As it happens, there are a LOT of Disney films out there, and I just so happen to LOVE a lot of them. I couldn’t possibly leave it at The Hunchback of Notre Dame could I?
If you’re late to the party (get a drink and settle down, we’ve already started)you can read part one here: http://alysinunderland.wordpress.com/2014/02/21/what-disney-taught-me/
And I can’t start this off without mentioning Sulev Daekazu from Deviantart who has done all of the artwork in this post! Go check him out here: http://daekazu.deviantart.com/
And now let’s crack on with the show shall we?
Hercules is such a good film for teaching children about making mistakes. Hercules makes a lot of mistakes at the start of the film because he is unable to control his own strength, and people forgive him for it. Meg also makes mistakes, even before we meet her. She fell in love with the wrong guy, rescued him and was enslaved for her troubles. But despite the fact that they make wrong choices and make mistakes, things all turned out alright for them in the end. (It didn’t hurt that Meg had a god for a boyfriend, if he’d been a mere mortal then they wouldn’t both have survived the lake of souls in the underworld)
But I think it’s a valuable lesson for children, that making mistakes is okay, so long as you intentions are good and you have the means to rectify the mistakes that you do make. Also, Meg is a pretty good role model for young girls because she just gets on with her life and she doesn’t rely on any man really. Yes she is enslaved to Hades, and yes she does fall in love with Hercules, but the point of it is that she is her own woman. Neither of those men OWN her.
Mulan is another great one for teaching girls not to see themselves as objects or as being subordinate to men. (and vice versa) It’s a film of equal opportunities, even though the girl has to fight for her equality. I think that I liked this one so much because at the start of the film Mulan is trying hard to fit in and do what is expected of her, but she is the only one that can save her father when it comes to it, because she is the only one that would think to do what she does. She’s extraordinarily brave and she saves more than one man in the film.
I love that at the end of the film she gains the respect of the Emperor, and that it is public aswell, if it had just been in private and she’d gone back home afterwards it wouldn’t have been so good. I especially love that Shang is so nervous around her and her father at the end of the film, because it’s realistic. Or at least more realistic than him knowing exactly what to say and do and when to say and do it, like all of the other Disney guys. (With some exceptions).
I have to start this by saying that Tarzan is my FAVOURITE Disney film in the history and present of Disney films. I have been in love with Tarzan since I was five, and I think I’ve kind of always wanted to be Jane. Tarzan is one of the only Disney films where the soundtrack is not simply sung by the characters, and I think that’s a good thing, it would have detracted from the danger and beauty of the story if it had been like the other Disney films in that respect. It teaches us that a mother’s love is the strongest, but that it doesn’t matter who your mother is. Tarzan’s first mother his human mother, protected him as well as she could and I like to imagine that it was because of her and his father, that Tarzan survived. Kala, the mother that cared for him for his entire life fought to protect him from harm, and from her own family. And I think that is one of the most touching aspects of the film.
One of the best bits about the film is that both Jane and Tarzan are equals, and that although they are knowledgable in different things, they are equally as intelligent and curious about the world. Jane’s father is a scientist, which affords her some more freedom than the other women in her situation in London, for example, she has the opportunity to travel to the jungle where Tarzan lives. Tarzan is also curious and they work together and they work HARD to teach each other about their worlds. I particularly like that Jane and her father stay in the jungle at the end of the film because it worked out pretty well for all concerned. Can you imagine if it had ended up like they had planned and Tarzan had gone to England? That would have been horrible. So Jane gets to spend the rest of her life with Tarzan studying the gorillas and the other animals, and her father gets to study them too. Tarzan gets to spend the rest of his life with Jane, without having to conform to the modern world of Victorian London.
I basically just love this film so much that I have never found anything about it that I don’t like. Except for Clayton, but we’re not MEANT to like him.
