. Both aggression and peace are required, and keeping emotions in check can be handy, but knowing how to unleash them is just as necessary. Zuko has plenty of issues with this, especially when it comes to conquering his temper. Lucky for him, he has the master of Zen to instruct him, who is willing to put up with his outbursts (and offer him tea.)

atla calming jasmine teaatla zuko season one

 

 

6. The fight scenes!

Okay, this might seem directly connected to the point above, and it kind of is, but every time I rewatch this show, the fight scenes suck me in. They’re choreographed in such a masterful, beautiful way, and whether it’s an Agni Kai, a water-fire duel, or just two swordsmen sparring, it’s beautiful to watch. Instead of going on a long ramble, I’ll just post some glorious gifs, so you can see what I mean:

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atla katara-pakku fight (1.18) atla ty lee's fight style

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Beauteous, isn’t it? You know what aids those fight scenes? The show’s score.

7. The score!

The score of this show is so, so pretty. There are intense instrumentals for fight scenes, somber sounds for the show’s darker moments, lighter-hearted melodies for when things are going good…

The score of the show is something that really defines it. It really fits the Eastern high-fantasy epic feeling of the show, and certain bits come to mind whenever I think of the show. In order for you to get the ATLA score experience I’m posting one of my favorite bits of the score below. Enjoy! I hope it leads you to search for more. 😉

 

8. The writers showed us all kinds of women.

ATLA’s dedication to developing its female side of the cast and giving us lots of amazing, diverse ladies is one of my absolute favorite elements of the show. We get all kinds of women on ATLA.

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Grandmothers. Mothers. Daughters. Sisters. Wives.

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Girlfriends. Best friends. Girly-girls. Tomboys. Fierce warriors. Ruthless antagonists. Stoic women, who hide their emotions behind a mask.

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Emotional women, who aren’t afraid to let people see them cry. Strong women – and not just Strong Female Characters.

I’m talking about women who are strong in all sorts of ways.

Women who are physically strong: the ones who can lift mountains and channel lightning through their veins, or the ones that fight with fans and knives and bare hands, not letting their lack of bending deter them from success.

Women that are emotionally strong: the ones that are the rock of the group, and hold everyone together when the world is falling apart around them. These are the women whose strength lies in their compassion and empathy for others.

Women who are mentally strong: whose determination and wit and peace of mind allow them to be more than anyone could ever imagine. Smart women, who bury themselves in books and plot and manipulate and influence the world in profound ways. They’re the ones who stop and think before they act, and thus keep others out of harm’s way.

The women of ATLA are all these things and more!

9. The characters!

I have such a strong love for the characters on this show. Everyone is so wonderful and so fleshed out and so just…ugh, I have so many feelings about them. I could probably write a whole meta about the characters, but I’ll try and be brief here.

In ATLA, every character has a purpose. More importantly, every main character has a point. Just like the Golden Trio in Harry Potter, each member of the Aang Gaang holds the group together and brings something to it that would leave a void if they were gone. For the sake of avoiding a ton of spoilers for those who haven’t watched the show, I’ll stick with the main trio that we start out with in season 1.

Sokka is the group’s strategist. He calls himself “the plan man” and really, that’s what he is, because without him, they would be ambling around without much direction. He has a very analytical mind, which leads him to spot things that others can’t. He can also think on his feet, which is a very handy trait to have during conflict. It helps that he’s handy with a boomerang. He’s also the humorous one, although his wit tends to be more sarcastic than anything, and people don’t always quite get it.

atla sokka calculating

Katara is the one who holds everything together. She’s the hopeful one. She’s a healer. She’s compassionate. She’s the one who always tries to find the best in people, no matter what, and refuses to give up on the people she loves. Without her, there’s a lot that wouldn’t have happened. She’s also an amazing waterbender, who basically teaches herself and ends up becoming a waterbending master and teaching the Avatar himself the intricacies of waterbending. She’s stubborn, motherly, and wonderful. Like Hermione, she can be a bit of a know-it-all, but even she’ll fold when she’s wrong and admit it.

atla katara as the painted lady

Aang is our hero, but he’s so much more than that. He’s the innocent pacifist caught up in a Hundred Year War, with great power waiting to be unlocked. As the Avatar, he can bend all four elements, which is pretty handy, except at the start of the show, he hasn’t learned them all yet, which is part of why he ends up with Katara and Sokka in the first place. Aang is impulsive and naïve, silly and kind-hearted, with the weight of the world on his shoulders. Without Katara and Sokka, Aang wouldn’t have a support system, and he’d also be missing out on some pretty amazing friends as well. 😉

atla aang

The Aang Gaang holds each other together and aids each other in amazing ways. And the more members they take on, the stronger they grow and the more they learn. But enough about that. Let’s get to the last element…

10. The shipping!

The shipping on this show is actually really cute. The main canon relationships are built up in a wonderfully healthy, unique way, and all three main ships are slow-burn to some degree. During the airing of the show (and even now, I’m pretty sure), people got fired up about their ships. Zutara or Kaatang? Taang or Tokka? I’ll admit that I wasn’t too bad in the shipping wars, and I’ve grown to the point where I accept all ships. Well, except the incest ships, which kind of give me the willies.

So I’ll give a quick glimpse of my favorite ships.

Katara/Aang (which makes Kataang) is one of those ships that gradually grows on you over time until the cuteness gets to you and you finally give up and start waving the shipping flag for it. It’s slow-burn (aka, it takes them forever to get together), but the slow-burn effect works well, considering all that’s going on in-show. They’re a very cute couple, and they’re unique in a way because it’s one of those few ships where we get an older female character with a younger male character. Also, just look at these two!

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atla kataanggggatla cave kiss

I shipped Zuko/Katara as well, mainly because like Mic, I sometimes like shipping those characters who start out disliking one another and grow to understand each other. The fact that they’re opposites in a lot of ways, but also very similar in others, makes them an interesting match to me. And they have some great moments together.

atla zutara face touchatla zutara hugatla zukoandkatara

Suki/Sokka is one of those underrated ships that everyone seems to like no matter what, and I’ve really grown to appreciate them when re-watching the show. Suki is a character who’s very confident in her sense of self. She’s a warrior who is proud of her femininity and finds strength in it. She’s also the one that knocks some sense into Sokka and takes his ego down a notch, which leads to him respecting her and also starting to respect women in general more than he did before.

atla sokka gets pwned by sukiatla sokka freaking out

atla Sokka-and-suki

Like Aang and Katara, their relationship is a slow-burn one, and it takes time for them to find their way back to one another. But once they do, it’s a beautiful thing.

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atla george

ATLA handles their relationship in a wonderful way, especially in consideration of Sokka’s previous relationship, and makes it less of a competition and more Sokka learning how to get past what happened with Yue and finding love again with Suki. It’s very sweet and realistic, and in the end, very adorable.

It also leads to hilarious moments like this:

atla awkwarddd

What do you think guys? If you haven’t seen the show: has my post inspired you to check out Avatar: The Last Airbender? If you’re already a fan: what is your favorite aspect of ATLA? What are your ships? And who is your favorite character? Let us know in the comments!

Remember, you can follow Animated Meta on Tumblr and Twitter. I hope you all have a happy Saturday!

Cheers,

M&M

Works Cited

Influences on the Avatar series. (n.d.). Retrieved February 20, 2015, from Avatar Wikia: http://avatar.wikia.com/wiki/Influences_on_the_Avatar_series

(Note: the quotes used in #5 were all derived from the ATLA: Creating the Legend videos embedded in the post.)

Lust, Adoration and Love: Breaking Down Esmeralda’s Shipping Options

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I ship Esmeralda/Phoebus like nobody’s business. They are one of my OTPs. So nothing gets me madder than when I hear that Esmeralda should have picked Quasi. Okay, let’s be real, there are plenty of things that make me angrier–I do have a life–but for the sake of argument, NOTHING MAKES ME MADDER.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame features three dudes that are madly “in love” with Esmeralda. It’s time to break down each three of these guys, their feelings, and why Esmeralda was meant to with the Sun God. *eye roll*

Frollo

For obvious reasons, Frollo is a psychopath and no one should ever be with him. Ever, ever, ever!

hunchback frollo witchcraft

Frollo is manipulative, evil, and just crazy. He obsesses over Esmeralda, he professes to hate her and her people, and he’s interest in her is purely unhealthy. He fantasizes about her and takes his obsession to a whole new level by burning Paris to the ground. He’s just not a good, dude.

