Category Archives: non-disney

Anastasia Isn’t Disney: Why Everyone Thinks It Is

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For some reason, Anastasia has this weird reputation of being mistaken for a Disney movie, but it’s not.

anastasia NOT DISNEY

Anastasia was actually done by Fox Animation Studios, and was distributed by 20th Century Fox. So why is Anastasia always mistaken for Disney? Well, there are quite a few reasons, actually!

First of all, Anastasia is a Princess movie. Thematically, it’s set up a lot like the Disney Princess movies: Anastasia wants something (belonging), Anastasia meets a cool guy on her quest to find that thing, and Anastasia accomplishes her goal (finding a place where she belongs/finding her home) and gets the guy as well.

anastasia and grandmother

anastasia kiss

She also has a villain to deal with – Rasputin, who’s a total jerk and ups the ante on creepiness the way that villains like Jafar and Doctor Facilier have in Disney’s past. (We’re going to go more into specifics about that later, when we talk music.)

Secondly: at a glance, the animation styles are similar. Given that its directors (Don Bluth and Gary Goldman) were former Disney animators, this isn’t too surprising. In particular, Anastasia and Ariel look very similar to me design-wise.

anastasia vs. ariel

However, they’re not exactly the same. In movies like The Little Mermaid, Disney tends to exaggerate features (like Ariel’s big eyes and big lips), while Anastasia tries to stay on the more realistic size and downsizes features. Anastasia (and the rest of the cast) have smaller eyes, smaller mouths, and in general look more like people you would see in real life. I mean:

Ariel

little mermaid 6

little mermaid seahorse

Anastasia

anastasia

anastasia waltz

You can see the difference in their expressions, personalities, how they hold themselves…so while some details are similar, at a second glance it’s easier to tell how they stand apart.

Anastasia shares a lot of other traits with Disney movies, such as….

Opening narration:

A lot of the older Disney movies (Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella) opened with a sort of prologue, where the narrator would tell a story and lead the viewer up to the present day. Anastasia did something very similar by having her grandmother narrate in the beginning. (Fun fact: the score playing during this scene is actually called Prologue, and since the actual opening I had posted seems to have disappeared, I’ll post the score for you guys to enjoy instead.)

(Another fun thing in the opening scene: Rasputin’s entrance is reminiscent of Maleficent: all the drama, all the magic, all the creepiness. Who did it better, guys?)

Opening scenery shots:

There’s a shot in Rumor in St. Petersburg that’s very reminiscent of Bells of Notre Dame from Hunchback of Notre Dame:

anastasia st. petersburg (Rumor in St. Petersburg)

hunchback bells of notre dame (Bells of Notre Dame)

Not exact, but pretty similar. And yet again, some animation similarities appear in how the buildings are rendered.

The father/daughter relationship:

Disney has a thing about father/daughter relationships: Ariel/Triton, Belle/Maurice, Jasmine/The Sultan… When a parent survives, it’s usually the father, and even if he doesn’t, he’s usually shown in the narrative before his death (ex: Cinderella, Frozen). And much like the Disney girls, Anastasia’s father/her relationship him with is emphasized early on. While the main family relationship we deal with is Anastasia and her grandmother, her father is shown pretty prominently.

We get them dancing at the beginning:

anastasia and dad 1 anastasia and dad 2

And we get a sad echo when Anya, still grasping at memories of the past, sees her father in he fantasy sequence during Once Upon a December:

anastasia and father

Yes, it’s not the main focus, but it’s a pretty important one. We don’t see that emphasis with Anastasia and her mom.

The animal sidekick:

Because apparently princesses can’t have real flesh and blood friends, Anya has an animal sidekick like most of the Disney princesses. Hers is the absolutely adorable Pooka.

anastasia pooka

And much like Jafar, Rasputin has a sidekick in his weird albino bat, Bartok.

anastasia bartok would kick her

The music:

This is a big one, guys. Some of the music in Anastasia very clearly follows tropes that Disney’s music movie scheme often focuses on. Three in particular stand out: the “I Want” song, the “Villain” song, and the “Love Song.” I’ll go through them in order and explain why.