The Princess and the Frog (2009)
This film teaches us the value of hard work, although I’m not sure whether it succeeds or not. There’re actually quite a few negatives about this film that nobody seems to have noticed. The main one that I have a problem with is that Tiana works so hard for all of her life so that she can buy the restaurant that she wants, but then she loses it to someone who has more money than her. She doesn’t give up, which is a good thing to teach children, but then what happens is all the madness of the magic and the frog and the prince and whatnot, and at the end of the film it’s never mentioned how she actually manages to buy the restaurant. It’s sort of just brushed under the carpet, but if you think about it, Naveen probably bought it for her, which doesn’t really support the moral of working hard for what you want. It sends quite a bad message really, that working hard isn’t as important as marrying a rich man and getting him to buy everything that you want. Which is not what they were trying to get across.
But it’s not all negative, the music in this is fantastic, and I love that it’s set in New Orleans. I’m not sure why I prefer New Orleans to other settings, such as France or wherever, but it seemed more modern and vibrant than some of the other Disney princess sort of films, which I liked. It wasn’t set so far into the past that it wasn’t realistic or relate-able and I suppose that I just liked that about it. I can’t talk about The Princess and The Frog without mentioning that Tiana is black. She’s actually not that big of a deal when you consider that most of Disney’s princess aren’t actually white Caucasian, but she was still the first one and that’s a step in the right direction. I thought that the film dealt with the facts of segregation and servitude really delicately; letting children know about it without shoving it down their throats. I think this film really allowed children to make up their own minds about things, which was nice. And the fact that Tiana wasn’t one to settle for all of that flirtatious nonsense that Naveen tried out was a good thing to be teaching children. The two main characters were equals because they balanced each other out. Tiana needed to learn to relax, and Naveen needed to learn how to be more serious about certain things.
I can’t lie, ever since this film came out I have LOVED it. There has been many a time when my friend Rosie and I have listened to the soundtrack whilst doing our coursework at college. I think one of the main messages of the film is that you can love someone, even when they aren’t good for you. Rapunzel does love Gothel, as we can see when she leaves the tower with Flynn and is besieged with doubt. I think it’s good to teach children about that time in their life when they’re going to be moving away from the influence of their parents, because it’s going to happen sooner or later and it’s important that they’re prepared for it. (Not that I’m saying that ALL parents are like Mother Gothel!)
Again, Rapunzel is a princess that actually gets off her butt and goes and finds adventures for herself, putting her in the same boat as Jasmine and others. I respect that, but I also like that she was apprehensive about it because again, it’s realistic and we need to teach children that change can sometimes be scary, but that it pays off in the end. It doesn’t hurt that Flynn Rider (Eugene) would be ridiculously attractive if he were real! But in terms of what that teaches children Flynn teaches us that we can all change, and that we all deserve second chances. I mean, it’s not a good thing that he’s a thief and that he never actually has to suffer the consequences of that, but it teaches children that they can change if they make mistakes. I think that’s something that a lot of children actually struggle with, once they’ve made a mistake a few times, they struggle to accept it for themselves.
I’m not so keen on the end though. When she is reunited with her birth parents it’s all kind of like it’s supposed to be a happy ending. But that doesn’t make much sense. Rapunzel has NEVER known her parents, and they have never known her, so how would that hug really be how they would react to it? I don’t know, having never been in that situation I wouldn’t know what would happen. Anyway, one of the best Disney films in my books.
I know that this is technically a Pixar production in conjunction with Disney, but I’m sticking it in here anyway. For some reason this one just doesn’t grab me as much as some of the other recent Disney films. I think that it may be because there is a lack of optimistic energy that other Disney films have, but that isn’t necessarily a negative thing. I think that the influence of Pixar has made this less airy fairy and a little more realistic and down to earth, even considering the will-o-the-wisps. However, I think that is perhaps the reason that it doesn’t grab you quite as much, especially for the younger children. This film would have to compete with the likes of ‘Tangled’, and although I think that the messages of this film are much better, it is Tangled that sticks in my memory and that I can sing along to when I watch it.
