June 2, 2015

In the Defense of Kayley

Whitney: Okay, so Kayley isn’t *technically* a princess, but neither is Mulan and that didn’t stop us (or Disney). She doesn’t marry a prince or anything, but she still becomes something really cool--a knight! Just like her father. Kayley defies all social conventions of her time: she wears trousers, goes on quests, uses a sword, rides horses astride, etc.

Becky: Kayley is awesome. She has this honor and loyalty that most of the time we associate with the princes of fairytales. But she proves that valor knows no gender, and her awesomeness is just contagious. I mean, Gareth was a recluse and a cranky-pants before she came along, and look how he turned out!

Whitney: She’s brave, leaving her mother behind with a mad man to find someone to help them, being faced with griffons, dragons, and enchanted forests on the way, with an army of hybrid people-weapons following behind her.

June 1, 2015

In the Defense of Anastasia

Becky: Anastasia is my favorite non-Disney princess ever. I even lump this movie in with my Disney movies because it is that good. Anya is a tough girl, having been forced into a very tough upbringing thanks to Rasputin’s machinations and that whole revolution thing that got her family killed… But she yearns for a real home and a family, and nothing is going to sway her from that. She doesn’t want riches or fame or the big house on the hill, just a home and a family. Simple and sweet, despite her tough and prickly exterior.

Whitney: Who doesn’t like Anastasia? The music is amazing, the animation cool, storyline great, and Dimitri is probably the hottest animated guy out there. Anya isn’t going to get bossed around either. She’s full of sharp comments and witty comebacks when it comes to dealing with Dimitri. But she’s also kind and a little naive, which is what gets people to like her so easily, like Vlad and the children at the orphanage. 

Becky: And when Dmitri offers her a new chance at a life, she jumps at the chance. She doesn’t know it’s for the money, doesn’t care about the “grand duchess” status. She just wants answers and a family. When she finds out what the REAL objective was, she bails completely. And I love that.

Whitney: Anastasia wasn’t ever tempted by the station it would give or money or anything other than making an old woman happy and maybe finding a family who loves her. 

Becky: Also AMEN to him being the hottest animated man. I mean, come on, no contest. Give this gal a glass of ice cold water for that one.

Whitney: *throws glass of water on Becky*

May 29, 2015

In the Defense of Odette

Exciting bit of news! By the glories of modern technology, we were able to watch part of this movie together--from opposite sides of the country!

Whitney: We really need to talk about how dense Derek is when it comes to women and how awesome it is that Odette totally didn’t fall for it. But of course she wouldn’t, she was raised to be strong and independent. Yeah, she’s beautiful (as Derek stupidly pointed out while proposing. Seriously “What else is there?”), but she’s so much more. She doesn’t mind stating her opinion and keeping up with the boys. She’s a reader and intelligent. And she wants Derek to recognize that.

Becky: UGH. His “What else is there?” is the absolute WORST. I hated him for a long time after that. Looking back on it now, it was an interesting statement for the “handsome prince” to make. How often have we assumed that and made that assumption? “Love at first sight” and all. Now, these two had seen each other several times, but he never really saw her until suddenly she was pretty. And he was willing to throw everything in the past that he hated about her aside just because suddenly he was all “Ooh, look, pretty!”. Terrible. But a great statement to make, and for Odette to not stand for it was awesome. She forces him to look deeper if he really wants her. Derek is a moron.

Whitney: At least he realized how stupid he was soon after. And he was kind of put on the spot. I think it’s kind of obvious that Odette sees something in Derek--a kind of potential--or else why would she love him? 

Becky: Why else indeed… I think Derek sees something in Odette, and always has, but he was so focused on not liking her and being irritated by her that he never really thought about it. But then when she was suddenly appealing, he started paying more attention. And Odette always saw something special in Derek, but it was his resistance that fueled hers. She knows he can be a hero, but he’s always just been “the prince”. It’s his desire to be something for her, to find her, to see the “what else is there” that turns him into a hero. But why am I going on about him for? We’re defending Odette… She rocks. Doesn’t give in to the bad guy, continues to live with grace and hope, sees what’s beyond the surface, and is willing to sacrifice for what she loves. She’s tough, she’s smart, and yet she’s still soft and ethereal. Love it.

Whitney: And despite spending most of her time as a swan, Odette still works to get back to Derek, with the help of her animal friends. They find the map and work out a way to get Derek to the lake so he can see her change into her human form.

Becky: I love the whole sacrifice theme that comes into play at the end. They might have started off rocky, but these characters grew so much by the end. Derek was a real hero with a real heart, who finally saw the truth of Odette as she was. And she, of course, is just fantastic. It's a story of growing and faith and the sort of strength that endures for a lifetime. So good.