Journey to the Past = “I Want Song”

Journey to the Past is Anya’s “I Want” song. What does Anya want? She wants to belong, and find the family that she knows has always been out there. And just like most Disney “I Want” songs, Journey to the Past spells out her intentions around the second half:

Somewhere down this road, I know someone’s waiting

Years of dreams just can’t be wrong

Arms will open wide, I’ll be safe and wanted

Finally home where I belong

This is shown through the family Anya sees on her journey to St. Petersburg. The longing in her face is painful to see, but you can also see her resolve strengthen. That’s what she wants, and she’s determined to keep going and find it, no matter how wary she feels stepping off-course.

And of course, just like other Disney characters do, Anya gets what she wants in the end: her family, a sense of belonging, and something she didn’t expect to find – love. It’s pretty cool how that works out for characters, isn’t it?

In the Dark of the Night = “Villain Song”

In the Dark of the Night is one of those songs that doesn’t quite fit into Disney standards, because even though Disney has some pretty dark villains, Rasputin surpasses them all. There’s a whole section of the movie where the narration talks about how he GAVE UP HIS SOUL so he could murder the Romanovs, and you can see his flesh stripped away as he’s left a skeleton. That’s pretty dark. Even Facilier didn’t go quite that far.

There are some similarities to Disney villains of the past though. Like Ursula and Yzma, Rasputin gives us his backstory via song in the second verse:

I was once the most mystical man in all Russia

When the royals betrayed me, they made a mistake

My curse made each of them pay

But one little girl got away

Little Anya, beware, Rasputin’s awake!

Like Facilier, Rasputin has some “friends on the other side” to help him out, which leads into the next scene, when they attack the train that Anya, Dimitri and Vladimir are on.

And like Scar, Rasputin is really freaking dramatic.

bitch i'm fabulous reaction lion king

I mean come on, look at this montage, this is ridiculously dramatic. Everything Rasputin does is ridiculously dramatic. As creepy as he is, it’s hard to take him seriously at times because of the sheer drama that surrounds him. (Plus, he failtastically dies TWICE, which is pretty bad.)

Learn to Do It (Waltz Reprise) = “Love Song”

I talked about this back when Mic and I wrote about Animated Love songs, so I won’t spend too much time dwelling on this, but I want to point out that this is another one of those Disney touches that slides into the movie. I mean, we have Vlad, who’s kind of our Timon stand-in, singing about these two crazy kids in love, and him realizing that 1) this was never something he’d planned for, thus, 2) it’s completely going to change their group dynamic.

Unlike Timon, who takes a while to warm up to Nala, we can see that Vlad’s already warmed up to Anya based on this one great line:

She’s radiant, and confident, and born to take this chance

We know that Dimitri is head over heels into his “mark” based on how he looks at her, but now we can see Vlad’s affection shining through. It’s not something we see often in movies, and it’s kind of nice to see Vladimir care for Anya in a platonic way – like a father in law, perhaps. 😉

We’re more in Disney territory toward the end:

I taught her well, I planned it all, I just forgot…romance!

Vlad, how could you do this?

How will we get through this?

I never should have let them dance

Poor Vlad; he’s got some woes here. And like Timon, he’s not entirely happy about this change in course.

Another important thing in this scene is the dance. We get this a lot in Disney movies, where characters share a dance, and it shows the emotional growth between the two characters. Here, we see stubborn Anya allowing Dimitri to lead her. The fact that she trusts him enough to lead shows that she’s starting to care for him, and open up to him. Similarly, we see Dimitri being less reserve around Anya now. It’s really sweet all around.

Conclusion

While Anastasia is not Disney, its creators were likely influenced by their time working at Disney. However, Anastasia stands on its own as a firmly non-Disney film. So next time someone in your life says Anastasia is Disney, just remember what Anastasia herself says:

anastasia NOT DISNEY

 

Do you think Anastasia is similar to Disney’s other films? Who had a better dramatic entry: Maleficent or Rasputin? What do you guys love most about Anastasia? Let us know in the comments!

