Tag Archives: cinderella

Fear and Love at First Sight: An Examination of Disney Princesses and Their Princes

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Ariel and Eric are probably my Disney OTP (besides Esmeralda/Phoebus and Jane/Tarzan and Jasmine/Aladdin and Pocahontas/John Smith *cough*). I, and I’m sure many of you, have wanted to meet our Prince Charming with a perfect Love at First Sight moment we frequently associate with Disney. But I took a closer look at all the Princess/Prince meetings and um… well… I noticed a lot of trends that don’t really sit well with me. Let’s explore!

Pre-Renaissance Films
The Pre-Renaissance princess movies are Snow White, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty. All three meetings are a very typical ‘love at first sight’  storybook scene. However, in the case of Snow White and Aurora, their prince appears out of nowhere, drawn by their voice and startling them. Snow White actually runs into her castle because she’s so scared, while Aurora pulls away. The meeting in Cinderella is less creepy since it happens at a party, where one would expect to meet new people.

Though Cinderella isn’t singing like the other two princesses are when they meet their princes, music is still an important element in their meeting. Cinderella is the first film where dancing is introduced as both an important storytelling and romantic element.

cinderella and her princey dancing

There is also a song, and though it is sung with the impression it is Cinderella and her prince, they’re not actually singing in the scene. Instead, their meeting has a narrator of sorts, the Duke. In contrast, Snow White and Aurora are both singing alone and then have a duet with the prince (Snow White’s doesn’t last very long though, since she runs off when the prince startles her).

Snow White and Sleeping Beauty have many elements of their meetings in common. Firstly, both princes are on horseback. Animals are involved in both, with Aurora dancing with her owl friend and her other critters watching. In Snow White, Snow is singing to the doves. While Cinderella has mice friends and they did take her to the ball, they’re not present in this scene.

The settings for all three meetings are also similar. Snow White and Cinderella both happen in a castle and while Sleeping Beauty happens in the woods, they both stare at the castle in the distance afterwards.

sleeping beauty cuddling

The audience knows that castle is Aurora’s home, where she should be. Where Philip will have to battle his way to her and free her from Maleficent so they can be reunited. Cinderella meets the prince in his castle, where she ultimately belongs because she’s so good. It’s her escape from her stepmother. And while Snow White runs from the prince into the castle, at the end she leaves with him.

Setting is a theme we’re going to see repeated as well as some other points I made above.

To recap the pre-Renaissance Love at First Sight moments: running away, music, instant attraction, and castles.

star wars uhh reaction

Renaissance Films
We skip ahead a bunch of years and come to The Little Mermaid. TLM is the first film where we have a sort of ‘two meetings’ thing happen (it’ll make sense as we go on).

The first difference, and my favorite, is what draws Ariel and Eric together. Where Prince Charming and Philip were drawn by the sound of a mysterious voice and that’s how they find their princess, Ariel goes to the surface simply because she wants to see the ship.

little mermaid we're out to discover Exactly, Scuttle.

Then, she notices the fireworks and her curiosity skyrockets. For the first time in Disney Princess History, neither of them were looking for/drawn to each other. However, the only piece of Ariel Eric has is her voice, thus the trend does live on. We’ll come back to this.

Music too is involved here, though neither of them is singing. Eric is playing a flute, while crewmembers dance and play instruments. Another common theme is the presence of animals: Max (Eric’s dog), and Scuttle. Scuttle also marks the first meeting where a princess has a friend present. Aurora is with her forest buddies, but they’re just passively watching everything happening. Scuttle is actively involved, talking with Ariel throughout. If only Ariel could have had another mermaid as a friend, or maybe even one of her sisters. (Princesses need friends, too!)

Ariel watches Eric, much like Philip and Charming watched Aurora and Snow. It’s love at first sight for her. However, I give her a pass because she actually sees Eric acting like a decent human being. She sees that he has the same lust for adventure she does (when Grimsby tries to tell him he needs to marry and he’s not having it), she sees that he’s humble (disgusted by the giant statue of himself), creative/artistic (the flute), AND is a total sweetheart when it comes to his dog. Please tell me who would not turn to mush at a real life Eric?

my body is ready reaction my body is ready hook reaction my body is ready copy reaction

Exactly. Boys and their dog get me every time. Philip and Charming just watched Aurora and Snow singing and talking to animals. Neither of those things seem very healthy.

But then, BOOM! Chaos. A storm! The ship EXPLODES! Ariel rescues Eric after witnessing him selflessly going back for his dog. Now she knows he’s courageous. When he wakes up on shore, Eric finally sees Ariel for the first time. She probably looked like an angel to him, with the sun hitting her the way it did and her perfect voice. Before they can talk, she’s startled by Max and Grimsby—just like the pre-Renaissance ladies running away.

little mermaid fuck mermaids reaction

The second time they meet is when Ariel has legs. They’re on the beach this time, with the castle in the distance. That is where Ariel is going to end up, visually illustrated as Eric offers her his support so she can walk with him. But the first time Ariel saw him, he was on a ship, perfectly straddling the line between their two worlds. They’re also on a beach, near the water, Ariel’s world, but firmly on land, Eric’s world. The castle visual remains in their first mutual meeting, while Ariel seeing him on a ship before is also significant.

The meeting is again facilitated by Max (animals shipping Disney couples since 1937!), who spooks Ariel onto the rock. Max is barking and unfamiliar and chasing her, so she’s rightfully a little scared.

And now here is the most important discovery I made: Every princess is scared during their so called “Love at First Sight” scenes. In Snow White a stranger pops out of nowhere and Snow literally runs away and barricades herself in her castle. This screams fear. Aurora is also scared, running and hiding behind a tree.In Cinderella, yes, it is definitely way less creepy and she does not present the same amount of fear. However, Charming approaches her from behind and she jumps when he touches her, hesitating before accepting. We can argue Cinderella is more shy and coy. If we had to pick one as the exception to the rule, I’d pick her.

cinderella and prince

Now Ariel is never fearful around Eric like Snow, Cinderella, and Aurora were. But when the ship begins to burn, she realizes there’s danger. And later, when Grimsby and Max arrive, she’s scared of them and also what would happen if they knew she was a mermaid. So far the princesses have either been scared of their suitors or there is an element of danger surrounding them. This theme is going to come up in every single movie.

this displeases me reaction

Their second meeting is kind of a twist on the “Love at First Sight” trope. Though Eric is clearly drawn to her, he’s disappointed when he thinks she’s not the girl that saved him and so he tries not to like her that way. Spoiler alert: he fails.

little mermaid prince-eric-laughing

Next we have Beauty and the Beast and I’m going to jump right into fear because um… Belle and the Beast do NOT have a love at first sight moment at all. Belle is terrified of the Beast. He’s holding her father captive, slithering around in the dark, and yelling and threatening her. He physically grabs her and throws her to the ground.