With that point made, I shall move on to what ‘Brave’ teaches us. It’s a lovely coming of age story that deals with the relationship between parents and their children. It’s great because it shows a realistic family relationship, and it teaches children not to simply obey their parents. I have always disliked that Disney films teach children to obey their parents without thinking for themselves, so YAY to Pixar for updating Disney’s ideas. That said, it does also teach us to respect our parents and listen to them, it advocates a democratic relationship where parents and children listen to each other. Which is another point, it teaches parents to LISTEN to their children. I know that in this day and age there aren’t so many queens and kings that have to deal with arranged marriages, but it can be applied to all different situations and I think it’s good that all of the parents in the film at some point are forced to actually listen to their children, because they eventually see that their children are not simply extensions of themselves.
I like that Merida has gumption, that she goes out and does the things that she wants to do; she learns how to fire a bow, she learns how to climb, she learns how to do all sorts of things. She has absolutely no reliance upon a man, other than her father, and I LOVE that there is no romantic love interest for her. The whole film is based upon her relationship with her family, mostly her mother. And that is something that no other Disney film has done. (Again, I think the credit probably goes to Pixar)
I just love this film, although I think it takes a few watches to really appreciate just how good it is, because as I said before, it isn’t as flashy and attention-grabbing as other Disney films. I’d put Merida up there with Jane and Mulan!
And finally we come to this lovely film. Over the last few years Disney has been trying to update it’s image and how it presents female characters. This is the latest instalment in that attempt. Anna and Elsa don’t rely on men throughout the film, except for when Anna asks for Kristoff’s help. Which is okay, because she doesn’t ask for it because she ‘likes’ him, she asks because she needs help, and he knows his way around the mountains. I think that the best thing about the film is the ending, so we’ll start with that. There’s no wedding! I know that there are other Disney films without weddings at the end, but for some reason it seems more noticeable in this one. One of the first things about the film is that Anna falls in ‘love’ with Hans, and when they ask for Elsa’s blessing she delivers this beauty; “you can’t marry a man you just met.” FINALLY! I mean come on Disney, have you never even considered that before now? In this film, the true romance is between Anna and Kristoff, but that develops over time and that’s sort of a first for a Disney princess. (Well, that’s not strictly true, almost every couple in this post was like that)
Nevertheless, I don’t think that the romantic aspects were the main point of this story, the love that it centres on is the love between the two sisters. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think that Elsa and Anna are the first Disney princesses to have a sibling that is important to the storyline. This film deals with more mature subjects than some of the others because it doesn’t take place in a magical kingdom, it just takes place in a normal world, in which one girl just happens to have strange powers. Alright there are trolls and blardyblahblah, but the rest of the film takes place in the real world. It deals with themes of loneliness, for both of the sisters, firstly after the accident that causes a rift between them, and then after their parents have died. One of my favourite parts of the film is when Elsa says hello to Anna at the ball and Anna isn’t sure at first whether she is talking to her. You get to see that both of the sisters are very alike, but that they have been forced to be apart for so long that they don’t really even realise it. I like that you get a sense of how desperate each of them are to be close again, but the agonising fear that this causes Elsa. I also enjoyed the faith that Anna put in Elsa, she knew that she wouldn’t hurt her when she went into the mountains to search for her, and although that didn’t exactly work out as planned, Elsa didn’t really intend to hurt her sister, and I’m not convinced that she even realised that she had done so.
The theme of sacrifice is also a strong one in the film. Both girls have to sacrifice something throughout the course of the film. When Elsa is still just a child, she sacrifices her relationship with Anna in order to keep her safe. Anna sacrifices her safety and standing in her own kingdom to help her sister and to stand by her. She almost sacrifices her life for Elsa. Elsa also tries to sacrifice her kingdom and life there in order to keep Anna and the people safe from her, but it doesn’t work until the end of the film. In short, the two sisters love each other so much that they are willing to sacrifice everything for each other and I think that it is a much more positive message to be sending young children, than the message that everything means nothing until you meet your one true love.
Right, I’ll stop rambling and let you enjoy the rest of your day,