Follow Animated Meta on Twitter and Tumblr. Have a smashing Saturday!

wild thornberries smashing ariel gif

Cheers,

M&M

 

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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!

atla flower crowns

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.

atla teoatla toph's bending sense

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

atla aang zuko fight 2

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.”

atla firebending

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:

atla blue and orange agni kaiatla fire dancing

atla threeway fightatla threeway fight continues

atla mai katara fightatla katara mai fight

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

atla suki tylee fightatla katara season 3

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.

atla ursaatla sibling fun

Grandmothers. Mothers. Daughters. Sisters. Wives.

atla spabendingatla spabending part 2

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

atla ty leeatla mai's knife twirlingatla azulaaaa

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!

atla cutiesatla babies

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.)

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

beauty dancing

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

beauty dancing2

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.

lion king apart drinking

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

lion king like old times

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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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.

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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

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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)

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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.

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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.”

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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

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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)

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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.

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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.

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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)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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Compare that to here:

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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.

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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.

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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

Quest for Camelot: I Couldn’t Just Talk About One Thing

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I went into my re-watch of Quest for Camelot expecting to write about its portrayal of people (and dragons) with disabilities. What I found was a deeper element of the film that tied that into this message of togetherness. It makes total sense, too, when you consider that the story of King Arthur is about one man uniting a bunch of warring clans and tribes to make Camelot, the greatest city in the world. And so, lets consider this three metas in one! It is the holy trinity of metas.

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Quest for Camelot is no Disney classic, but it is a pretty great film (not made by Disney). Kayley is the protagonist, a girl hellbent on being a knight. She idolized her father from a young age, dreaming of being a knight just like him. When he’s killed by a greedy knight, Ruber, Kayley is determined more than ever to follow in his footstep. The only problem is, women are not knights. Trapped at home, Kayley’s moment finally comes when Ruber steals Excalibur and comes to collect her mother, Julianna, and have her lead his army into Camelot by tricking King Arthur. When news that Ruber’s pet gryffin lost the sword reaches her, Kayley rides off to the Forbidden Forest to retrieve it before he can. There she meets Garrett, a blind badass hermit, and a two-headed, fireless and flightless dragon, Devon and Cornwall. Predictably, Kayley and Garrett fall in love and they all save the day together. And voila, that’s all you need to know if you haven’t seen the film.

Family in Quest for Camelot

  • Kayley: On My Father’s Wings

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The first facet of Camelot’s theme of togetherness is Kayley’s relationship to her father. Since she was a little girl, Kayley has adored her father and the knights. She wants to hear the same story of King Arthur over and over again and go to Camelot.

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“I’m coming with you, daddy!” Little Kayley says when her dad has to go to Camelot for a meeting of the Round Table. When you’re older, her father says—famous last words. And off he goes and I cry buckets when little Kayley sees all the knights bringing her dad’s body back and is so excited her dad’s home and has no idea—

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Anyway.

So brings us to the song On My Father’s Wings, one of my favorites. When your dad sucks, it’s nice to imagine he’s a brave knight. Taking a play from Disney fashion, this is Kayley’s I Want song. She wants to be a knight, she wants to be guided by her father, she wants to do great things.

If you were with me now
I’d find myself in you

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I want to live my life
The way you said I would
With courage as my light
Fighting for what’s right
Like you made me believe I could

Kayley wants to be her father’s daughter: “One day, I’ll be a knight, like father.” With his death, there’s no one really that encourages her to go for her dreams. Her mother, Julianna, is amazing, but doesn’t encourage her to become a knight.

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Julianna: That’s a job for the knights.
Kayley: But I want to be a knight.

However, once Ruber attacks their home, Julianna is the one that tells Kayley to go and warn Arthur. Kayley is hesitant to leave her mother in Ruber’s clutches, but goes. When she hears that Ruber has lost the sword, she decides to get if before he can instead of riding to Camelot. Kayley finally gets her big adventure, her chance to achieve glory.