Examples:

  • Frollo tells Quasi that gypsies are evil
  • Frollo takes pleasure in trapping Esmeralda in the cathedral and then has his very creepy scene where he “imagines a rope around that beautiful neck,” though that’s actually a crappy euphemism
  • Umm… all of Hellfire
  • When he tells Esmeralda she can still “choose him” as she’s tied to a poll and about to BURN

hunchback me or the fire

Frollo is literally the definition of an entitled, misogynistic dude. Esmeralda rejected him so he tried to have her put to death. Her and everyone she cared about. Worse, he blamed her for everything he was doing. She tempted me, she’s evil, she shouldn’t have danced that way, she shouldn’t BREATHE that way.

I don’t think much time really needs to be given to outlining reasons why Frollo is actually the worst.

Quasi

Here we have a victim of Frollo’s abuse. Because of Frollo, Quasi has grown up isolated and lonely. He was manipulated his entire life into fearing the world and its inhabitants. Frollo made Quasi uncomfortable in his own skin, ashamed of how he looked. Like I said, Frollo is just the worst.

hunchback heaven-s-light-o

Esmeralda is the first decent person Quasi meets. She is kind to him, unafraid of his looks (though she first assumes he’s wearing a mask), and pretty. Let’s be honest, Esmeralda being pretty is a big part of why he likes her—at least at first. He falls into her tent while she’s changing and is stunned into silence when he sees her, despite the fact she’s scolding him. But then she stands up for him, the only person in a crowd to do so. Then it becomes her kindness that infatuates him because, again, she’s the first decent person he’s ever met.

hunchback esmeralda saves quasi

Quasi is craving love. He’s been denied it his whole life. Esmeralda could have been anyone for him, it just happened to be her. Evidence: after Quasi helps her escape and is confronted by Frollo, Quasi says, “She was kind to me, master.”

Quasi would love anyone that shows him an ounce of kindness.

But Quasi doesn’t know how to love since no one has ever loved him and taught him what it means. Instead, Quasi idolizes her. “Heaven’s Light,” as beautiful as it is, is about Esmeralda saving Quasi, making her an angel. Before we get to some of the lyrics, I just want to mention a quote by John Green: What a treacherous thing to believe that a person is more than a person. People are people, with good parts and bad parts, and no one has the power to save another. Okay, onto the lyrics:

But suddenly an angel has smiled at me
And kissed my cheek without a trace of fright

Esmeralda is actually called an angel in the narrative, that’s not just me giving her the status to prove a point. Quasi sees her as an angel that’s come to change his life.

So many times out here
I’ve watched a happy pair
Of lovers walking in the night
They had a kind of glow around them
It almost looked like heaven’s light

hunchback bells heaven's light

Quasi has been longing for love his whole life. He’s been watching Paris from his bell tower and been able to create his own stories for everyone. He even makes models of the familiar faces for his mini-town. The point is, Quasi is craving for it, desperate.

I knew I’d never know
That warm and loving glow
Though I might wish with all my might

Love is not meant for him. Frollo brainwashed him. But then he meets Esmeralda and she shows him kindness and with that first inkling, he is hooked. He latches onto her because she’s the first person to ever look past his exterior.

His gargoyle friends fill his mind with romance stories, despite Esmeralda treating him as a friend and confidant. She opens up to him, gives him her necklace and actually calls him “my friend,” at one point.

Both Quasi and Esmeralda need friends. Esmeralda dances on the streets to get by and her community is being persecuted. Quasi has seriously damaged self-esteem issues and is “cared” for by an abusive “parent.” They both need support systems. Their friendship is important to both of their welfare.

hunchback end

Their friendship is so important to Quasi moving forward. She and Phoebus are the first positive relationships in his life. They give him confidence, help rebuild his self-esteem. Of course he has a long road to go before he’s in a healthy place, but you can never love until you love yourself. Quasi was not able to love when he met Esmeralda, but her friendship was instrumental in getting him to a good place after years of mistreatment.

Phoebus

MY BABY! I mean *cough*

HUNCHBACK MY SHIP 1

Like Quasi, Phoebus is drawn to Esmeralda because of her looks. He sees her dancing and is all, “Oh, yeah, hellooooo.” But then he sees her getting harassed by Frollo’s guards and steps in, totally reeled in as she defends herself and then slips away. Phoebus likes his strong ladies that take no shit from authority. When he returns her coins, Esmeralda and Djali are both taken aback, and here my friends is the start of a beautiful ship.

hunchback seeing him

But let’s backtrack a little. Phoebus is different from Frollo and Quasi for a number of reasons. Phoebus is an accomplished soldier. He’s got a career. He’s relatively stable, not like Quasi that has no control over his life, or Frollo that, well… is not stable in any sense of the word. He has seen the world, or some of it, I’m assuming. He’s got opinions. He clearly doesn’t see anything to fear in the gypsies since he questions Frollo’s decision to remove him from the front lines to police Paris. He’s tolerant.

Now back to my ship. The next time he sees her, yes, he’s probably drawn to her looks since she’s dancing. But like Esmeralda, he wants to stop the harassment happening to Quasi. Because he’s a soldier, he feels bound to obey Frollo’s orders and doesn’t intervene. However, when Esmeralda does, fearless, his attraction is cemented.

hunchback kindnesshunchback fight end

Their first conversation happens in the cathedral and oh my gosh, it is full of my favorite things: wit, banter, initial dislike on one party’s side. I can’t help but grin like an idiot watching it.

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Where Phoebus liked Esmeralda’s courage at the festival, Esmeralda is thrown by his refusal to arrest her. They both see qualities in each other they hadn’t expected to.

hunchback my ship5

Switching gears a bit, Phoebus isn’t threatened by Quasi, while Quasi is of Phoebus. It’s definitely not because Phoebus doesn’t see him as a rival because of how he looks or anything shallow like that. Phoebus recognizes that Quasi is her friend and he’s glad for that. He’s not one of those guys that gets insecure if his girlfriend so much as looks at another man. He’s not even angry when Quasi treats him with the same contempt that Esmeralda did because he’s a soldier. He’s just happy Esmeralda has people in her life that care about her safety that much. *SWOON*

thats love bitch reaction

And then, of course, there is a scene that melts my heart: when Phoebus refuses to burn the home of an innocent family.

hunchback phoebus saves family

Frollo’s just batshit crazy at this point and Phoebus has already witnessed him torturing gypsies and throwing their caravans into the Siene while they’re locked inside. The montage pans to his face a few times, his disagreement evident on his face. His conditioning as a soldier is hard to break, but he finally does.

He’s not doing it to impress Esmeralda. He doesn’t even know she’s there. He’s ready to die for his insubordination and still has his sass even facing his own death. But then Esmeralda saves her bf, because duh.

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Phoebus continues to prove himself by trying to warn Esmeralda and the gypsies about Frollo’s plan and wants Quasi to come with him since he’s her friend and she needs him. Again, he’s not one of those possessive, domineering men. He respects Esmeralda and the people she chooses as friends.

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And that’s why this ship is the best ship.

Follow Animated Meta on Twitter and Tumblr! A special post brought you by Mel is coming on Saturday, so stay tuned!

Cheers,

M&M

Animated Love Songs (Part 2)

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Happy Valentine’s Day!! Whether you’re single or in a relationship or unsure where you stand with someone, today is a made up holiday where the greeting card business gets a well needed boost. Or it’s, like, a day to tell everyone you know how much you love them. Okay! Let’s continue with our Animated Love Songs meta.

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Love is an Open Door – Frozen (Mel)

Ooh, I’ve been excited to talk about this one.

I’ll admit it: I have a lot of gripes with Frozen. But I can’t deny that “Love is an Open Door” is handled brilliantly, mainly because it’s a song where you can go back and find subtle foreshadowing. There were a lot of complaints about Hans’ villainy coming out of left field, but if you reexamine, you can see the small seeds planted for his antagonistic role.

“Love is an Open Door” is mainly about Anna and Hans, who have always been shut out and ignored by their siblings, and how their love for one another is an open door that gives them new possibilities. But what they want out of their relationship is completely different.

So let’s take a look at motivations.

