What do Maleficent and Frozen have in common, other than the fact that both are Disney movies from 2014?
(Spoilers ahead, please do not read on if you’ve yet to watch either. You’ve been warned.)
True love’s kiss was not from a man or a significant other,
but from a female role, a sister or an unlikely mother.
Or at least that was what I gathered from both movies, and that was the underlying reason why I loved it so much.
When you think of older Disney movies, have a think about how realistic is it for two people to fall in love in a matter of days, or even just 24 hours. Just like Romeo and Juliet, apparently one of the most tragic love stories of all, infatuation and lust do not true love make. The fact that I grew up with these idealizations (I’m 27 this year), did not bode well for me. When I was a kid and all through my adolescent years, I thought love would be simple – that I would lock eyes with a boy, we’d fall in love, and the rest would be history. As I’d learnt from Disney movies (all of which I so loved and admired, especially The Little Mermaid, Dumbo and Beauty & The Beast), sure there might be downs and lows, but once that’s done and over with, your beloved and you are to live happily ever after.
As adulthood and experience has taught me, that was not the truth. No one is going to lock eyes with you and imprint (taking the term from Twilight, which I find extremely appropriate to describe this concept) on you, and then love you and want to be with you for the rest of your life. More often than not, it ends up being lush or crush at first sight, and more often that not (sadly), the feelings are not mutual. Life isn’t a pre-2000 Disney movie, and true love does not exist the way you’ve been conditioned to think it does. Relationships are fraught with challenges, and it is but a daily commitment to choose your other half, your friend, or your family, and to dedicate yourself to love.
Frozen and Maleficent very clearly disowned the idea of love at first sight, as well as having true love’s kiss come from a man, or the opposite sex, or someone you are interested in as a significant other. Just as you think the story comes to the same conclusion all Disney movies do – the prince comes along and lands a lovely kiss on the lips of the fair maiden – that notion is quickly dismissed when you realize that that is not the salvation that she needs. The love between sisters, or some form of family, is something that surpasses distance, emotional fragility and misunderstandings, trumping coupledom. Shouldn’t this have been the case all along, Disney? As such a huge media conglomerate, shouldn’t you have taken earlier measures to teach Gen-Ys like me that a man is not my salvation? I’m not too sure if its too little too late, but I’m sure plenty of ladies have had their hearts and dreams shattered when they realized that life is not a fairytale romance.
Another interesting thought that was planted into my head by these two movies was the re-definition of the female villain – in these cases, Maleficent and Elsa. Both having caused the severe destruction to their communities / world around them, the audience is still left rooting for them, with moments of humanity and positivity shining through. It is only human to err, and rather than keep to the unrealistic “100% evil” roles that have taken form in past Disney movies (think Cruella deVil and Ursula), the new Disney woman (or protagonist) is flawed, with both positive and negative characteristics, just like any other one of us. This makes them both realistic and relatable, and you’re left with a sense that there’s good in all of us, even if you go down the wrong path every now and then – much better, no?
This just scratches the iceberg of this topic, and whether you might agree with me or not, it is pretty obvious the changes Disney women are going through. If you’re interested in such plot lines, I would suggest catching “Once Upon a Time”, where the lead protagonist of the show is a female and equally as flawed as any one of us. I can’t wait to see where this leads our new generation of Disney women, who are no longer princesses, but women role models in their own right. What will their impact be on the young girls and women of today?