Kayley: How am I going to do great things if I’m stuck here? With these silly chickens?

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Don’t worry, Kayley. Your time has come! When Garrett suggests they make camp for the night, Kayley rebuffs this.

Garrett: No one travels through the Forbidden Forest at tonight.
Kayley: My father Sir Lionel would have.

The imprint her father left on her is Kayley’s driving force. She still grieves for him and she still aspires to be like him.

I will fly on my father’s wings
To places I have never been
There is so much I’ve never seen
And I can feel his heartbeat still
And I will do great things
On my father’s wings

And in poetic fashion, Kayley even echoes her father’s final lines, while staring down the same foe: I will not serve a false king.

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Even the villain gets it: You’re in the way, just like your father. Since you’re dying to be just like him, lets see if I can help you out.

But he can’t, because, um, duh, villains never win. Kayley and Garrett defeat Ruber and finally, the are both knighted—Kayley holding her father’s shield! I’ve heard lots of complaints or criticisms from people that animated movies feature a lot of death of parental figures and that it doesn’t affect the main character as much as it should. Quest for Camelot is not one of those. Kayley’s father has never been far from her mind and probably pushed her harder.

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Disability in Quest for Camelot

Representation is SO important. The world is not made up for fully able bodied peoples. Ableism is a real problem and Quest for Camelot is a movie that tackles that. Garrett is blind, but that does not stop him from being a total badass and helping Kayley save the day. Cornwall and Devon are a two-headed dragon that can’t fly, breath fire, and well, are physically different because they have TWO HEADS.

  • Garrett: I Stand Alone

Garrett’s motto is the title of his song I Stand Alone. He was blinded in a stable fire after he risked himself to save the horses and was knocked in the eyes by a spooked horse. His dream of being a knight slipped away from him, ridiculed by the people of Camelot. Towards the end of the film, when Kayley says she wishes he could see Camelot, Garrett says, “I have seen it and there was no place for me.”

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Garrett might be physically disabled, but that doesn’t stop him. He’s a great fighter and his walking stick doubles as a weapon. Emotionally, however, Garrett is all locked up. His character arc isn’t about learning to overcome his blindness, it’s about overcoming the emotional walls he put up. When he saves Kayley from Ruber’s mechanical army in the beginning, there’s no hesitation. His disability does not make him feel weak because he’s not weak. In fact, when Kayley tells him Excalibur is somewhere in the forest, he’s ready to go and find it himself. He’s not lacking in bravery and strength. His real problem is emotional.

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The one exception to Garrett’s standing alone-ness is Aiden, a falcon. Aiden is his eyes, in Garrett’s words, and caws every time danger is about to strike. Garrett relies on his other senses, especially the auditory and olfactory ones.

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His fighting strategy, inn his own terms is, “Take position, face your fear, and hold your ground till the last possible moment.” Aiden is frequently the voice of when it is the last possible moment. This mantra is how Kayley and Garrett defeat Ruber at the end of the film.

There are other examples of Garrett using his senses in the the film, such as smell and touch when they enter Dragon Country. Kayley is unaware they’ve crossed over even though she can see it with her own eyes. Later, when they hatch a plan to get Exalibur back from a giant, Garret needs Kayley to describe the layout to him and then he’s able to come up with a plan. His hearing is very important and the moment he can’t hear is when he gets injured, but he’s healed by the knowledge of the forest he passed onto Kayley, such as which plants are medicinal.

Despite everything, Garrett does not lose his sense of humor.

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When he saves Kayley, meeting her for the first time, she doesn’t realize he’s blind right away. But when she does, she says, “Oh, I didn’t realize you were…” Garrett takes the opportunity to throw out some adjectives, like rugged and handsome, but when she finally says blind, he quips, “You know I always forget that one.”

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Later, when Kayley sees Aiden, also known as Merlin’s bird Silver Wings, she says, “Hey your bird has silver wings.” And Garrett, ever the charmer: “Really? I’ll have to take your word for it.”