Anna: All my life has been a series of doors in my face,

And then suddenly I bump into you

Hans: Yeah! It’s like,

I’ve been searching my whole life to find my own place

frozen series of doors1frozen series of doors2

Anna has always felt like she was alone in life. “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” really cements her loneliness and her desire to have someone to talk to. When Hans waltzes into her life, she’s found someone who she feels confident enough to talk to. Hans doesn’t shut her out the way Elsa does: instead, he listens sympathetically, and understands her struggles perfectly.

frozen find my own place

For a way, it’s similar for Hans, but let’s hone in on his word choice. He specifically mentions that he wants to find his own place – and he glances at Arendelle when he says this. He isn’t referencing Anna – he’s referencing her kingdom. That’s really important, considering that we find out later that he wanted to marry her so he could rule Arendelle. To Anna, he is referencing her, and that’s where the double meaning comes in.

Anna (and the audience, on first viewing) assumes that Hans is on the same page as her. But Hans has a completely different agenda, which makes “Love is an Open Door” a very unique love song. Does it follow the love song formula? Yes. But this is the first love song where one half of the party is being duplicitous and outright manipulating the other party.

Anna: But with you

Hans: But with you, I’ve found my place

Anna: I see your face

Both: And it’s nothing like I’ve ever known before

Love is an open door

Notice the way that Hans’ lyrics are focused on Arendelle, while Anna’s lyrics are focused on Hans? I bet you didn’t pick up on that on your first watch. Neither did I, until I watched Frozen again and little alarm bells went off in my head.

Our mental synchronization can have but one explanation:

You – and I –were just meant to be

frozen mental synch

Here’s where some irony slips in, because they’re not really as synchronized as they think. Or rather, Anna thinks they’re on the same page, but Hans knows they’re not.

Say goodbye (say goodbye)

To the pain of the past

We don’t have to feel it anymore

frozen love is an open door

Anna and Hans have obviously both had some turbulent/lonely childhoods. I mean, your brothers pretending you don’t exist? It could be a lie, considering Hans has lied about a lot, but if it’s the truth, it explains a lot about Hans’ motivations. Hans has never had a place to call his own. With twelve older brothers, being brother thirteen means you’re virtually destined for nothingness, and the second that he met Anna, he saw an opportunity to marry into something that could be his. Why didn’t he hone in on Elsa, the future queen? Well, he might’ve thought she was more unapproachable, and there was the fact that he met Anna first, and more importantly, genuinely seemed to like her.

Frozen is oddly conflicting about Hans and Anna’s relationship. They show us instances that indicate that Hans really does have feelings for Anna (like the scene when she runs off and he’s staring after her with that silly smile on his face), but then they refute it at the end. The creators didn’t really make up their minds on whether Hans actually had some shred of feelings for Anna, or whether she was just an easy target. I like to think it was a mix of both. Therefore, I think there is a bit of truth in Hans’ song: he does like Anna, but the chilling part of Hans is that he likes power more. And when he’s given the opportunity to take Arendelle for himself, he’s willing to let Anna die to make it happen.

frozen punch hans

One last thing I want to talk about before we move on is the end of the song, and the repetition of a certain lyric:

Love is an open door, love is an open door

Life can be so much more

With you (with you) with you

Love is an open door

The title of the song is dropped a lot during the song. So what does “love is an open door” really mean? Well, it was multiple meanings. For Anna, her love for Hans is an open door in opposition to all of the doors that have been shut on her in the past. It’s a chance to be with someone and have someone who trusts her and will stick by her no matter what.

For Hans, he sees Anna’s love for him as an open door to find his own place on the throne of Arendelle. Whether he has genuine feelings for her or not, being with her gives him a shot at being king, and finally having something that is solely his.

So is this a love song?

frozen IT'S TRUE LOVE

In a way, yes. But it’s so much more than that. And that’s why it remains my favorite song from Frozen.

 

Looking Through Your Eyes (Quest for Camelot)—Mic

Ugh, this song is so sweet. It’s basically all about how beautiful and perfect the world is when you’re in love.

Look at the sky tell me what do you see

Just close your eyes and describe it to me

The heavens are sparkling with starlight tonight

That’s what I see through your eyes

Firstly, Garrett is blind. So part of him is actually asking Kayley to describe it to him. But, Garrett is also a cynic and a loner, so he would never say the ‘heavens are sparkling with starlight.’

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Love has changed him, opened him up and it wasn’t something he was looking for. Kayley wasn’t looking for love either, since she was on a hero’s quest to save Camelot (and hopefully become a knight).

It’s out of our hands, we can’t stop what we have begun

And love just took me by surprise, looking through your eyes

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To continue the same thread:

I see a world we’re meant to see together

And it is so much more than I remember

More than I remember

More than I have known 

Love has changed the way they see their surroundings and even what they want out of life. Nothing matters unless they’re together (And suddenly I know why life is worthwhile).

Visually, the sequence is also important. Garrett is trusting Kayley to be his eyes, but it’s not all on his side. He also brings her into his world and shows her how he uses his walking stick as a weapon.There’s newfound trust between them.

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Here in the night, I see the sun

Here in the dark, our two hearts are one 

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I’m reading Wuthering Heights right now (if you read my Oliver Twist & Company meta, you know I’m taking an Early Victorian Novels class) and Cathy and Heathcliff share a similar sentiment. They consider themselves one being and when Cathy dies, Heathcliff says something to the effect of, how can I live without my soul? That’s kind of the same sentiment here, though Kayley and Garrett are way healthier than Cathy and Heathcliff.

 

Bella Notte (Lady and the Tramp)—Mic

Bella Notte is Italian for “beautiful night.” This song basically backdrops the perfect first date and one of Disney’s most iconic scenes: the spaghetti kiss. It’s sung with a heavy Italian accent, at first, and plays up this very romantic vibe.

lady and the tramp kiss

Visually, the sequence is very simple. They have dinner together in an alley and don’t eat anything special: tomato sauce and meatballs is a straightforward dish. Anyone can make it. They don’t do anything particularly special. They walk around town, they go to the park, they’re just together. And it’s a beautiful night because they are together and they are in love.

lady and the tramp eye sex hehe

Side by side with your loved one,

You’ll find enchantment here.

The night will weave its magic spell,

When the one you love is near

lady and tramp pawprints

It’s not a beautiful night because it’s not raining or because it’s not too cold. It’s a beautiful night because Lady and Tramp are together.

Look at the skies, they have stars in their eyes

Skies don’t have eyes. It’s not about the sky.

lady and tramp stars in their eyes

It’s about Lady and Tramp and how totally mystified they are by other person (dog). It’s about how they feel about each other. It’s an allegory or something like that.

It’s not about the material things like a big fancy or dinner or a shiny car (doghouse). It’s about being with that other person (dog). That is what makes una bella notte.

Buongiorno! (Doggies did the deed.)

lady and the tramp day after

 

Kiss the Girl – The Little Mermaid (Mel)

“Kiss the Girl” is probably one of the most straightforward love songs Disney has: Sebastian wants Eric to go on and kiss the girl already.

little mermaid sebastian ear

“Kiss the Girl” is sung by Sebastian, and the first verse is basically Sebastian summing up Eric’s thoughts on Ariel:

There, you see her, sitting there across the way

She don’t got a lot to say, but there’s something about her

And you don’t know why, but you’re dying to try

You wanna kiss the girl

It’s pretty obvious at this point in the movie that Eric is interested in Ariel. Her fascination with the world around her and her lively nature draws him in. Even without her voice, Ariel’s body language and expressions convey her feelings and thoughts quite well. And while it’s clear Eric doesn’t know everything about her, he knows enough to like her – and possibly want to kiss her.

Yes, you want her;

Look at her, you know you do

Possible she wants you too;

There is one way to ask her

Here’s where Sebastian nudges Eric, trying to get him to notice Ariel’s obvious interest in him – or rather, the way she plays with her hair and tries to avoid his gaze until she realizes he’s looking at her the way she’s been looking at him.

little mermaid kiss the girl

Eric, of course, drives us crazy by being uncertain and not ready to kiss Ariel, because he’s still hung up on the chick that saved him. Of course, if he knew that was Ariel, this would make things smoother, but then we wouldn’t have much of a plot, would we? So we have Sebastian to goad him into kissing Ariel, because of what he might lose out on if he doesn’t.

Ain’t it sad, ain’t it a shame?

Too bad; he gonna miss the girl

Boy you better do it soon; no time will be better

She don’t say a word, and she won’t say a word

Until you kiss the girl

Eric doesn’t realize it, but the nag for Ariel to get her kiss is so that she can stay on land permanently, thus why there’s such a rush for Eric to kiss her in the lyrics. Of course, Eric doesn’t pick up on this.

little mermaid kiss the girl paddling

The nagging aspect of the song actually kind of bothered me, because while I understood the purpose of the time limit in story, the pressure put on Eric to “kiss the girl” was a bit annoying.