Like Ariel saving Eric during their meeting, Belle is also trying to save someone she loves: her father. A trend of heroism develops here and continues into the Renaissance era.

The setting here is also a castle and instead of animals, there are inanimate objects everywhere. Their gossip is an important aspect of the scene because they’re talking about needing Belle to save them as she’s trying to save her father. Ultimately, this castle needs her and she’s accepted in it in a way she never was in her small town. And then of course, it also becomes her home, too.

frozen me... feels reaction

This meeting is the first one when the prince isn’t immediately visible to the princess. Belle needs to tell the Beast to “come into the light.” This is something we’ll see repeated with Tangled. Also important to note, this is the first meeting with no music involved. The Beast isn’t drawn to Belle’s voice, nor is there a romantic song they sing together like in Snow White, Cinderella, or Sleeping Beauty. Perhaps this is because Belle does not fall in love this version of the Beast. She only cares for him after he changes his attitude and stops acting like such a dickwad. That is when they have their duet.

All right, let’s head to our next film: Aladdin. Like our other princesses being scared, Jasmine is about to have her HAND CUT OFF. Yes, she’s terrified. Jasmine comes from a very clinical environment where all her needs are met. No one has ever raised a hand to her and here is this giant man with a knife and she has no idea why she’s in trouble. Cue: terror.

Also cue: ALADDIN!

I mentioned this theme of heroism in the Renaissance first meetings and here’s another one: Aladdin saving Jasmine. This first meeting builds on the one in TLM where Ariel sees Eric being a decent, normal dude. In Aladdin, he sees her giving an apple to a child (just like he did with bread!), so while he is clearly drawn by her looks (“Wow.”), there is something deeper there. The scene also establishes that he and Jasmine work well together to get out of a very bad situation. She questions him initially, but plays along right away. However, Aladdin saving Jasmine reverses the mini-trend of women saving men.

Like other meetings, animals are involved (Abu). There’s also a familiar shot of Aladdin watching Jasmine similar to Philip and Charming and yes, it’s cute, but it is also is a tad creepy.

aladdin watching jasmine

There is no song involved and here is where the trend of saving that big duet moment happens. Well, it technically started in Beauty and the Beast (Something There happens later), but it continues here, thus making it a trend. While the pre-Renaissance films where all “Love at First Sight” these later films added more obstacles to their love stories, so while there was instant attraction, they didn’t immediately act on it. The importance of voice dies out in Aladdin. While singing voices led men to women (Snow White, Aurora, Ariel) or there was singing during their meeting (Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty), that common thread is cut.

Aladdin and Jasmine meet in the marketplace. I like the symbolism here again as they’re between worlds. Like Eric was on a ship, a piece of land on water, in between, Jasmine and Aladdin are meeting in the middle, too. Jasmine has left the palace and is among common people, while Aladdin is in the “city” so to speak and later brings Jasmine to the outskirts, where he lives. And of course, they look at the palace, like Aurora and Philip. Aladdin longs to live there and with Jasmine at his side, not knowing she’s the princess, he will eventually.

aladdin

This leads to Pocahontas, where John Smith PULLS A GUN ON HER. Pocahontas is already wary (but curious) because John is a stranger and invader and now this. She doesn’t physically appear scared, she seems calm the entire time.

pocahontas in the mist

And even if she is not afraid of John Smith, neither were Ariel and Jasmine. They were scared because of what was happening around them and the element of danger. A gun pointed at you definitely qualifies as an element of danger present in a so called LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT meeting.

aladdin what

The mood changes quickly, though. After she runs off, like the pre-Renaissance princesses (and Ariel), a more traditional first meeting happens. The music and the flying leaves when their hands meet is more romantic and dreamy. That is the scene we see their attraction happen.

pocahontas holding hands

This meeting brings back a musical element since John was just singing Mine, Mine, Mine. There’s also animals present as Meeko and Flit watch. Pocahontas falls back on a lot of old tropes. However, in a move only Philip and Eric have made, John Smith asks for her name, which I am very proud of.

The setting here is the wilderness, something we haven’t seen since Sleeping Beauty. Pocahontas is not with her tribe or by Mother Willow, so she’s out on her own, kind of in her own space. And John Smith is new, so he has no place that’s familiar yet. In a way, they both meet in a strange land to signify the new world they’ll create together.

From there we move to Mulan. Like Beauty and the Beast and their decidedly not “Love at First Sight” meeting, the same applies here. And like Eric thinking the girl he met on the beach wasn’t his savior, Shang of course has no idea Mulan is about to blow his mind.

reaction giggling noise

There is a huge emphasis on names in this scene, something other meetings have lacked. Similar to how Jasmine and Ariel never feared Aladdin or Eric, Mulan isn’t afraid of Shang, but he is the authority figure and she’s clearly frazzled. However, the element of danger here is the fact that Mulan was just the target of a legit fight. The entire camp has been fighting with Mulan buried underneath them. Her meeting with Shang is also her first real test at being a man so she’s understandably nervous. Still, it fits an unnerving trend of princesses being afraid or under threat in their supposedly “Love at First Sight” moments.

Mushu is the animal present in the scene. Their setting is also out in nature, getting ready for war. I think this ties back into Mulan’s own personal story and I like that.

Modern Films
Now we hit the most recent princess films. Princess and the Frog obviously meets the animal trend since Naveen is a frog when they meet. Like TLM, though, they also have two meetings. There is a quick scene in the beginning when Naveen is playing music and trying to be charming, but Tiana is not having it. However, fear is back in their second meeting.

Tiana is startled because there’s a talking frog! And also, what was he doing on the balcony? He was just there, like the pre-Renaissance princes happened to be. In something we see continued in Tangled, Tiana physically assaults Naveen with books since she’s so scared. Naveen does apologize for scaring her, which is nice, but that’s probably because he needs her to kiss him.