Garrett is such a great step towards representation. While blind, this feature is a mere facet of who he is. He has wants, he wants to become a knight, but fears he can’t. He wants to be with Kayley, but is afraid. He had a life before we met him; he was a stable boy in Camelot. He’s sarcastic, already shown above. He’s not just the “blind warrior,” as Ruber calls him.

He eventually overcomes his fears when Kayley’s been captured. He goes back to Camelot and joins the fight. When they confront Ruber and the bastard breaks his walking stick, Kayley comes up with a plan to trap Excalibur back in the stone. They take position, face their fears, and hold their ground until the last possible moment, tricking Ruber and using Garrett’s technique. The film does not devalue Garrett because he is blind. In fact, they validate the things he’s learned, most importantly at the end of the film when it is Garrett’s tactics that prevail.

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  • Devon and Cornwall: If I Didn’t Have You

If I Didn’t Have You was one of my FAVORITE songs ever as a kid. I loved this musical number. It shocked me now to come back to these characters and see them in an entirely new light. Devon and Cornwall are the reason “cousins shouldn’t marry” (hello incest joke!). They’re not classically handicapped and I don’t want to say they are a mutation, but they’re different from the norm. I think an argument can be made that they are a symbol of disability. Seriously, I do not want to offend anyone and I’m really nervous. I want to phrase this properly and respectfully. Devon and Cornwall also can’t breathe fire or fly, which are serious disabilities if you’re a dragon and Devon and Cornwall certainly are.

They are bullied by their fellow dragon-peers. Devon calls them “fire breathing bullies” and after they lead Kayley and Garrett underground to escape, they say they know every place to hide because they’ve been “dodging those bullies since we were two hundred years old.” Now, Devon and Cornwall aren’t disabled in the traditional sense like Garrett. Their problems fall on the fantastical side because of the nature of the film and the story being told, but I think the fact that they do look different and aren’t “normal” by conventional standards, does make them a symbol of disability.

Their song If I Didn’t Have You, while hilarious and witty, can be applied to anyone that wants to change something about themselves. It can be something as simple as, I wish I didn’t have a big nose, to something deeper like, I wish I wasn’t blind. Devon and Cornwall imagine all the possibilities their lives could go if they weren’t stuck with another head. Where Garrett’s arc is not about learning to cope with his disability, it is for the dragons. They’re not in the right headspace, constantly bickering with each other, and angsting. That changes as they gain confidence traveling with Kayley and Garrett.

The other part of the Devon/Cornwall conflict is that they can’t breath fire or fly. This is a more mental than physical problem, though they are unaware of this for the majority of the film. Once they stop bickering and putting each other down, once they are united because their friend Kayley is kidnapped, they can fly. When they notices they’re flying, they argue again, “I did it!” “You mean I did it!” Logical Garrett says: “Don’t you get it? The only reason you can’t fly is that you can’t agree on anything.” Obviously, no one’s disability is solved this easily but the message is that by loving yourself for who you are and embracing every part of you, you won’t be beholden to your disability.

Finally, at the end of the film, Devon and Cornwall DO get separated, but choose to be reattached. They love themselves the way they are.

Quest for Camelot: We’re all in this Together

  • United We Stand VS I Stand Alone VS Through Your Eyes

The music in Quest for Camelot really carries this theme of togetherness through till the very end. United We Stand is the opening song of the knights. It sets up the world and the values of the society.

United we stand
Now and forever
In truth, divided we fall

Hand upon hand
Brother to brother
No one shall be greater than all

From the start, this message of strength in numbers is told to us. Which, everyone knows the Knights of the Round Table are all about teamwork and crap like that. But then we meet Garrett and his song, I Stand Alone totally flips that.

