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New Escapist Column! On the Quiet Revolution of Disney’s Modern Princess Movies…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the release of Encanto this weekend, it seemed like a good opportunity to talk about the animated “princess” movies being produced by Disney.

Disney has always been associated with these movies, dating back to the breakout success of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. However, the company has also long had a complicated relationship to them, and in particular the way in which they are perceived as movies aimed at young girls. However, the past decade has seen the studio clever and consistently reinventing this archetypal “fairy tale” sort of story for the twenty-first century, to the point that it’s arguably that the run of movies from Tangled onwards has been the most consistent of the studio’s output.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

Non-Review Review: Moana

Moana is a fantastic demonstration of the timeless appeal of the long-standing Disney formula.

At first glance, Moana seems very much like an archetypal animated Disney film. It is the story of a young woman who is forced to adventure outside of her comfort zone, surrounded by adorable animal sidekicks and trickster mentors on an archetypal hero’s journey that is set to a toe-tapping soundtrack. It is a template that has served Disney very well, producing any number of beloved family classics over the year. Moana is very much a celebration of that template, and an example of why it works so well.

Islands in the Pacific... That is what we are...

Islands in the Pacific…
That is what we are…

At the same time, there is a faint layer of self-awareness to the script that serves it well. Moana might appear to be an archetypal Disney fairytale story, but that is largely down to its central character. Moana is a celebration of its title character, to the point that it frequently seems like she is propping up the narrative. This is not to suggest that Moana is a deconstruction or subversion in anyway. Instead, the movie almost as a distillation of the appeal of the classic “princess” narrative. It is a story that trusts its lead character to hold a disorganised story together.

Surrounded by dysfunction and chaos, Moana is an affectionate tribute to these sorts of stories.

Good (demi-)god, man!

Good (demi-)god, man!

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