As with any film, Disney’s Princess movies reflect the values of the society that made them. The princesses of the classic generation are domestic goddesses, perfect examples of ladylike behavior. They are always dreaming and optimistic. The princesses of the ’90s are curious and adventurous. They don’t fit in their society, and so they branch out, seeking a place in which they do belong. The current generation of princesses are independent. This independence can make them rebellious, and it means that they are willing to work hard to achieve their goals. All of these women have valuable qualities that young girls should emulate. No, they are not perfect: show me a story with a perfect hero or heroine and I will show you a boring story. Our flaws as well as our weaknesses make us interesting and define who we are.
Earlier this week, I began my defense of the Disney Princesses with the classic generation: Snow White, Cinderella, and Aurora (Sleeping Beauty). You can read that article here. In part II, I will focus on the ’90s princesses: Ariel (who is technically 1989), Belle, Jasmine, Pocahontas, and Mulan. In the ’90s, the princesses begin to be independent. Rather than being orphaned or separated from their parents, these five princesses love their fathers (only Mulan seems to have a mother). Even so, they are willing to leave their families in order to grow up. Continue reading
I have seen an increasing level of distaste for the Disney Princesses–many look at the princesses and say that they teach girls that physical beauty is the only thing that matters and that women have no power at their disposal outside their sexuality. I would like to argue. Despite the fact that most of these films are based on stories by the Grimm brothers (who did not seem to have a high opinion of women, primarily because of the view of women in their time), Disney managed to give their princesses varied personalities. Many of the princesses were strong characters who overcame adversity. Disney walked a very thin line of staying true to the stories while giving the princesses character and strength.
The Classic Princesses (Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora)
The criticisms against these three princesses are valid, in some ways. Snow White, Cinderella, and Aurora do spend their days dreaming that a prince will someday come and carry them away from their lives. However, in the mid-1900s, that was the norm. It was expected for girls to grow up fantasizing about their weddings. Isn’t that the case even now? I know that my friends don’t believe me when I tell them that my wedding hasn’t been planned since I was five, not do I currently have a dream wedding envisioned. If that is the thought now, how much stronger was it in the 19030s and ’50s? Continue reading
After RJ and I finished Jane Eyre, I decided to watch the movie that recently came onto DVD. As with most movies-based-on-novels, it wasn’t as good as Brontë’s classic. However, I believe that there are legitimate reasons for this. It is, in my opinion, impossible to condense a thirty-eight-chapter novel into two hours of cinematic experience without losing something. If they were to stay true to the book, the film would take far more than one hundred and twenty minutes.
What suffered the most was the dynamic between Jane and Edward. Scenes of the main couple interacted are the obvious things to cut, since there are so many of them. However, if I hadn’t read the novel, I’m not sure I would have been as fond of the two of them as a couple as I am. Granted, the makers of the film probably assume that most viewers will be familiar with the novel, since a) it is something that every high school student (except, apparently, me) is required to read; and b) why would you be interested in the movie if you were uninterested in the novel? So it makes sense to take for granted the relationship between the two main characters. The interaction that was portrayed was very strong. I am not a crier at movies, but when Jane pulled away from Edward after she learned of Bertha, my eyes were a bit watery. It was a very powerful scene.
They cut out the revelation that Jane and the Rivers were cousins, which was, I suppose, due to modern sensibilities about cousin marriage, since St. John proposes to Jane. That wasn’t really an issue at that time. While I do understand the reasoning, I thought it an important plot point that Jane finally finds family.
Adele wasn’t exactly as I pictured her (I pictured her as a younger, Frencher Georgiana Darcy of the 2005 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice), but she was still adorable. Bertha was as eerie as promised (though I’m not certain the vampire rumors were necessary).
At the end of the film, I was satisfied. The writers managed a much more successful conclusion than Brontë had (read RJ’s last post for more on that subject), and the story ended happily, not perfectly (perfect endings leave a bad taste in my mouth). I would suggest this film, even for lovers of the novel.