This is kind of a random topic, but I LOVE Disney. I was just thinking about all the “princesses” over the years. I use quotations because some of them are not actually princesses. I just like how Disney is continually keeping up with the times with their princesses. By that I mean, the progression of female strength that grows with each one. I know most these movies are all based on stories and legends written and created by other people long ago, but Disney took these stories and butchered them into feel good family movies. I’m not saying that they were all very good, but for the most part they really know how to make a good family movie.
Starting with the very first, we have Snow White. She was scared into the woods by a hunter and then by trees. I must say, as a little girl the trees scared me too. But she then essentially becomes a maid to the seven dwarves, is tricked into eating an apple from a scary old lady and falls asleep. Her prince is not any more impressive either. He didn’t save her from the witch, the dwarves and the animals did. All he did was come in and kiss her and then carry her away on his horse. She wasn’t exactly a strong female role model, but I’m sure in 1937, this was well accepted.
Next was Cinderella. Released in 1950, was not that much more empowering to women. I think the only thing Cinderella did that could be seen as “wrong” is disguising herself to go to the ball against her step-mother’s wishes. I suppose that’s a step up from Snow White. Her prince charming also didn’t show much manliness either. This was released after the second world war and women were gaining rights, but still mostly homemakers.
After Cinderella was Sleeping Beauty. She was tricked into pricking her finger on a spinning wheel and slept for most of the movie. At least she wasn’t the maid. Her prince was the first to demonstrate some authority I think. He slayed the firebreathing dragon and rescued the princess. That’s pretty impressive if I do say so myself. This was released in 1959 and I can’t say I’m too familiar with the rights of women at that time or where the feminist movement was. (sorry…)
A long time after that, Walt Disney Pictures released the Little Mermaid in 1989. Ariel definitely had some guts. She was the princess of the Mermaid land but disobeyed her father at every turn. She collected “surface” items and ended up marrying a man. *gasp!* She was incredibly curious about things beyond her reach and took it upon herself to make things happen for her. You can really see how far the main Disney princesses came in just 30 years.
Shortly after that was Beauty and the Beast. This is a personal favourite. Belle was definitely a strong woman. She stood her ground against the advances of Gaston and fell in love with a Monster. She also sacrificed herself for her father and rescued him from the cold when he tried to rescue her back. She also tried to then stop Gaston from attacking the Beast. She is definitely a strong princess.
The year after, was Aladdin. Here Princess Jasmine pretty much sums herself up in one line: “I am not a prize to be won!”. Pocahontas and Mulan are also considered Disney Princesses, though not the main ones. They were equally as strong as women, one went to war and the other story was actually just butchered so I wont focus on those.
I’m watching Enchanted right now and I really enjoy the satire in it. It is quickly becoming a favourite movie of mine. The satire and the ending is actually very refreshing for a Disney Princess movie. She actually ends up with someone other than Prince Charming. All the little other disney references are also fun to notice. All in all, I think Enchanted is a great princess movie. I wonder what the next Disney Princess will be like…