Mental Health Awareness Month: How “Frozen” Thaws Fearful Hearts

When reflecting upon the cinema that we consumed as children, we often remember most fondly the tales that excited us, humoured us, or maybe even frightened us. For many, regardless of generation, Disney has been a big contributor to such memories. But the best children’s tales contain valuable messages, or even truths, in their stories. Although I was a teenager in his last year of high school when Disney’s “Frozen” (2013) was released, it is a film that I believe will allow children and adults alike to recognise and understand lessons in mental health for generations to come. Continue reading Mental Health Awareness Month: How “Frozen” Thaws Fearful Hearts

Sinister Stepmothers and Ex-Wives – Why can’t Disney give them surrogate mothers a break?

Had enough of princesses? Us too. Thing is, for just shy of a century Western animation has been littered with naïve views on female protagonists, in no small part down to the Walt Disney Company. While their heroines are far from the two-dimensional stereotypes many preach, there is one collective which dive deeper into culture, our psyche, and on occasion, history. These are of course the Disney villains.

A dynamic which stretches across the fifty-eight animated library more often than other narratives is of the wicked stepmothers or different forms of antagonistic surrogate parent. These are the films where the protagonist’s primary caregiver or secondary characters are also villains. Whether the archetypical Lady Tremaine from ’Cinderella’ (1950) or the ex-wife Ursula from ‘The Little Mermaid’ (1989) or redemptive Dr Robert Callaghan ‘Big Hero 6’ (2014). Continue reading Sinister Stepmothers and Ex-Wives – Why can’t Disney give them surrogate mothers a break?

Animated April: Spotlight on Princess Anna from “Frozen”

When Disney’s “Frozen” came out in 2013, it truly seemed like a cultural reset. Disney parks were flooded with little girls in Elsa dresses and you couldn’t escape hearing Idina Menzel singing “Let It Go” even if you wanted to. While Brenda Chapman had directed “Brave” the year before, “Frozen” marked the first time that a Walt Disney Animation Studios film was directed by a woman. Jennifer Lee also wrote the script, along with co-directing, and it seems fitting that a film so focused on the love between two sisters would be the first at the studio to have a female director.

However, while the character of Elsa got all the glory, her younger sister Princess Anna has been majorly overlooked. Voiced by the talented and sunshine-y Kristen Bell, Anna has a character arc just as touching as Elsa’s throughout “Frozen” and its sequel “Frozen II” (2019).  Continue reading Animated April: Spotlight on Princess Anna from “Frozen”

Animated April: Spotlight on Merida from “Brave”

Merida from Pixar’s “Brave” (2012) is perhaps one of Disney’s most overlooked princess. Which is strange considering she’s one of the best role models and her existence is one of the biggest milestone achievements of the whole group. “Brave” is set in the Scottish Highlands and follows a young princess who would rather practice her archery than listen to her mother’s lessons. She defies their customs and refuses a betrothal, leading her to make a deal with a witch to change her mother. But when her mother is actually changed into a bear, she sets about reversing the spell and fixing their strained relationship. Merida is voiced by Kelly Macdonald, while Queen Elinor is voiced by Emma Thompson. Continue reading Animated April: Spotlight on Merida from “Brave”

Animated April: The Princess and The Frog

There’s something really comforting in the traditional hand-drawn animation style that Disney introduced us to. With the difference in styles now and the obvious technological element, it’s good to reflect on a movie that utilizes and excels with that look and feel but is in the 21st century. I’m referring to the 2009 “The Princess and The Frog.” Continue reading Animated April: The Princess and The Frog