While Eric and Ariel don’t get that kiss by the end of the song, thanks to Ursula’s interference, they do at the end of the movie. Sometimes it takes a bit of time for someone to get up the nerve to kiss the girl, as evidenced by Eric’s long wait, and that’s perfectly alright. It’s also okay for a woman to take the lead, but I digress. Eventually, he got to kiss the girl, and it was worth the wait that both of them endured.

 

Something There (Beauty and the Beast)—Mic

Something There is a really sweet song about discovering those first inklings of a crush. It’s the first time Belle and Beast really start to see each other for who they are and begin to like that person.

The music actually begins sometime before the first lyric is sung and it’s when Belle and Beast are finally eating together. They both make concessions and compromise. Beast eats with his mouth, but attempts to use a spoon. He’s really bad at it after so many years, but Belle sees his effort and proposes a new way.

beauty something there dishes

When they go outside to feed the birds and she sings:

There’s something sweet and almost kind

But he was mean and he was coarse and unrefined

And now he’s dear and so unsure

beauty something there birds

She’s not just referring to him trying to feed the birds. She’s talking about what happened at dinner and what happened when he risked his life to save hers. It’s a combination of everything that has happened between them, building up to this awakening.

I wonder why I didn’t see it there before

Belle, dude, that’s because it was NOT there before. The beast had to learn. He was cursed because he was a vain brat. It’s not like he was kind before he was punished. So Beast has never actually known how to be “sweet” and “kind” or “dear.” His schemas are totally being rewritten by Belle.

And when we touched she didn’t shudder at my paw

No it can’t be, I’ll just ignore

But then she’s never looked at me that way before 

The beast was a jerk as a kid, but he also had it rough as a beast. He was feared, loathed. He also may not have been very friendly—we saw how he treated Maurice. We don’t how much was the beast assuming or how much was what he had learned. It certainly seems like he had negative experiences with people since he says to Belle’s father, “You’ve come to stare at the beast!” So when Belle comes, he’s not open to considering she may be different. He also doesn’t know how to break the curse. He has no real concept of love.

Belle touching his paw is important to him. It represents her not fearing his exterior, but let’s be real. She never did. Besides their first meeting, which, can you blame her? No one expects to see a walking, talking (yelling), horned animal thing. He had locked her father in a cell. He didn’t make a good first impression. The only time Belle feared him was when he yelled at her in the west wing. And he didn’t just yell. He popped out of the darkness and prowled around and then started breaking and throwing stuff.

Whatever the beast’s path is, it all plays into this now. He can’t even think that she may like him or feel the same way he does. Love is conditional for him. Love has to be beautiful. And he is not.

New and a bit alarming

Who’d have ever thought that this could be?

True that he’s no Prince Charming

But there’s something in him that I simply didn’t see

beauty something there reading

Belle kinda feels the same way he does. Well, they both feel exactly the same. They’re crushing and terrified. While Belle admits he’s not the typical romantic hero, Beast has no mention of Belle being the opposite of a princess. It contrasts with the way the town sees her as this outsider. She’s “peculiar” to them, but not to the Beast. Finally someone sees Belle the way she’s meant to be seen and he’s totally smitten by her.

The song then cuts to the observers:

And who’d have guessed they’d come together on their own?

It’s so peculiar.

Ah, there is that word again. Peculiar. Everything is peculiar if you don’t understand it.

Belle is peculiar because she does not fit into her society and the town shuns her for it. But one can never truly know someone, at least not by judging them and making assumptions. The town does that.

And if people are hard to understand, then love is even harder. Mrs. Potts and Lumiere and Cogsworth certainly can’t understand it. But they don’t have to. Only Belle and Beast do and it’s not peculiar to them. They never use that word.

 

Beauty and the Beast–Beauty and the Beast (Mel)

“Beauty and the Beast” (the song) touches on one of the oldest fictional clichés ever: the couple that starts out as adversaries, and then becomes something more. Mrs. Potts even spells out the trope for us at the start of the song:

Tale as old as time; true as it can be

Barely even friends, then somebody bends unexpectedly

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It sums up Belle and the Beast pretty well, doesn’t it? They started out as two people who could barely stand one another, and then somebody (in this case, the Beast) bends unexpectedly and surprises Belle.

Just a little change

Small, to say the least

Both a little scared

Neither one prepared

Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast has gotten flack by critics for the Beast’s attitude, and that Belle ending up with him could be a result of Stockholm Syndrome (since she starts out as his prisoner). But what a lot of its contenders forget is that Belle doesn’t even like the Beast as a person. In fact, she detests him and calls him out on his bad attitude. And when she does that, guess what? He realizes she was right, and then promptly changes his ways and treats her with respect and dignity, something she never got from her last suitor, Gaston.

The change aspect is something that was originally touched on in “Something There” and then reappears again. It’s the Beast’s change in attitude that makes Belle reevaluate him as a person, and later as a romantic prospect. I also like the “both a little scared, neither one prepared” sentiment, because both the Beast and Belle aren’t quite sure of what to make of their feelings for one another, and like most people in love, they’re uncertain of whether they should make the first move, or how to even handle their feelings.

Ever just the same; ever a surprise

Ever as before, and ever just as sure

As the sun will rise

This was a weird verse for me at first until I broke it down and realized that it was Mrs. Potts touching on the cliché again. We’ve seen this story a lot of times (“ever just the same”; “ever as before”) but we’re still surprised that these couples make it at times (“ever a surprise”). Still, it doesn’t come as much of a surprise when we realize that the couple is set up in such a way that it’s so obvious that they should be together.

It also relates to how the characters view the relationship. That last line – “ever just as sure as the sun will rise” – relates to the inevitability of Belle and the Beast’s relationship to the Beast’s staff. However, to Belle and the Beast, it’s a surprise to them, because they never expected to feel this way about one another.

Tale as old as time,

Tune as old as song,

Bittersweet and strange,

Finding you can change,

Learning you were wrong

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Those last three lines right there sum up the relationship flawlessly. “Finding you can change” clearly relates to the Beast, who hadn’t realized his capacity for change until he finally attempted it. “Learning you were wrong” relates to both sides of the couple; they carried a lot of assumptions about one another, and it was only by coming together and learning about each other that they grew past the assumptions and saw the person beneath them. Their relationship at this point has been bittersweet and strange, but now they’re at a point where they finally understand one another. They’re on the same page, and they’re even on the same pace, as evidenced by their flawless dancing.

Last week, I mentioned how important it was that Anya let Dimitri lead during the Waltz Reprise, and how their dancing in sync related to them as a couple. Here, a similar occurrence happens with Belle and the Beast. Dancing takes a lot of trust. Much like how stubborn Anya lets Dimitri take the reins, the stubborn Beast lets Belle take control during their dance.  This represents the way their relationship has balanced out. Both sides trust one another, and both aren’t afraid to let the other take control. How’s that for an epic romance?

 

Can You Feel The Love Tonight (The Lion King)—Mic

Can You Feel The Love Tonight might make history for having the most number of narrators in a single love song: four! We start with Timon, who is so mad Simba and Nala have found each other. To him, this union will destroy his boys club.

But then we switch to Nala and she is happy. She’s probably happy for the first time in a long time considering she’s been under Scar’s dictatorship and thought her best friend died. Her line about the world being in perfect harmony is so great since she is finally at peace after experiencing the instability in the Pride Lands.

Another narrator change occurs and we get Simba’s perspective. He’s happy to see her too, but also scared she won’t understand what happened. He, himself, doesn’t understand what happened, which is why he’s been hiding with Timon and Pumba. Nala knows right away something is up with him—

He’s holding back, he’s hiding

But what, I can’t decide

She doesn’t know exactly, but she knows something is off. “I can’t decide” implies she has some theories since he is her best friend. They really are in perfect harmony.

Once again, we swap narrators and this time it’s this overarching third person POV. Simba and Nala were physically apart during the start of the song, on different sides of the water.

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Then they’re playing together and running around. They are together, falling into their old rhythm.

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This POV is like a narration.

Can you feel the love tonight?

You needn’t look too far

Stealing through the night’s uncertainties

Love is where they are

Timon saw clearly (I can see what’s happening), but Nala and Simba were both kinda stumbling around (and they don’t have a clue), their past stopping them from moving forward. But once they do admit their feelings (Nala licking Simba), the third person narrator lets us know that, yeah, they’re in love, and nothing, not even their pasts or the troubles ahead, can stop them.

lion king nala licks simba

Then we have one last change, back to the beginning, bookending with Timon and Pumba. It’s kind of symbolic, since Simba fled and became complacent with Timon and Pumba and then had to find the courage to leave and go back. They mark the shift in Simba’s story. Timon and Pumba open and close this song and by the end, Timon has convinced his friend that Simba having a lady friend will tear them apart.