May 28, 2015

In the Defense of Thumbelina

Whitney: I love that these last two non-Disney princesses are not only princesses, but fairies! (Eventually . . . SPOILER!) Fairies are awesome. They are little and have shimmering wings! And they fly! Thumbelina has a big challenge to overcome--she’s a thumb-sized person in a normal sized person’s world. And though she loves her mother and the small farm they live in, she wishes that there was somebody like her. Don’t we all want someone who understands us?

Becky: I think that was something I loved the most. And her mother loved her exactly as she was.Whitney: When she meets Cornelius, she’s really happy, but then she has to go through several trials in order to get back to him. But it really could be that those experiences teach her more about how much she loves the prince. Just like we all need life experiences to teach us what it is we really want.

Becky: I really appreciated that they weren’t happily ever after right away. They had to fight to be together, going through so many things, and it only strengthened and deepened those feelings. Granted, they initially came on fast, but doesn’t that initial attraction come on fast? Love comes later, after you’ve been through things together and with time. And that’s what happened here. So I’m good with that.

Whitney: Sure, she gets a little distracted, but she doesn’t have very many experiences about the world, and we all make bad decisions or mistakes throughout our lives. The thing is that she learned from them, corrected them, and kept her eye on what she really wanted. 

But the best thing, I think, is what her mother cautions her (and what she learns): “Don’t ever wish to be anything than what you are.” And what a great reminder for all of us!

Becky: Amen!

May 27, 2015

In the Defense of Crysta

Whitney: Crysta is a curious, like Ariel, but unlike Ariel she has a wise person to help her understand the world beyond Ferngully. She wants to know more about the world that surrounds them, to better understand hers--she is perfectly happy living where she lives. I would say that her interest in Zak is more curiosity than anything else. She doesn’t just want to know about the human world, but to share about her world too. But, like all the other princesses we talked about, Crysta is kind and wants to help others, which is how she ends up with Zak in the first place. And let’s be honest, Zak is kind of a doofus anyway.

Becky: Zak is totally a doofus, but he has his uses. Crysta is a very Ariel-like character, and I think she might be just a little more naive. Not necessarily a bad thing in anyway, but it needs to be said. She is full of hope and good natured, and doesn’t know how to access the potential within her. I think that rings true for a lot of us.

Whitney: So true. Magi has been teaching her, but it isn’t until she needs to that she actually can use her magic to her full potential. And speaking of Magi. Another great thing is that a woman is the leader and wise person of the fairies. Magi is the person who knows about the humans and their world, she’s the one they turn to, and she’s teaching Crysta to become that leader. Though unsure if she can do it, Crysta finds the courage to protect her people and their home from the humans and from Hexxus.

May 26, 2015

In the Defense of Irene

Whitney: From the first time we see Irene in The Princess and the Goblin, we can see that she’s an independent, mischievous girl. But she’s young, and easily frightened. It isn’t that she depends on being saved, but that she knows she needs help sometimes. There is nothing wrong with needing help, as her great great grandmother tells her. And she didn’t even know about goblins or how to protect herself from them until Curdie told her.

Becky: I think Irene was pretty dang sheltered. Not in a bad way, necessarily, she just knew what she needed to, and didn’t know much else. She’s a curious girl, so she discovers some things on her own fairly quickly. And thanks to Curdie, she learns some fairly important things that she never would have otherwise. What I loved about Irene is that by the end of the film, she is courageous. I mean, absolutely fearless when it comes down to it. From being a naive, scared, skittish little girl who didn’t know what was out there, she became a strong heroine, well aware of the dangers in the world, and still forging into them, saving Curdie, facing goblins… She really grows a lot.

Whitney: I agree. I love stories when people save each other, which I think Irene and Curdie do. Curdie teaches Irene about goblins and how singing frightens them away and Irene uses the string to rescue Curdie. Being strong doesn’t mean you have to do everything on your own.

Becky: Plus this one has goblins. I mean, come on. That’s classic.

May 25, 2015

Exhibit B

We are back with our next round of princesses! The official Disney princesses aren’t the only princesses that we have as role models when it comes to animated movies. In fact, sometimes we forget that Disney doesn’t have a monopoly on princesses.

Our next set of princesses are those that we watched as children, but maybe haven’t come back to since we’ve grown. Or maybe you never saw them. However it is, these princesses still show kindness, gentleness, and courage. They all overcome something in the course of their story, and it’s not because a prince “saved them,” it’s because they were good enough that someone wanted to help them, and they worked hard enough that they could have made it without that help.