Like every tree stands on its own
Reaching for the sky I stand alone
I share my world with no one else
All by myself I stand alone

As was already stated, Garrett’s arc is all about his overcoming that feeling. I mean, he lives in the FORBIDDEN Forest. He’s not about uniting and standing together. Garrett feels rejected by society, so he’s shut himself away. He tells Kayley flat out he’s a hermit and later, once he, Kayley, Devon, and Cornwall have made it out of dragon country in one piece, he says “Good news is, we’re out of dragon country, the better news is, this is where we say goodbye.” Garrett is not one for the whole team playing. Neither is Kayley, really, since after he finishes his song, she retorts, “I stand alone, too. I just need your help this once.” Kayley has always wanted to prove herself. She resents the gender roles that makes her a homemaker: “Taking care of the house… boring… where’s the glory in that?”

But, there’s Kayley, who he falls in love with. When he’s injured, Kayley can’t bear the thought of losing him. He’s not just her guide. She says, “Please don’t die, I can’t do this without you.” Kayley has always wanted to be a knight, but unlike Garrett, she never gave up on that dream. But she wanted to do great things on her own.

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Kayley, too, had to learn the power that comes from having a partner, from standing with someone (a la her “I stand alone, too” comment). After she heals him, they admit their feelings and the song Through Your Eyes plays. This song is all about two people becoming one, a unity.

Our two hearts are one
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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Kayley and Garrett have learned that some things can’t be done alone. That together, by standing together, they are stronger. Well… they only learn it for a little while, since once they reach Camelot, Garrett tells Kayley to return the sword alone.

Kayley: But we’ll deliver the sword together.
Garrett: No, you deliver it. I don’t belong in that world. (Instrumental I Stand Alone plays)
Kayley: (as he walks away) (whispering) But you belong in mine.

*Feels*

  • Things Everyone Learned

By the time Kayley decides to go back for Garrett, it’s too late. Ruber has already caught up to her. And once Garrett hears this, he goes after her, no questions asked. No more fear. The only hitch is, he’ll never make it to Camelot in time… unless Devon and Cornwall fly!

Devon and Cornwall are united in their love for Kayley and want to save her. The moment they put their differences aside because they are equal in their resolve to save their friend, they are a team! They can fly! They even choose to remain one at the end, instead of separating. They even protect Aiden/Silver Wings from Ruber’s gryffin. It’s not about one person. It’s about everyone helping everyone

Just before Kayley and Garrett stop Ruber and the creep thinks he’s won, he says, “Two for the price of one.” Again, it reminds is Kayley and Garrett are a team. But Ruber, actually, in a rather odd turn of events, actually also falls into this message of togetherness. He interrupts United We Stand and visually appears out of the shadows the first time we meet him, a sign that he’s different from everyone else. His beliefs aren’t in line. But, when he gets Excalibur, finally, he attaches it to his arm.

Like Hook.

So morbidly, Ruber too enters a unity with the sword and becomes one with it. It’s really weird and I wonder if the creators were thinking this way when they were building the story.

Let’s switch gears a little—because that got weird fast—and look at King Arthur, Camelot, and his knights. Arthur also needs to be reminded of the importance of teamwork. He wants to go after Ruber and get Excalibur back, but he was wounded in Ruber’s attack and must heed Merlin’s advice: he must rely on the courage of his people. People! More than one. It’s not about valiant King Arthur riding in and saving the day. It’s about a collective force coming together.

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Visually, we’re also shown the three ringed symbol of Arthur’s rule: the one true king, the sword, and the lands he united. We also see subjects dancing in large group numbers. Everything is collective here. That message of united we stand isn’t lost in simple world building aspects like this.

  • Wrapping Up

If it wasn’t totally obvious, I completely recommend Quest for Camelot. It does fail in the people of color aspect, everyone is white. But it does show us grief, a mother/daughter relationship I didn’t get to touch on but is very strong and also important, and really, most importantly Garrett: a strong amazing blind character. Devon and Cornwall too are important in terms of disability, but they’re merely just symbols. Garrett is a human, is disabled, and kicks ass (literally and figuratively).

What do you think? Have you seen Quest for Camelot? What’s your favorite song?

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Cheers,
-M&M!