And if he falls in love tonight

It can be assumed

His carefree days with us are history

In short, our pal is doomed

lion king our pall is doomed

lion king our pall is doomed

Nala coming back does represent a change for Simba. But it doesn’t really have anything to do with love. Simba chooses to go back because Nala reminded him of who he’d left behind and also told him what had happened in his absence. His carefree days are over because he goes back to be king, not because Nala has come to crash the party. And their pal is not doomed, since Timon and Pumba go with him and end up living in the Pride Lands. Everyone ends up in perfect harmony.

 

Let Me Be Your Wings (Thumbelina)—Mic

Let me tell you how much I loved this song when I was a kid: too much. I think it was because I had a giant crush on Cornelius, but whatever.

Let me be your wings

Let me be your only love

Let me take you far beyond the stars

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Thumbelina is a story about fairies, so of course wings feature very heavily. Thumbelina is the size of a fairy, but she is not one. She has no wings. And she falls in love with the fairy prince.

Everyday I’ll take you higher

and I’ll never let you fall

Wings are safety, security. They are a means of travel and protection and all that stuff. Cornelius, le fairy prince, wants to be that for her. He is also literally talking about being her wings since he carries her everywhere during this sequence, or takes her for a joyride on his bumblebee.

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But his words are deeper than that.

Leave behind the world you know

for another world of wondrous things

We’ll see the universe and dance on Saturns’s rings

Fly with me and I will be your wings

Leave behind being on your own, be with me. Come into the world of love, cheesy as that sounds. But all these love songs are about how love changes you or how love binds two people into one, or love is scary and thrilling. Cornelius is asking Thumbelina and promising to be everything for her. He will protect her and he will build her up and they will go on adventures together.

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Heaven isn’t too far.

Heaven is where you are,

Stay with me and let me be your wings 

Like Through Your Eyes, Bella Notte, Love, Can You Feel The Love Tonight, and many others, happiness and completeness only comes with the other person. Love is overpowering and encompassing and the music of animation takes that all and wraps into pretty music that we know every lyric to.

 

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

What is your favorite love song? Who is your OTP? What is your favorite romantic moment in Disney/non-Disney movies? SWOON BELOW!

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Cheers,

M&M

Animated Love Songs (Part 1)

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This week is Valentine’s Day, so we wanted to do something fun to change things up. This week is the week of Animated Love Songs, both Disney and non-Disney. Mic and I have decided to co-write, so we’ve marked each song to show who’s waxing poetic about it. I hope you guys enjoy this!

A Whole New World – Aladdin (Mel)

Aladdin is one of my absolute favorite Disney movies ever and I fangirl shamelessly about Aladdin and Jasmine’s relationship. They’re the definition of a badass power couple. Thus, I’m super excited to talk about “A Whole New World” – aka, their epic song.

We start with Aladdin’s awesome promise to show Jasmine the world:

I can show you the world: shining, shimmering, splendid

Tell me, princess, now when did you last let your heart decide?

He’s appealing to Jasmine’s sense of adventure and he brings up a great point. Jasmine’s never really had a chance to follow her heart because of her duties, and now, she’s getting a chance to listen to her heart and go for what she wants with Aladdin.

“A Whole New World” is interesting because Jasmine is in on the secret with the audience now: she knows that Aladdin = Prince Ali, and so there’s also a sense of glee that she’s found this boy she deeply cared for and worried about earlier in the story. Also, she doesn’t really fall for “Ali” until she realizes he’s Aladdin. Aladdin’s attempts to be something he’s not don’t really get him anywhere. It’s this song, where he opens up and shows his true self, where he wins her over. Because who would not want Aladdin?

aladdin flower

A whole new world

A new fantastic point of view

No one to tell us no, or where to go

Or say we’re only dreaming

Both Aladdin and Jasmine are tired of always being told what to do. Aladdin’s been kicked around for being a street rat and no one’s really appreciated who is he. He was born a street rat and he’ll die a street rat, but he’s defying that expectation. Meanwhile, Jasmine’s been harassed about getting married, and having to stay behind the palace walls, but she’s sick of that. This moment is a little taste of rebellion against everyone who’s ever told them they can’t be who they want to be, or go where they want to go.

Unbelievable sights, indescribable feelings

Soaring, tumbling, freewheeling

Through an endless diamond sky

This is probably one of my favorite bits of the song. Jasmine’s delight and awe at getting to see all of Agrabah, finally, is wonderful. All she ever really wanted was to get out of the palace and find someone she loved, and she’s accomplished both in one fell swoop.

I’m like a shooting star, I’ve come so far

I can’t go back to where I used to be

After all that she’s seen, and all she’s experienced with Aladdin, she can’t go back to the sheltered girl she was before. And honestly, she doesn’t want to.

Every turn a surprise,

Every moment red letter;

I’ll chase them anywhere,

There’s time to spare;

Let me share this whole new world with you

(Small note: I actually had a great debate about whether the second line was “red letter”/”gets better” with Mic earlier; it was fun.)

Anyway, basically, these two crazy kids are enjoying their whole new world, filled with adventure and excitement. They want to enjoy the moment (“there’s time to spare”) and share the new world they’ve discovered.

A whole new world (A whole new world)

That’s where we’ll be (that’s where we’ll be)

A thrilling chase, a wondrous place

For you and me

Jasmine’s found the adventure she wants, Aladdin’s found the respect he wants, and they’re both pretty happy with this whole new world they’ve uncovered. We even get some hand-holding and fireworks – that’s basically official couple status right there. 😉

 

Far Longer Than Forever – The Swan Princess (Mic)

The love song in The Swan Princess is interesting since it happens when the lovers are apart. This song is a way to connect them, to bridge the gap.

I close my eyes and I am where you are

And with your love I’ll never be alone

It’s also a very flowery song, comparing their love to the sun and how meant to be they are. Funny, considering they’ve been paired together their whole lives with the expectation they’ll marry, and Odette and Derek have rebelled against that notion their entire lives.

swan princess gross odetteswan princess derek kissing hand

“This is My Idea” is a montage of their adolescence full of scowling and pranking and “ughhh, dad, I don’t want to go see Derekkkk,” and then this is NOT my idea turns into this is my idea.

As sure as the dawn brings the sunrise

We’ve an unshakable bond

Destined to last for a lifetime and beyond

Look, I adore this song. I do, truly. It’s just that Odette rejects Derek when he wants to marry her because of her beauty and that’s not enough for her. Odette knows that’s not what love is. She leaves him, so they haven’t seen each other since, nor did they part on good terms.

swan princess is beauty all that matters to you

The rational part of me could buy a love song a little more understated that did not declare their love “as constant as a star,” since after all this had happened with zero follow up.

However, they have known each other since childhood, which is longer than most animated couples. Maybe a part of Odette knew Derek didn’t just love her pretty face—he was just too dumb to put words together—and she jumped on his idiocy to turn him down because she was afraid. Her change of heart is never addressed once he saves her. And neither is the deepening of Derek’s feelings.

But that’s the rational side of me. The fangirl part that adores this movie and thinks Odette is the prettiest thing and Derek is cute and “You should write a book: How to Offend Women in Five Syllables or Less,” is one of the best lines ever, loves this this song. The flowery language, the longing, the not feeling alone BECAUSE LOVE. I can’t get enough of it.

I also love how Odette wants to save herself.

 If I could break this spell

I’d run to him today

And somehow I know he’s on his way to me

Odette tried to escape. She had a big song about it with her puffin, turtle, and frog friends. It just didn’t work. And later, she is the one that finds Derek and leads him to her (since boy is clueless, okay?), but she can’t break the spell. But she takes solace in knowing her partner is trying to save her. Tis one less thing to worry about.

So, yes, is Far Longer Than Forever a tad over the top? Is it cheesy? Is it everything movies tell us about love? Yes, yes, and yes. Do I care? No, no, no.