Several new things continue to arise in this film. Tiana is concerned for her friend Lottie who is dancing with a fake prince Naveen. Of course, no other princess has needed to be concerned for their human friends since they never had one before (besides Pocahontas).

princess and the frog bestie hug

This is definitely not a “Love at First Sight” scene, but still, it’s the only one where they kiss as soon as they meet! Again, the plot hinges on Tiana kissing him so there’s a reason for it, but she did still kiss him. Like Ariel, Belle, and Aladdin, the thread of heroism returns since Tiana was trying to save Naveen. New and old elements combine in Princess and the Frog.

Our trip though Disney Princess History takes us to Tangled. I touched on it previously, but Rapunzel smacks Flynn with a frying pan since she’s so scared of the strange man that climbs into her room, a la Tiana. Flynn also shares some similarities with Naveen. Naveen is definitely more flirty (seriously go watch that scene over with this in mind), but Flynn tries to use his smolder.

tangled meeting

When it fails, he drops the act and just wants to get as far away from Rapunzel as possible.

Unlike any other scene, except maybe Mulan, their first meeting is more about Rapunzel proving herself to Gothel. After she hits him with the frying pan, cowers behind a mannequin, and checks him for sharp pointy teeth, she traps him in her closet to prove to Gothel she can take care of herself.

tangled pascal

In between she also tries on the tiara he stole and while it maybe seems familiar to her, it is quickly forgotten when Gothel returns. Later, after Flynn assures her he wants nothing to do with her hair, Rapunzel is confused. After all, Gothel swore her everyone would be out to get her. But like he also had normal teeth instead of terrifying ones, Flynn represents her freedom from Gothel. He guides her out of her isolation.

As discussed, like TLM there are two meetings. One where Rapunzel sees him (like Ariel watching the ship) and one where they actually talk for the first time. Tangled also draws other parallels to films like Beauty and the Beast. Rapunzel is first cloaked in darkness and steps into the light so Flynn can see her. While the Beast hid himself away because he believed himself hideous and unlovable, Rapunzel did it partly out of fear and suspicion.

As the pre-Renaissance films had an emphasis on music, a reprise of Rapunzel’s solo song follows their meeting and her subsequent leaving of the tower.

tangled now's when my life begins copy

And like the Renaissance films, their big duet comes later.

Their meeting is her tower because, as I said, Flynn represents the world and life Rapunzel can have. They leave together to see the lights.

reaction dead from the feels

Finally, this brings us to Frozen. Frozen has two meetings and while I considered if I had to include Anna meeting Hans since he’s not her true love, I rewatched the scene to see if it played with any tropes I’d already noticed or diverged from the usual meetings as a sign that Hans was not a good guy.

What I found was this:

-the Hans/Anna meeting plays out very cutesy and storybook-like (what you’d expect of a “Love at First Sight” scene)

frozen gorgeous wait what

-danger is present since she gets HIT BY A HORSE and falls onto a boat that nearly topples into a lake

-prince on horseback trope reappears (Snow White, Sleeping Beauty)

-no visible castle but Anna’s status is immediately told + mentions of the coronation

This takes us to Anna meeting Kristoff. Now, Frozen bothered me since it hated on previous Disney love stories. You’d expect then that this meeting would be very different from the others. However, Anna has the same fear as the other meetings discussed. Kristoff is covered in snow, not clearly visible like the Beast, and she backs away from him.

frozen awkward

Like Tiana, she expresses concern over her friend/sister since she has a person she can do that for! While Tiana wanted to know who Lottie was dancing with if he was with her, Anna wanted to know what Kristoff knew about Elsa.

This scene is a contrast to the perfect meeting she has with Hans. While Hans is perfect and charming, Kristoff is gruff. He doesn’t make a good first impression on her or Oaken since he gets tossed out of the store. Similarly, Mulan makes a horrid first impression as the center of a fight and unable to pick a name for herself. It’s not a traditional “Love at First Sight” scene but we’ve already seen several of those (Mulan, Beauty and the Beast, Princess and the Frog).

It even has an animal involved since Kristoff needs to buy carrots for Sven and Sven is waiting for him right outside the shop. Clearly, Frozen’s “you can’t marry someone you just met” love story doesn’t really hold up when compared to other princess meetings.

Conclusion
Wow! That was a lot of films! Okay, so the trends that carried through all were DANGER! FEAR! (which is great… not) and the presence of animals. We’ve also seen the importance of music and setting. All the eras also had their own particular features like heroism and the removal of a song while couples met. In the more recent films we saw a lot of physical humor added, even in Frozen, where Kristoff is thrown from the shop and hits his head on the sign. But the eras also weaved in and out of each other with similar aspects reappearing like women running away or light vs dark.

Some stand out meetings, I think, are Tangled, where there’s less focus on them as a couple and more focus on Rapunzel beginning to realize some of the things Gothel had told her were wrong. I also loved how Ariel saw Eric for the first time and it was a total surprise since she was just excited about the fireworks. Still, she got to see several sides of him (his adorableness with his dog, his disgust at a statue in his honor) that told her something about who he was instead of the three previous couples before her where there was no depth to why they fancied each other.

Fun Facts:

-Sleeping Beauty is the first film where Aurora is actually like, “What the hell you’re a stranger!!” (Not really, but kinda.) Points for that!

-Snow is the only princess that actively wishes for love and then POOF: Prince.

-Cinderella is the first film there’s an iconic dance.

-Prince Philip is the first prince to ask his love for her NAME upon meeting her (though it happens after Once Upon a Dream). Eric asks Ariel for her name during their second meeting. I think it’s hilarious while the Prince in Cinderella is begging her to stay he never once asks for her name.

-Belle and Anna both have two suitors, one being the villain of their film. While Anna and Hans have a first meeting scene, Belle and Gaston do not since they already know each other.

-Snow White and Tiana are both wishing, one by a wishing well and the other on a star, when they meet their prince.

-The setting in Princess and the Frog is a mansion, instead of a castle. There is also a party like in Cinderella.


Which is your favorite True Love Meeting? What do you think of all these common threads? What are some other fun facts you noticed?

Follow Animated Meta on Tumblr and Twitter. See you next week!

