Terry and I watched Malificent the other day, it was so much better than I expected and really got me thinking about the changes I’ve seen in Disney movies recently. Frozen had a strong female character with no significant other besides her (female) sibling, Malificent became a love story between a (jealous) parent figure and child, Big Hero 6 contained real consequences for characters who really did nothing wrong except being in the right place and the wrong time (mostly due to their big hearts and desire to help others), and Brave showed a girl fighting for her own right to not marry.
While I love the old school Disney, and I feel like characters like Belle, Jasmine, Pocahontas, and Mulan taught me valuable lessons about kindness, strength, beauty, mental toughness, and perseverance as a young girl, I really love this new trend. There is a humor in the most recent round of Disney movies that I wasn’t mature enough to see in the movies of my childhood. They seem geared more towards a general audience rather than a specific gender. Granted, there does seem to be a long way to go in the “general audience” direction with Frozen, Brave, and Malificent being princess movies and Big Hero 6 seemingly directed more towards young boys in advertisements, but these are movies for everyone to enjoy. My son is too young for Malificent, but my husband enjoyed it just as much as I did. There were excellent action sequences, a compelling story line and a real element of surprise for me at the end. Frozen and Brave have characters geared towards both boys and girls. My son is definitely the traditional vision of a rough-and-tumble boy and favored the characters of Sven and Olaf, but even at two he paid attention to the stories. When Kristoff and Elsa both took issue with marrying someone you met “you know…that day” I cheered. When Elsa was satisfied with herself as she was I cheered. When Hans was shown to be the awful villian and Kristoff and Anna developed their relationship with consent as a staple I cheered.
[Kristoff: I could kiss you! I could. I mean, I’d like to. I – may I? We me? I mean, may we? Wait, what? Anna: [kisses him on the cheek] We may.]
I’m looking forward to the next Frozen installment and watching movies that I missed, my younger cousins love Tangled the way I love Beauty and the Beast. It’s on my list.