 

I See the Light – Tangled (Mel)

tangled the lights

“I See the Light” has a gorgeous montage involving the lights. It’s a great song, because it’s not only a love song, but it’s also about realizing your dreams – and discovering new ones. One of the best parts of Tangled to me is its message  about dreams. When you achieve your dreams, you discover new ones. And sometimes, what you’ve dreamed of isn’t always what you expected it to be. Your dreams change and grow along with you, which we see very clearly in Rapunzel and Eugene’s lyrics. Let’s start with Rapunzel:

All these days, watching from the windows

All these years, outside looking in

All that time, never even knowing

Just how blind I’ve been

Rapunzel’s first verse actually has a dual-sided meaning. The obvious one is that Rapunzel is sheltered and she’s never really known much about the world outside her walls. Much like Quasimodo, Rapunzel’s grown up naïve and scared of venturing outside her comfort zone. But once she does, she realizes how blind she’s been – and how much the world has to offer her. The second, less obvious meaning, relates to her feelings for Eugene. She’s been blind to how she feels about him, until now anyway.

Now I’m here, blinking in the starlight

Now I’m here, suddenly I see

Standing here, it’s oh so clear

I’m where I’m meant to be

Here’s our triumphant “I got what I wanted” moment. Rapunzel wanted to see the lights, and now she understands that this is where she’s meant to be. She was meant to see them, and she feels accomplished. Again, since this is a love song, we can also tie that back to Eugene: she was meant to be here – with him.

tangled rapunzel lights

I’m going to come back to Rapunzel’s want/dream soon, but first I’m going to change stride and focus on Eugene’s verses. We’ll come back to the pretty chorus later.

All those days, chasing down a daydream

All those years, living in a blur

All that time, never truly seeing

Things the way they were

Remember what I said earlier, about how what you dream of isn’t really what you expect it to be? That applies perfectly to Eugene. He’s realizing now that his dream isn’t really all that it was cracked up to be. Just like he’s opened up Rapunzel’s perspective and shown her the truth about the world outside the walls of her tower, she’s opened him up to a world he never really imagined – and the love he never thought he wanted. In the interlude before his verse begins, Rapunzel offers him the bag with the crown in it, and while the Eugene at the start of the story would’ve snatched that right up, he doesn’t even bother looking inside. He doesn’t care about that anymore, because he’s realized there’s more to life than the life he had before, all thanks to Rapunzel.

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tangled light 2

Now she’s here, shining in the starlight

Now she’s here, and suddenly I know

If she’s here, it’s crystal clear

I’m where I’m meant to go

While his old dream isn’t really working out for him, he’s found a new dream in Rapunzel. She’s his guiding light, and he knows that she has led him to the path he needs to be on. Unlike Rapunzel’s “I’m where I’m meant to be,” which signifies the completion of her dream, Eugene’s “I’m where I’m meant to go” signifies the start of a brand new dream.

tangled rapunzel eugene lights

Now, let’s go back to that chorus:

And at last I see the light, and it’s like a fog has lifted

And at last I see the light, and it’s like the sky is new

And it’s warm and real and right,

And the world has somehow shifted

All at once, everything looks different

Now that I see you

tangled now that i see you

This is important: the chorus pops up twice.

The first time, it’s sung by solely Rapunzel, after her verses end. The “now that I see you” occurs just as she turns and sees Eugene. Now, why is that important? Well, Rapunzel’s completed her dream to see the lights. And now, she’s realizing she has a new dream: Eugene. Now that she sees him, it’s clear that she wants him, and that she’s realized the depth of her feelings for him.

The second time, it’s a true duet. The inner monologues end, and Rapunzel and Eugene come together to sing their feelings out like a true Disney couple. It shows that they’re not afraid to express how they feel about one another, and also that they’re on the same page about their feelings.

The chorus is all about what it’s like to gain perspective. “A fog has lifted.” “The sky is new.” These are lines that relate to that moment when everything becomes clear, and suddenly you realize what’s most important to you. For our protagonists, that’s them realizing their feelings for one another, and how important they are to each other. Now, everything is different. They’ve shed their past dreams and started a brand new dream, together.

 

So This Is Love – Cinderella (Mel)

cinderella and prince

I am such a sap about Cinderella, so prepare for lots of gushing about this song.

So This Is Love is Cinderella and Prince Charming’s love song, and it’s pretty adorable. It’s an interesting case where there’s a duet, but neither part is actually singing out loud. Instead, it’s internal monologue about how they feel about finding love.

So this is love -humming-

So this is love

So this is what makes life divine

It’s important to focus on the visuals here. We get to see a close up of Cinderella and the Prince’s radiant grins, and the way they stare at each other in awe as they dance. It’s easy to see how enthralled Cinderella is with the Prince, and vice versa. For Cinderella, who’s grown up without much love after her father’s death, finding love with someone like the Prince certainly “makes life divine.”

cinderella and her princey dancing

I’m all aglow -humming-

And now I know (and now I know)

The key to all heaven is mine

“The key to all heaven is mine” relates to their feelings for one another: meeting one another has unlocked all kinds of happiness that neither of them even knew existed. There’s a Katy Perry somewhere that says “they say you know when you know,” and Cinderella and Prince Charming certainly seem to know that this is love, and this is the love they need to find eternal happiness with one another.

My heart has wings -humming again-

And I can fly

I’ll touch every star in the sky

This part is really beautiful to me, because the wings and flying metaphor ties in so well for Cinderella, who’s always been grounded by the cruelty her stepfamily shows toward her. She always had the faith that she would get out of her situation and the determination to never give up on her dreams, but now she’s found someone who makes her heart soar, and gives her more hope than she had before. With the Prince, she sees a new route opening, and he could be exactly what she needs to get out of her grim living situation.

So this is the miracle that I’ve been dreaming of

So this is love

cinderella otp

We know that Cinderella’s been dreaming of miracles, but this also brings up the interesting point that the Prince has been looking for a wife, so he’s probably been dreaming that he’ll find someone that he loves deeply and wants to spend the rest of his life with. And while Cinderella’s found an escape in love, he’s found a future in his love for her as well. Ah, young love.

 

Once Upon a Dream – Sleeping Beauty (Mic)

sleeping beauty dance

This is a song that has about five lyrics repeated over and over again. It’s a very dreamy (get it?) perception of love and has touches of pre-destination in it. Like, they “met” in a dream, okay? There’s no depth to this song or this interpretation of love.

Mel would like to  add that the pre-destination feeling could be because they’ve met before, and can be why they’re so familiar to each other. Their original meeting feels like it happened once upon a dream.

I think, more so, this song speaks to us about Aurora and how alone she feels. Her only friends are some woodland creatures and she’s been raised by three fairies in the middle of nowhere.

sleeping beauty playing prince

We don’t really know what her relationship with them is like, but it doesn’t seem like the fairies are very adept at parenting since they still can’t do anything without magic after sixteen years.

sleeping beautiy cake candles life copy

So Aurora wants love and that makes sense.

Yet I know it’s true that visions are seldom all they seem

But if I know you, I know what you’ll do

You’ll love me at once, the way you did once upon a dream

I think this first line definitely shows us that she’s been let down in love (the fairies?) before. Or she’s heard stories. But this also goes back the fairy tale aspect of most Disney films. True Love, Happily Ever After, etc. Lots of people don’t believe in those, or think it’s cheesy. People get hurt, a lot of times it doesn’t work out. But this song is basically telling you not to be a cynic. Sure, things don’t work out, dreams don’t always come true, but this time…

Or it’s a song about a guy and a girl meeting in woods and admiring the gleam in each other’s eyes. I don’t know.

 

Learn to Do It (Waltz Reprise) – Anastasia (Mel)

anastasia dance

Anastasia’s love song is interesting, because not only is it a reprise, but it’s not sung from the perspective of either of the couple. In fact, it’s from the matchmaker’s perspective, as he realizes that he’s inadvertedly pushed Dimitri and Anastasia together in the midst of their scheme.

anastasia dimitri vlad

It’s one, two, three,

And suddenly, I see it at a glance

She’s radiant, and confident,

And born to take this chance

Here, Vladimir admires his handiwork; watching Anastasia dance proves to him that he made the right choice, choosing her for his con. By bringing out her confidence and teaching her about Anastasia’s life, he and Dimitri have gotten her ready for this. She’s “born to take this chance” – which fits in more ways than one, considering Anya actually is the lost Anastasia.

anastasia

The “it” Vladimir refers to could also refer to the romance between Dimitri and Anya, which he gets into here:

I taught her well, I planned it all,

I just forgot… romance

Vladimir may have planned out everything, but he forgot to plan for the unexpected. He didn’t realize that despite Dimitri and Anya’s initial distaste for each other, they might end up falling in love. And here’s where he’s bittersweet about the whole thing.

anastasia shock copy

Obviously, he wants Dimitri to be happy, considering how close they are, but the emotional attachment might cause issues for them, and he doesn’t want his best friend to get hurt. At this point, he’s also grown fond of Anya, so he’s worried about them both. He scolds himself, saying:

Vlad, how could you do this?