Cheers,

M&M

Cinderella: Class vs Classy

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Disney’s Cinderella is coming out in theatres March 13th, so I thought it would be nice to take a look at its animated counterpart, and see what we love so much about that. So here are all of the reasons why I think Disney’s Cinderella is awesome, from the utterly shallow to the deep and feelsy.

 

Cinderella’s two best qualities are her optimistic attitude, and the way that she never lets anyone tear her down or squash her dreams.

cinderella

Okay, so all of the Disney princesses have qualities that make them amazing. For Cinderella, that’s her kind heart and her optimism.

cinderella and the mice

Cinderella is just a sweetheart, okay? She makes clothes for the mice and feeds them. She puts basically everyone else in the world before herself, and when she finally does put herself first and goes to the ball, it’s such a great moment, because we get to see her being happy.

She’s also incredibly determined. No matter how awful her stepsisters and stepmother are to her, and no matter how bleak life seems, Cinderella tries her best to persevere. She breaks down sometimes, and that’s okay, because she always picks herself back up, stronger than ever. She won’t let other people stop her from following her dreams, and that determination is what leads to her ending up with the prince at the end.

cinderella fairy godmothercinderella always resiliannt

We talk a lot about strong women in the media, and while physically strong women tend to get the most focus, Cinderella is emotionally strong, which is incredibly important. Her strength lies in her compassion and empathy, in her optimism and ability to hold herself together. And I think that’s really important and often underrated. 🙂

 

The mice are adorable and awesome.

cinderella mouse

I love the mice. They have this awesome symbiotic relationship with Cinderella, where she helps them out and takes care of them, and in return, they are the most adorable, loyal friends a girl could ask for. When Cinderella doesn’t have time to step in and finish her dress, guess who does it for her? The mice. When Cinderella gets locked away by her wicked stepmother when the prince arrives, guess who steals back the key for her? If you said “the mice” you’re right!

cinderella micecinderella mouse girl

I find the way that they look out for Cinderella endearing, and it’s great seeing how much they care about her and all that she does for them. Unlike her stepfamily, who doesn’t appreciate her at all, the mice definitely do, and her respect and kindness toward them is part of why they’re so eager to help her whenever she needs them. It’s fabulous.

 

It tackles class and status in an interesting way.

I’ve talked about this before, but just like the Brothers Grimm version of the fairytale, Disney’s version of Cinderella tackles both class and status in a really cool way. Lady Tremaine is so consumed with status. She’s so determined for her daughters to marry up and rise above, and she’s equally determined to make sure Cinderella doesn’t do the same. But like Mic and I mentioned in our last meta, the villains that fight so hard for power and status always end up failing, and that’s exactly what happens to Lady Tremaine and her stepdaughters. Even though they’ve tried so hard to put Cinderella down, she still rises above them and elevates in status not through any trickery, but because she wins over the prince by being her wonderful flawless self. They can tear up her gown and lock her away, but she’ll just gain another one and break free, because Cinderella’s perseverance allows her to get what she desires: freedom from her situation.

We’re told that Lady Tremaine envies Cinderella’s appearance, but in a way I think she also envies her inner beauty: her grace and her determination and poise, how she doesn’t sink to anyone’s level but instead rises above it all. Cinderella teaches us that class isn’t always about social class: sometimes, it’s about being classy. It’s about treating people the way you would want to be treated, and not letting others tear you down. It’s about letting go of hatred and moving on from the toxic people in your life. The Grimm Brothers’ Cinderella lets birds peck out her stepsisters’ eyes. Disney’s Cinderella simply gets off into her carriage and rides away to her happily-ever-after.

There’s this great quote: “How beautiful it is to stay silent when someone expects you to be enraged.” And that sums up Cinderella so wonderfully, I think. She would rather stay silent and move on with her life, which is a much better diss than any reaction ever could be.

 

The fashion in this movie is so on point.

This is a shallow reason, but I love the clothes in this movie. Cinderella’s dresses, the cute little clothes the mice wear…even some of the things Lady Tremaine and her stepdaughters wear are pretty eye-catching. I mean, look at this stuff. Isn’t it neat?

cinderella transformation scene

cinderella's first dress

cinderella's mouse shirt

cinderella druzilla

 

So is the animation! That scenery is just…wow.

I have a lot of beef with the older Disney princess movies. But the animation in them is flawless, especially in Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella. The detailing that goes into the backgrounds and scenery is phenomenal. Just…there aren’t even words.

cinderella that wallpaper

cinderella the castle

cinderella ballroom

 

Cinderella and the Prince have a surprising amount of chemistry, despite how little their relationship is developed.

cinderella and her princey dancing

In the older Disney Princess films, we don’t get as much focus on the relationships at hand. However, even with the lack of scenes Cinderella and Prince Charming share, they ooze with chemistry and almost make up for it in a way. One of my favorite scenes is that scene when they meet at the ball, and the steward narrates the two of them meeting, and says: “He looks up, for lo, there she stands, the girl of his dreams.”

cinderella and prince

And when we see that scene of them meeting, there’s a definite chemistry between them. “So This Is Love” oozes with it, as we watch Cinderella and Prince Charming waltz on the dance floor, both utterly blown away by one another. It may not be love right off the bat, but there’s definitely something between them that just meshes well together.

cinderella dance

cinderella otp

There’s a sense that they spend a portion of the night together, chatting and getting to know one another (considering the montage) which is a start, and then at the end we get the pretty wedding scene in the carriage.

cinderella happy ending

Granted, we don’t see what really happens between those two scenes, but one can assume that the prince and Cinderella spend time getting to know one another, since there’s a definite feeling of a time lapse when it goes from the slipper fitting to the wedding. Either way, even though it would’ve been nice to see more development, nothing takes away from that sizzling chemistry and those gorgeous scenes that tug at your heartstrings.

 

The music is amazing.

The music in this movie is awesome and underrated. There’s Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo, which contains that gorgeous transformation scene we all adore.

cinderella's carriage

There’s So This Is Love, where the wonderful chemistry takes place between Cinderella and her Prince Charming, and we get to see happy Cinderella, which is always a nice thing.

And then there’s my favorite song in the entire move: A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes. It’s a song all about hope and dreams, and how if you want to accomplish your dreams, you can’t lose hope.