How will we get through this?

I should have never let them dance

But unfortunately for Vladimir, it’s a little too late to sulk about it, so he’s just going to have to deal with the fact that Dimitri and Anya are falling for one another. (And lucky for him, and them, it ends up working out in the end.)

anastasia kiss

One interesting thing I noticed when I watched this scene was the way that Dimitri and Anya move in perfect harmony when they waltz. It shows their connection, and how normally stubborn Anya lets Dimitri take the lead, trusting him not to screw things up. I thought that was a nice touch to foreshadow this romance, and how opening up to one another and trusting each other is ultimately what strengthens a relationship. You can’t have a relationship without trust, after all.

 

Love – Robin Hood (Mic)

Love is a super short song in Robin Hood. The singer has this very dreamy quality to her voice that emphasizes this idea that love changes you, everything happens in a bubble:

Once we watched a lazy world go by

Now the days seem to fly

robin hood hug

While this song talks about love surpassing death and going on forever and being more precious than life, it also personifies love. That really threw me off.

Love

It seems like only yesterday

You were just a child at play

Now you’re all grown up inside of me

robin hood ring so cute

At first I was like, “Umm… okay weird.” But the more I thought about it, the more sense it made. Yes, we all have the capacity to love as children. Love has always been… inside us… but it’s not until we grow up that we learn how to really love another person romantically. We start out loving our family and ourselves–and most of the time we have to learn how to love ourselves, too. Sadly, it’s not innate. As we make friends, we learn how to love them and be good friends in return. In the same fashion, we also stumble around in the dark when it comes to romantic love.

robin hood love

Love matures as we mature. I think that’s a great message to send.

 

If I Never Knew You – Pocahontas (Mel)

If I Never Knew You is interesting because it was originally a deleted scene that they cut from the theatrical release due to it making the film drag a bit. Fun fact: they did add it back in on the 10th year anniversary when it was rereleased on DVD. It’s also that song in the credits of Pocahontas, so you’ve likely heard it before if you’ve see the movie all the way through.

lion gross sobbing reaction

Anyway, this scene is really sweet, and builds off the dialogue Pocahontas and John Smith share, when she visits him the night before her father is going to execute him. She tells him that she thinks it would be better if they’d never met, and he tells her: “I would rather die tomorrow than live a hundred years without knowing you.”

One of the most important things about this song is the fact that it makes a really excellent point. Who would John Smith be if he’d never met Pocahontas?

pocahontas you think the only people who are people

There are two really great sets of lines where he muses about this:

If I never knew you, if I never felt this love

I would have no inkling of how precious life can be

(AND)

If I never knew you, I’d be safe but half as real

Without Pocahontas, John Smith wouldn’t be the man that he is now. At this point, he’s come a long way from the man who thinks of the New World as “a land I can claim, a land I can tame.”

pocahontas with stick

Pocahontas’ influence has shown him a whole new perspective. Without her to push him and challenge his views, he may have never gained that perspective.

(That sound you hear is Mic sobbing uncontrollably.)

I really, really love that second line in there: “I’d be safe but half as real.” There’s a saying that you’ve probably heard: ignorance is bliss. If John Smith had never met Pocahontas, he would be safe, since he probably wouldn’t even be in this situation, about to be executed. His former beliefs would also be safe from scrutiny. But, again, he’d only be “half as real.” He gets a nice dose of reality from Pocahontas in “Colors of the Wind,” and that’s ultimately what forces him to take a look at himself and how he views the world. He values what he’s gained from knowing her, and even though he knows he would be safer not knowing her, he also wouldn’t be the man that he is now, so it wouldn’t really be worth it.

pocahontas if i never knew you 5pocahontas if i never knew you 6

In this world so full of fear,

Full of rage and lies,

I can see the truth so clear

In your eyes

I thought this was actually a really interesting stanza to include, considering that this song takes place right in between Savages Parts 1 and 2. “Savages” is all about the misconceptions both sides carry about one another, and the lies that they believe about one another. Both sides are filled with rage and fear toward each other. But Pocahontas and John Smith have moved past the misconceptions and seen the truth in one another.

I thought our love would be beautiful

Somehow we’d make the whole world bright

I never knew that fear and hate could be so strong

Here, Pocahontas is realizing that love can’t always conquer all; they never thought that their love could make things worse, and that fear and hatred could overcome everything they were working to prevent.

But still my heart is singing, we were right

But, despite the hardships, they know that they’re in the right. Because they are in love, and because they’re taken the time to understand each other’s side and learn about one another, they have a clearer view of one another and they know their truth. They just have to prove it to everyone else (which they end up doing).

There are also some really great callbacks to other songs earlier on in the movie. We get flashbacks of Colors of the Wind. That song references how they’re all connected to each other “in a circle, in a hoop that never ends,” and the two of them are intertwined throughout the song.

pocahontas if i never knew you 3

Compare that to here:

pocahontas and john smith 4

And in a callback to “Just Around the Riverbend,” Pocahontas sees herself and John Smith reflected in the water, and John Smith disappears, much like Kocoum did.

pocahontas should i marry kocoum

But this time, John Smith is the one letting go of her hand, while Pocahontas was the one who let Kocoum go. It’s symbolic of how they know that tomorrow, he will be gone, and his goodbye to her, in a way.

pocahontas farewell 1pocahontas farewell 2

Also, note the way that John Smith looks up from the darkness and turns his face to the light when he’s alone at the end of the song. Even though his situation is dark and grim, he has hope, all because he knew her.

reaction owl fangirl hearts happy

We’ll be back with more songs on Saturday! What are your favorite animated love songs? And who are your favorite animated couples? Let us know what you think in the comments.

You can follow Animated Meta on Tumblr and Twitter! I hope you guys have a lovely Tuesday!

Cheers!

M&M

Oliver Twist & Company

Standard

Now that I finished Oliver Twist for my Early Victorian Novels class, I can finally write this meta! Time to dive into the world of kitty!Oliver and Dickens!Oliver and see what got cut from the original story and how Disney…. Disney-fied it.

oliver and company title

Oliver Twist is a novel by Charles Dickens, written in the first half of the 1800s. It’s really important because this was a time the novel was still “developing.” Jane Austen followed by the romanticist movement of the previous era had just given the novel as a genre some legitimacy. Previously, people read biographies and epic poems (think Ancient Greece and Rome), and books on history. Fiction and novels were not what they are today. So when Austen and her fellow compatriots began to embrace fiction and write stories (not that they were the first), the novel actually started to take off.

Oliver Twist is a mixture of realism and melodrama all wrapped up in a pretty package. Without further ado, let’s begin.

Once Upon a Time in London New York City

Dickens set his story in London because that’s where he was and he was trying to tackle the problems of English society (workhouses, utilitarianism, New Poor Law, crime). Disney relocated kitty!Oliver to Manhattan because why not? We’re a “big old, bad old, tough old town, it’s true,” so all the clichés of living in New York must be enough to substitute for 1800s London.

I want to start by comparing the openings. Oliver and Company opens with a depressing montage and the song Once Upon a Time in New York City. Below is that montage—your heart will break.

If you know anything about Oliver Twist, you know he’s an orphan, as is kitty!Oliver. You probably assume he’s had a tough life (because why else would there be a book about him), as has kitty!Oliver with his never getting adopted and living on the streets and getting caught in the rain.

oliver sad omg

Dickens’ book opens with this massively long sentence: Among other public buildings in a certain town, which for many reasons it will be prudent to refrain from mentioning, and to which I will assign no fictitious name, there is one anciently common to most towns, great or small—to wit, a workhouse and in this workhouse was born, on a day and date which I need not trouble myself to repeat, inasmuch as it can be of no possible consequence to the reader, in this stage of the business at all events, the item of mortality whose name is prefixed to the head of this chapter.

What a doozy! Oh and the chapter title is: Treats of the place where Oliver Twist was born; and of the circumstances attending his birth.

If we compare these beginnings they both introduce us to our Olivers at the earliest stages of their lives. I found it interesting that Disney sets up the location right away as Manhattan and gives us a big long song about how hard it is to live here, while Dickens writes later more about the circumstances in England and the laws that hinder growth. For Dickens, these problems could exist anywhere. It just so happens right now they’re existing in England. Disney, on the other hand, says this is just Manhattan so get used to it.