Have faith in your dreams and someday,

Your rainbow will come shining through

Cinderella’s strong faith in her dreams, and her determination to always look on the bright side, are exactly why her dreams end up coming true. And then there’s this beautiful part:

No matter how your heart is grieving,

If you keep on believing,

That dream that you wish will come true

In life, we undergo setbacks and hardships. Things don’t always go our way. But if we keep believing and fight for our dreams, our dreams will surely come true. That’s the most important thing Cinderella teaches us: never give up, never stop dreaming, and look on the bright side.

cinderella no matter how your heart is grieving

 

While Cinderella came out in the 50s and thus feels dated in some aspects, others are incredibly universal and easy to appreciate. With beautiful animation, an emotionally strong and endearing main character, and messages that remain universal even today, Cinderella was truly a Disney masterpiece. I eagerly await to see how it’s readapted over the years, and if anything can capture that same heart and warmth again.

What do you love most about Cinderella? Are you planning on seeing the live action adaptation? Let us know in the comments!

You can follow Animated Meta on Twitter and Tumblr. Have a beautiful Tuesday!

Cheers,

M&M

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

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

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

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

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

aladdin done w your shit reaction

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

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

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

snow white evil queen mirror

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

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

that's rubbish reaction

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

cinderella and stepmother

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

star wars uhh reaction

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

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

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

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

That’s not a healthy message to send whatsoever.

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

Maleficent: Badass and Not Much Else

sleeping beauty FOOLS

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

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

whatever cinderella reaction

hercules like a boss reaction crack

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

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

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

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

beauty and the beast fabulous reaction

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

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

You can follow Animated Meta on Twitter and Tumblr. Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Cheers,

M&M

Animated Love Songs (Part 1)

Standard

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.

tangled light 1tangled light 3

tangled light 2

Now she’s here, shining in the starlight

Now she’s here, and suddenly I know

If she’s here, it’s crystal clear

I’m where I’m meant to go

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

tangled rapunzel eugene lights

Now, let’s go back to that chorus:

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

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

And it’s warm and real and right,

And the world has somehow shifted

All at once, everything looks different

Now that I see you

tangled now that i see you

This is important: the chorus pops up twice.

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

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

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

 

So This Is Love – Cinderella (Mel)

cinderella and prince

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

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

So this is love -humming-

So this is love

So this is what makes life divine

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

cinderella and her princey dancing

I’m all aglow -humming-

And now I know (and now I know)

The key to all heaven is mine

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

My heart has wings -humming again-

And I can fly

I’ll touch every star in the sky

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

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

So this is love

cinderella otp

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

 

Once Upon a Dream – Sleeping Beauty (Mic)

sleeping beauty dance

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

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

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

sleeping beauty playing prince

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

sleeping beautiy cake candles life copy

So Aurora wants love and that makes sense.

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

anastasia dance

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

anastasia dimitri vlad

It’s one, two, three,

And suddenly, I see it at a glance

She’s radiant, and confident,

And born to take this chance

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

anastasia

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

I taught her well, I planned it all,

I just forgot… romance

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

anastasia shock copy

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

Vlad, how could you do this?

How will we get through this?

I should have never let them dance

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

anastasia kiss

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

 

Love – Robin Hood (Mic)

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

Once we watched a lazy world go by

Now the days seem to fly

robin hood hug

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

Love

It seems like only yesterday

You were just a child at play

Now you’re all grown up inside of me

robin hood ring so cute

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

robin hood love

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

 

If I Never Knew You – Pocahontas (Mel)

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

lion gross sobbing reaction

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

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

pocahontas you think the only people who are people

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

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

I would have no inkling of how precious life can be

(AND)

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

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

pocahontas with stick

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

(That sound you hear is Mic sobbing uncontrollably.)

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

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

In this world so full of fear,

Full of rage and lies,

I can see the truth so clear

In your eyes

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

I thought our love would be beautiful

Somehow we’d make the whole world bright

I never knew that fear and hate could be so strong

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

But still my heart is singing, we were right

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

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

pocahontas if i never knew you 3

Compare that to here:

pocahontas and john smith 4

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

pocahontas should i marry kocoum

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

pocahontas farewell 1pocahontas farewell 2

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

reaction owl fangirl hearts happy

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

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

Cheers!

M&M

Cinderella and Disneyfication

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As a little girl, Cinderella was my absolute favorite Disney movie, so it seemed fitting to tackle a Meta about her at some point. Between the Cinderella movie coming out in March, and Cinderella’s role in Into the Woods, my mind’s been on her for a while now, and today, I thought it would be interesting to compare one of the older, ‘original’ takes on Cinderella vs. how Disney translated the timeless fairytale onscreen.

Cinderella is one of those stories that every culture as to some extent, but for the sake of this Meta, I’ll be honing in on the Brothers Grimm version of the story. So how do these changes affect the overall story? Does the heart of the story stay intact despite the Disneyfication of the plot? We’ll find out. But first, what is Disneyfication? And how does it relate to Disney’s take on Cinderella?

 Disneyfication: Softening to Appeal to a Wider Audience

Well, Disneyfication is a term related to Disney; it refers to the way that Disney as a company often lightens fairytales for a younger audience. Business-wise, it makes a lot of sense; Disney is a family company, trying to appeal to parents and their children, so of course they would want to remove some of the harsher aspects of older fairytales.

In Cinderella, plenty of harsher elements are removed, in order to appeal to a wider audience. For example, in the Brothers Grimm tale, Cinderella’s stepmother cuts off the toe of one stepsister, and the heel of another, so that both girls can try and fit their feet into the slipper. Considering how grotesque that would look on screen, the animated movie skips this entirely and just has Cinderella’s stepsisters trying to squeeze their feet into the slipper with no avail. It’s more comical and less gory, but conveys a similar point: no matter how hard they try, neither can fool the prince into thinking they’re the princess.

The movie also avoids vengeance against Cinderella’s stepsisters. In the Brothers Grimm tale, Cinderella’s stepsisters are punished for trying to “ingratiate themselves and share in Cinderella’s good fortune” (Grimm 122). Their punishment? They’re blinded by doves. A bit harsh of a punishment, but that was how a lot of older fairytales were: the antagonists were given cruel punishments in order to scare children into behaving. In the Disney movie, we simply leave behind Cinderella’s stepsisters and stepmother as Cinderella goes off to the palace, which makes sense in a way; why bother when she’ll never have to deal with them anyway?