Cause a dream’s no crime

Not once upon a time

Once upon a time in New York City

oliver adorable

Both Olivers have the same dream—they just want someone to love them. Which makes sense since that’s what all kids (and cats, let’s be honest) want. There is one more part of the song I want to cover, that’s not apparent unless if you’ve read the book.

So, Oliver, don’t be scared

Though yesterday no one cared

They’re getting your place prepared

One of the main plot threads in Dickens’ book is who Oliver’s father is, which, from watching the movie, you know was completely cut out (as was kitty!Oliver’s mother). Spoiler alert: though Oliver was born in a poor workhouse, his father was middle class and Oliver is actually entitled to some of the inheritance. We discussed in class how Oliver grows up among the poorest of poor, a ward of the state, and is surrounded by criminals and yet he speaks like he received a middle class education. Disney does that too with this line: find a way to stay alive, cool cat in a cruel world, knows good from bad. How does he know good from bad? No one ever taught him. kitty!Oliver is also naturally good. This is a flaw of melodrama.

Melodrama’s so much fun

In black and white for everyone to see

(Billy Joel’s song Zanzibar—Joel voices Dodger in the film)

Dickens embraces melodrama, creating his characters extremely good or extremely evil. As a result, Twist is totally pure of heart and innocent and also speaks like a gentleman at age eight. But, since Oliver’s father is middle class, Oliver’s diction could be a result of predestination of some sort. Oliver and Company certainly toes that line with “They’re getting your place prepared.” Oliver was always meant to have a family and be loved.

Fagin’s Gang

In both versions, (The Artful) Dodger is the first member of Fagin’s crew that Oliver meets. It happens much sooner for kitty!Oliver—whereas Dickens!Oliver was relocated from one workhouse to another, nearly sold into a dangerous chimney sweep apprenticeship, and then sent to work for a gravedigger. There, Dickens!Oliver meets Noah, someone I’m coming back to because ohmygosh did Disney have fun with that one. After an incident at the house, Dickens!Oliver runs away to London and meets Dodger on the road.

oliver dodgerExpectation

Disney really one kept one piece of Fagin’s crew in tact and it is this sentiment: “You’re in the gang now. The gang is family.”

oliver-co-disneyscreencaps.com-2053oliver-co-disneyscreencaps.com-2039

oliver-co-disneyscreencaps.com-2890oliver-co-disneyscreencaps.com-2898

oliver-co-disneyscreencaps.com-2729oliver and dodger sleep

Dickens does not shy away from portraying criminals in his novel, something Disney definitely did. They whitewashed Fagin’s crew instead of embracing the corruption. Disney’s crew of pickpockets steal junk that no one would want. Dickens’ are the real deal. The plot of the adaptation really diverges as a result.

Fagin is transformed into a terrified, shaking, fearful little man at the sight of Sykes. Sykes is Fagin’s buddy in the book, and now he’s a scary loan shark that wants his money repaid. Props to Disney for trying to flesh out some of Dickens’ black and white characters, but since we never learn what Fagin needed the money for (dog food?), the effort falls flat.

The Disney-fied version of Fagin’s crew in the film are just a bunch of cute dogs that crack jokes.

oliver francis good grief

However, both Olivers do not immediately grasp they are a crew of pickpockets. When they get taken out for their first job, it goes horribly wrong—more on that to come.

Fagin and his crew ultimately become heroes in the Disney story, so where Dickens got to give everyone their comeuppance in the book, only Sykes is punished (getting run over by a train).

oliver can't be dodger lolReality

Oliver Gets Rich!

Oliver gets taken out on the job and botches it. In the book, Oliver gets arrested, wrongly accused of stealing. He goes to jail, but the guy he “robbed” has a change of heart and wishes he be let go. Oliver goes home with Mr. Brownlow, a wealthy dude, where he would have lived happily every after if not for Fagin being terrified Oliver would squeal on them. As a result, Fagin has Oliver kidnapped and brought back to him. Later, they take him to rob a house since he’s small enough to fit through the window. Oliver gets shot trying to warn the family and is left to bleed out in a ditch before he comes to and goes back to the house he tried to rob for care. Miraculously, these people fall in love with him, too, and want to keep him forever.

Okay, so. What did Disney do with this? Disney decided to kinda mush all those nice rich people into one: Jenny. I have no idea what Fagin’s crew were trying to steal from Jenny and her butler since Tito was just messing with the car’s wires, but Jenny finds Oliver and dubs him the cutest kitty ever and takes her home with him.

oliver where's the kid

Fagin’s crew, of course, think Oliver is going to be tortured and they vow to rescue him. Here, Fagin’s crew think they’re doing something good, that they’re saving their friend. None of that is in play in Dickens’ story. Dickens’ crew were just trying to save their own skin by making sure Oliver didn’t squeal.

Back to Oliver, he has a grand old time with the rich folk in both versions.

oliver jenny playing pianooliver gets his collar

oliver jenny ice cream

Remember when I mentioned Noah? Lets go back to that. Georgette is Jenny’s pet dog and she has a very high opinion of herself. She also does not like sharing. She’s bitterly jealous Jenny has a new favorite. She is the only antagonist kitty!Oliver faces in his new life.

oliver georgette balcony

She is a very loose interpretation of Noah Claypool. Noah is this awful little shit that had been apprenticing for the same gravedigger Oliver was sent to. He’s also jealous of Oliver getting more attention and praise than he. Georgette helps Dodger and co. break Oliver out, thus returning him to Fagin so she can reclaim Jenny’s attention. Similarly, Noah starts the fight that prompts Oliver to run away to London, where he gets wrangled into Fagin’s crew. Georgette and Noah are both vessels that deliver Oliver to Fagin.

Noah really amused me when he later joined Fagin’s crew and I thought turning him into Georgette was hilarious.

oliver georgette butt wiggle

Small Homages

Disney greatly condensed the timeline and made heroes out of villains in this adaptation. But if you look hard enough, there are small homages to Dickens’ story that made me grin.

1. Nancy was turned into Rita. Don’t talk to me about Nancy because I have a lot of feels. Nancy is part of Fagin’s crew and she’s intensely loyal, but also kind to Oliver. Rita is asked by Sykes’ bodyguard dogs why she stays with the gang just like Nancy is begged by Dickens!Oliver’s middle class friends to leave and start over somewhere else. Rita is also kind to Oliver when he arrives and is the only one to express doubts over taking Oliver from Jenny’s house when she sees him all content and sleeping. Similarly, but much darker, Nancy hopes Oliver died the night he got shot so he would be free from having to come back to Fagin’s crew.

2. There is this pointless guy in the novel that says Oliver is going to be hanged. Over and over again.  The movie makes no mention of this, but we do see Tito and Fagin hanging on two separate occasions. It amused me.

oliver-co-disneyscreencaps.com-5323oliver-co-disneyscreencaps.com-6401

3. The portrait. When Dickens!Oliver first stays with Mr. Brownlow after he gets sprung from jail, he becomes enamored with a portrait, not knowing it is his mother. In the movie, Jenny has many portraits on her walls of dogs and Francis stops to admire them.

4. The opening montage plays itself similarly to Dickens!Oliver’s trip to London. He’s ignored on the roads and sometimes harassed by people, much like no one stops for kitty!Oliver. When a little boy wants to play with him and is pulled away, it is akin to Dickens!Oliver finally getting help from an old woman. Then there’s a line about how it was the first nice thing to ever happen to Oliver and cue Dickens’ melodrama.

oliver falling

5. Sykes in the Disney film has two scary dogs as his henchmen. Dickens!Sykes has a pet dog that he abuses constantly.

oliver sykes dogs

6. Perhaps Oliver Twist is most famous for asking for seconds. In the Disney film, Jenny gives Oliver more without even asking.

oliver gets more

Wrapping Up

Oliver and Company isn’t even an hour and a half. It’s a very short film that greatly condenses Dickens’ 168,000 word book. As a result of altering Fagin and Sykes’ characters, while excluding others like Monks, the story changed drastically. We no longer have the hunt for Oliver’s father and Monks trying to conceal Oliver’s true parentage, but a story more about Fagin trying to repay a debt to Sykes by kidnapping and then ransoming Oliver to do it.

Disney’s attempt to flesh out Fagin might have worked if they hadn’t made him have a change of heart so quickly. In the end, Disney’s interpretation of the characters are just as flat as Dickens’.

Have you read Oliver Twist? What do you think of Oliver & Company?

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Cheers,

M&M!