Here, removing harsher elements of the story removes unnecessary violence, but in turn, it removes an interesting facet of the story.

cinderella

There’s a lot of vanity involved with Cinderella’s stepmother and stepsisters, and while we get a small dose of that in the animated movie, here it’s more intense. These girls are willing to cut off parts of their feet in order to secure a better position for themselves as the prince’s wife. How desperate must they be that they’re willing to go this far to be a princess? They’re cutting away parts of themselves in order to fit into a mold, which reminds me a lot of beauty expectations women in society face. The Brothers Grimm may have written their version of Cinderella ages ago, but the grim message about the dark side of trying to achieve beauty and status is still very chilling and very applicable to today.

Still, despite the violence removed, we do see more harshness toward Cinderella in the animated movie than we do in the fairytale. Granted, fairytales don’t tend to have very fleshed out characters, so it makes sense that here, we would see more of the vileness of Cinderella’s step-sisters and stepmother, but it’s interesting how they’re portrayed. Her stepsisters are cruel, snappy toward her, and act like bullies, and her stepmother is just as bad. There are two particular scenes that portray their cruelty well.

The first happens near the end of the movie, when Cinderella’s stepmother locks her in the attic to keep the prince from seeing her, which basically cements her as the worst, and a hindrance to Cinderella’s goals.

The second is more uncomfortable: it’s the scene when Cinderella comes down in her beautiful pink dress (the one she and the mice handmade), and her stepsisters tear her dress apart while she’s still in it. Lady Tremaine is the one who sparks the action – spotting the blue beads around Cinderella’s neck, and pointing them out to her daughters – and the daughters go from there, taking back what they believe is rightfully “theirs,” screaming and ripping at her dress and leaving Cinderella in rags. The scene ends with her sobbing in the garden, a hysterical mess. There’s this strong feeling of violation and humiliation that makes watching the scene uncomfortable for me to this day. It’s meant to show the stepsisters’ entitlement, and how they feel they deserve to go to the ball while Cinderella does not, because she is lower than them. They’re trying to establish their dominance over her, which goes back to the beauty and status theme that I mentioned earlier. So in a way some of the root themes of the story stay, even if they’re shown differently.

Now that we’ve covered the gorier cuts from the original, and some additions to flesh out Cinderella’s stepmother and stepsisters what else has been lost? What has been condensed? Well, the ball itself, for one.

Three Day Ball Turned Into One
One of the cuts that made the most sense in the movie is cutting down the ball from a three-day event into one night. Obviously, this makes sense because animated movies need to convey a lot in a short period of time, so cutting down the time makes it easier to focus on that one night at the ball, instead of having to cover three separate ones.

cinderella and prince

The movie takes advantage of this, using the time to really hone in on Cinderella and the Prince’s first meeting, giving us a glimpse of how they danced all night, and their conversations. Like the story, Cinderella loses her slipper, but rather than getting stuck in pitch, it slides off her foot, making it more of an accident, rather than a manipulation by the prince to trap her. Thus, cutting the pitch detail makes Prince Charming a bit less creepy in our eyes.

One of the cuts I did not appreciate, however, was a certain change in roles from the original tale to the animated movie. I’m talking about how Cinderella’s mother was cut out entirely and replaced by a fairy godmother.

Mother Tree vs. Fairy Godmother
Okay, don’t get me wrong. I appreciate Cinderella’s cool fairy godmother. I love Bippity Boppity Boo and the beautiful sequence when we see the pumpkin turn into the carriage, and how Cinderella’s dress is transformed into the stunning iconic blue gown.

cinderella transformation scene

But in the original tale, Cinderella didn’t have a fairy godmother. Instead, her mother’s spirit was the ‘fairy godmother’ of her story. Her father brings her home a hazel branch after she requests a small branch, and Cinderella plants the branch by her mother’s grave. Here, her mother has a strong presence, and Cinderella’s tears are what spur the branch to grow into a beautiful tree. She prays and weeps for her mother, seeking comfort from her spirit, and finds something interesting: she can make wishes by the tree. “If she made a wish, the little bird would toss down what she had wished for” (Grimm 118). Obviously, this comes back into play when Cinderella wants to go to the ball. Here, we have an established form of wishing, and Cinderella seeks out her mother’s tree in order to go to the ball. “Shake your branches, little tree, toss gold and silver down on me,” she calls, and the little bird tosses down a beautiful silver and gold dress; quite different from the blue gown we see in the animated movie (Grimm 119).

cinderella into woodscinderella into the woods

What I’ve always loved about this version of the tale is the maternal presence. Even though Cinderella’s mother is dead, we still get her presence and her spirit, watching over her daughter and granting her wishes in order to help her achieve her dreams.

cinderella into the woods  mother

In the animated movie, that maternal edge and the spiritual undertones are lost entirely. The animated version of Cinderella doesn’t even mention her mother; we get a mention in the narration of her father being a widow, but we hear nothing about Cinderella’s mother, or her impact on her. Cinderella’s own ‘mother figure,’ Lady Tremaine, isn’t exactly motherly either; Lady Tremaine is cruel and ruthless, treating Cinderella more like a servant than she does a daughter. Unlike the Brothers Grimm tale, which doesn’t explain the motivations between the stepmother and her step-daughters’ cruelty toward Cinderella, the animated movie gives us a very interesting motivation: envy, and vanity. We’re told that Lady Tremaine is “bitterly jealous of Cinderella’s charm and beauty,” which is really no reason to demean a child and turn them into your personal servant, but it does give us glance into her mindset. Drusilla and Anastasia follow suit with their mother’s behavior, which she likely encouraged, and it’s possible that they too are envious of her beauty.

Instead of Cinderella’s mother’s tree, we have Cinderella’s fairy godmother, who is more like a kindly grandmother figure than she is a mother to Cinderella. “Oh come now, dry those tears,” she says, helping Cinderella up from the bench she’s been sobbing on. “You can’t go to the ball looking like that.”

cinderella fairy godmother

Unlike the Brothers Grimm tale, where Cinderella simply gets the dress and gets to the ball on her own, Cinderella’s fairy godmother gets everything all set up for her: the carriage, the horses, the dress…all Cinderella has to do is get in and go to the ball.

cinderella's carriage

It’s a great scene, but by taking Cinderella’s mother out of the picture, there’s something lost here for me. Disney has a thing about taking parents out of the picture, and to me, having Cinderella’s mother be involved in the story would’ve been a really beautiful thing. Alas, instead, we have her fairy godmother, which is well and good, but is it as sentimental? Not quite.

Conclusion
Is Cinderella one of those Disney movies that will always warm my nostalgic heart? Yes, definitely.

Is there something lost in removing some of the elements of the story? Definitely.
Adaptations aren’t always perfect. Disney’s Cinderella does a great job of capturing the core of the story: Cinderella’s hope and perseverance, even when times are rough, and how that hope brings her the happily-ever-after she deserves. However, by cutting the darker and more spiritual elements of the Brothers Grimm tale, Cinderella loses some of its dark take on society, status, and beauty, and there’s also a maternal bond lost. It’s a bit of a mixed bag: the changes made are understandable, but by watering down the story, something is missing.

What do you guys think? What’s your favorite version of the Cinderella story? Do you think Disney does a good job adapting fairytales, or is too much of the original story lost due to Disneyfication? Let us know in the comments!

You can follow Animated Meta on Twitter and Tumblr. Happy Tuesday!

Cheers,
M&M

 

Works Cited
Grimm, B. (1999). Cinderella. In M. Tatar, The Classic Fairy Tales (pp. 117-122). New York: Norton & Company.

Disney Princess “I Want” Songs: Part 1

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Today, I’m talking about one of the fun aspects of the Disney Princess movies: the music. More specifically, I’m going to talk about each princess’s “I Want” song. That means that this post (and next Tuesday’s; I’ll explain in a moment) are going to be about what exactly an “I Want” song is, what the common trends are among them, and then I’m going to analyze those songs.

I’ve wanted to do this for a really, really long time, so I’m super excited to get started. But first, a few notes. I composed my Disney Princess list based on Disney’s considerations of what a Disney princess is, so that means Mulan, who technically isn’t royalty, makes it onto the list, while Eilonwy, Nala, Kiara, and others, who could be considered princesses in their own right, are not on the list. Maybe I’ll come back to them at some point later on.

Since there are 11 princesses with “I Want” songs, I’m going to be splitting this post right down the middle. Sorry guys; you’ll get the other half next Tuesday. I could do all 11 at once, but honestly, the word count would be really, really huge, and our eyes would all burn trying to read it, so it’s better to split it somewhere in the middle and save us both the pain. (Plus, it gives you something to anticipate! And isn’t that fun?)

I know that Merida counts as a Disney princess, but Merida is also a unique circumstance because she was created by Pixar, and does not have an “I Want” song in the tradition of the other princesses. She has an “I Want” speech, as my lovely blogging partner Mic pointed out, but that is not a song, so alas, she is not on the list. I also did not include Elsa on the list, because Elsa is a queen, and she’s also not a primary protagonist in the way that Anna is.

What On Earth is an “I Want” Song?
So what is an “I Want” song? If you’ve seen a Disney movie before, you’ve most likely heard one. According to TV Tropes, the purpose of the ‘I Want’ song is to “[establish] the character of the protagonist and their one burning desire that will motivate their actions from here on” (“I Want” Song). Basically, it tells you what on earth the character wants, and tells us a little something about the character as well. And since this is Disney and the majority of these movies end happily, the protagonist gets exactly what they wanted in the end.

A non-princess example: in The Hunchback of Notre Dame (which I just talked about recently), Quasimodo’s “I Want” song would be Out There. His want is to just have one day out in the open, just like everyone else. And what do you know? He gets that at the end of the movie, after some mishaps. 😉
So now that you know what the song is, you probably want to know why I chose this topic. Well, because 1) I love Disney music so much, and 2) because the last time I was on a Disney listening spree, I noticed patterns between all of the “I Want” songs.

The Top Three Wants
After a lot of listening, I’ve discovered a pattern…or rather, a few patterns. In general, there are three top wants that Disney characters tend to have:

1) Adventure
2) Acceptance
3) Love

Now, those all seem like pretty common wants, yes? That’s because they’re core human wants. Some of us long for adventure in the great wide somewhere, like Belle and Ariel. Some of us long for people to accept who we are deep down inside, like Mulan. And some of us have that deep-seated longing for love, like Snow White and Aurora.

Today, I’m only talking about five princesses to start with, which means we’ll get through the pre-Renaissance (the start of the princesses) and begin digging into the Disney Renaissance (which contains some of my absolute favorite Disney movies). And where better to start than the beginning of the princesses?

Pre-Renaissance Princesses
If you want to be technical, the pre-renaissance era at Disney is considered 1977-1988, which is way after all three of these movies were released. But I’ve always considered these pre-Renaissance because they take place before the Disney Renaissance, and thus are the beginning of Disney’s animated history. These all came out at least 50 years ago: Snow White came out in 1937, Cinderella came out more than a dozen years later in 1950, and Sleeping Beauty came out just before the 60s in 1959. Thus, these three often come off as the most dated to us, because they come from a very different time in history, with a very different set of values. However, I think the “I Want” songs still carry a lot of desires that we have today.

So let’s start with the original Disney Princess: the lovely Snow White.

Snow White: I’m Wishing

snow white i'm wishing
Snow White’s “I Want” song is the pretty (if slightly piercing) “I’m Wishing.” Snow’s song is sweet, simple, and to the point: she wants someone to love, and she wants him to love her too. She dreams of him complimenting her as well, which makes sense, since she and the Evil Queen obviously doesn’t see eye to eye. From what little we can infer, it’s obvious Snow doesn’t have much of a social life early on in the movie.

So does Snow get her wish? Well, the second her song ends, the prince shows up, with his own song to sing for her (“One Song”) and then it seems like our lovebirds are all set. However, it takes a little longer than that for Snow and him to find one another again, especially since Snow’s busy hiding from the Evil Queen for the majority of the movie. However, in the end, her prince wakes her with true love’s kiss, and together they ride off to the castle. So it looks like that wishing well did Snow White some good after all.

 

Cinderella: A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes

cinderella no matter how your heart is grieving
Okay, I’ll admit it: as a little girl, Cinderella was my absolute favorite Disney princess, so nostalgia clouds me whenever I think about this glorious movie. Even without my nostalgia lens though, her song is probably the best Pre-Renaissance princess song. “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes” is pretty and hopeful, and I love it so much.

While Cinderella’s song doesn’t specifically say what she wants, I think it’s pretty obvious that Cinderella’s major want is to get out of her situation, mainly. She does her work without complaint, but it’s clear she would really rather be elsewhere – and who wouldn’t want to be elsewhere if they were her? All she does all day is work. She barely has time for anything else. She cleans, cooks, takes care of the animals…the works, basically. She doesn’t even have time to make her own dress for the ball; the mice have to do it for her, because she’s drowning in chores. And when Cinderella gets that magical night out, she paves the way to getting exactly what she wants. She meets the prince, has a romantic night with him, the shoe fits when he finds her, and happily ever after ensues. Another princess want achieved.

cinderella happy ending

 

Aurora: I Wonder

sleeping beauty i wonder

Similar to Snow’s short song, Aurora has a tiny song of her own. It’s one I think we often forget about, since “Once Upon a Dream” is the more celebrated Sleeping Beauty song, but her “I Want” song, “I Wonder,” is very pretty and heartfelt. Just look at these pretty lyrics:

I wonder, I wonder
If my heart keeps singing
Will my song go winging
To someone who’ll find me
And bring back a love song to me?

Can’t you feel the longing? Like Snow, Aurora wants somebody to love. She wants someone to sing a love song to her, and viola, in the next scene, Prince Phillip appears, and they have that adorable romantic moment when they sing “Once Upon a Dream”.

sleeping beauty once upon a dream

In a twist of irony, Aurora is horrified when she later finds out she’s betrothed (not realizing it’s to Phillip, of course) and she’s sad, because she’s worried she’ll lose out on a chance at love with him.

sleeping beauty sad aurora

But despite the mishaps and problems along the way, at the end of the day, Prince Phillip’s the one to wake her with his kiss, and Aurora gets her wish: her prince to sing love songs with forevermore.
One more princess wish accomplished.

 

Disney Renaissance Princesses
Ah, the Disney Renaissance: a time of glory, gorgeous movies, and the best musical numbers in history (in my opinion, anyway). The Disney Renaissance Princesses are some of my absolute favorites, and I’m really excited to talk about them and their songs. For now though, I’ll be handling two of them: Ariel and Belle. You’ll have to come back for the rest next Tuesday. 😉

 

Ariel: Part of Your World

little mermaid 3
Okay, Part of Your World might actually be my favorite “I Want” song of them all. Ariel gets so much undeserving flack, which she shouldn’t, but you can’t deny that her song is amazing.

Ariel’s song is all about adventure; she’s the first adventurous princess, actually, and in “Part of Your World”, she talks about her desire to travel to the human world and explore. People tend to misconstrue Ariel’s desire to go on land as being about Eric, but if you look at the song, it’s really not. It’s about her wanting to experience the things others don’t, and get the freedom she feels she’s lacking under the sea.

The proof is in the lyrics:
Up where they walk, up where they run
Up where they stay all day in the sun
Wanderin’ free – wish I could be
Part of that world

What would I give if I could live out of these waters?
What would I pay to spend a day warm on the sand?

Ariel’s all about adventure and exploring. Love only factors into her deal to stay human, and what’s so awesome to me about Ariel’s tale is that she gets all three of the core wants I mentioned:
1) She gets the adventure she craves on Earth.
2) She gets love in the form of Eric.
3) She gains acceptance from her father, and they finally learn to understand each other a little more.
For that reason, Ariel is probably one of the luckier Disney princesses endings-wise. She gets everything she wanted and more. Pretty awesome, huh?

Finally (for now, anyway), let’s move onto the Disney Princess that is pretty much me: Belle.

 

Belle: Belle (Reprise)

beauty and the beast belle

Belle’s case is really interesting when it comes to her “I Want” song. Unlike most of the princesses, Belle’s “I Want” song is actually a reprise. When you look at the songs, you would think that “Belle” would be her song, considering that it’s her name and all. But in an interesting twist, “Belle,” while it is about our heroine, is actually about how everyone else views Belle and what they want. We get a little bit of Belle in the song, and we get a hint of her wants (“There must be more than this provincial life!”). However, we don’t really dig deep into that. “Belle” is mostly spent with the townspeople musing about Belle’s strangeness, and Gaston musing about how he wants to marry Belle.

beauty and the beast there must be more

And as we find out in the “Belle Reprise”, Belle is not too keen on Gaston’s plans for the future:
“Madame Gaston!”
Can’t you just see it?
“Madame Gaston!”
His “little wife”
No sir! Not me!
I guarantee it
I want much more than this provincial life

Here we bridge into the unique musical twist that Beauty and the Beast provides: Belle’s song is actually the “Belle Reprise.” That’s right, Belle’s “I Want” song is the reprise of the song all about her. Pretty cool twist, huh? And what does Belle want? Well, we find out, when she mentions that awesome line that defines pretty much every Disney Renaissance Princess:

I want adventure in the great wide somewhere,
I want much more than I can bear

beauty and the beast belle reprise

Belle wants adventure. She wants to see the world and get out of the tiny, judgmental little town she lives in. She wants much more than anyone in this town has planned for her, because she knows that she’s worth more. And although she doesn’t get it in the way she expected, Belle gets that adventure when she goes to find her father and meets the Beast. She also finds unexpected love with him.

Alas, unlike Ariel, Belle doesn’t get acceptance from the town, but honestly, she doesn’t really need it. Plus, she has it from the people who really matter: her father, the Beast, and her new friends. She’s also got a handsome prince, the adventure she wanted, and a pretty sweet library. I’d be cool with that deal too if I was her.

beauty and the beast belle's library

Sources:
“I Want” Song. (n.d.). Retrieved December 8, 2014, from TV Tropes: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/IWantSong
Disney Lyrics. (n.d.). Retrieved December 8, 2014, from ST Lyrics: http://www.stlyrics.com/songs/d/disney6472.html

Alright, next week we’ll talk about the rest of the Renaissance Princesses and talk the Post-Renaissance Princesses as well! I’m curious to know: who is your favorite Disney princess, and what is your favorite “I Want” song? Let us know in the comments!

Have a happy Tuesday!

Cheers,
-M&M