So as I was saying ….
4. Beauty and the Beast.
In this tale of Beauty and the Beast , the narrative deviates from the usual damsel in distress stereotype since Beauty in effect tames the Beast and that distances her from the women who need rescuing from heroes. Belle is actually one of the foremost independent, wilful and resourceful Disney characters. Notice that she is not a princess – she comes from a working class background. Sometimes I feel this is one reason for the universal appeal of this story and as it is so adaptable to numerous situations , it has spawned into other manisfestations in several guises.
- Think Lolita and Humbert Humbert.
- Think Bella and Edward Cullen in Twilight.
- Think Phantom of the Opera and Christine Daae.
Within the exhibition, it was interesting to note the designs the artists originally created to portray the Beast. The first resembled a wildebeest/warthog/swine-like combination or a bigger, nastier looking version of Pumbaa from The Lion King. It had protrudring tusks and long teeth with furrowed bases. Even I felt inclined to agree when my friend commented, “Kids wouldn’t have liked that one. He’s too ugly looking. ”
The second illustration was based on an orangutan and possessed distinctive simian features. But the monkey like appearance made it difficult to conceive the creature in a non-humorous, brooding aspect. It just felt too much like he should have belonged in the accumulations of Dr. Doolittle.
The third beast was the one they went with. He was actually an assortment of animals but the big mane of hair, in my view, gives him a lion-like aspect. All the designs however had stuck to the ponytail with the bow. The fact he looks like a big cat with soft, haunting eyes I feel contributes to make him an appealing beast.
6. The Little Mermaid
The Little Mermaid, another perennial favourite of many, was in the adjacent exhibit. A video installation consisting of the scene where Ursula forces to Ariel to sign a contract which states she will exchange her melodious voice for the ability to be human played interchanging with the tunnel scene where human Ariel and Prince Eric enjoyed their boat ride to the accompaniment of Kiss the Girl by Peter Andre.
The artist who designed Ariel’s hair which moved and flowed along with her in the water modeled it on the view of a female astronaut’s hair in space.
7. The Princess and The Frog
This was a fim that was mired in controversy as soon as Disney thought it would be nice to have an African-American princess. Even though it bears little relation to the princess who lost her golden ball in the original story, it is an interesting take on an old classic. Then there’s the issue of Tiana tying the knot with Latin American prince Naveen and the outcry about her not doing so with someone of the same race.
But then if you consider the union in the Little Mermaid , Prince Eric was a far cry away from Ariel’s species! So I fail to understand what this hullaballoo regarding interracial marriage is about …
The artwork of New Orleans and Louisiana bayou is beautifully done and the vibrant colours have a decidedly different aesthetic from other Disney films. Perhaps it is a result of the new territory they explore with this feature.
I cannot pass any judgement on the film’s merit as it is not yet released but I have heard awestruck exclamations about the painstaking artwork required Rapunzel’s 3D hair for which they assigned an artist singularly responsible for that particular part of her anatomy. Her hair movement was based on the gliding mechanism of a slithering snake which seems to have made it easier for looping, coiling and tying actions.
It was with delight I noted her rescue in Tangled would steer away from the tried and tested forms by Disney. The hero Flynn seems to possess a lot of the features of John Smith from Pocohontas although he’s a brunette rather than a blonde. It is probably for the best since who would want to compete with Rapunzel’s locks?
By its conclusion, I realised strangely a lot of my favourite members of the Disney canon were missing. Esmeralda, Mulan, Pocohontas – these ladies did not make an appearance which was disappointing. Is it something to do with race? One is most likely Eastern European since she is a Gypsy, the next is from the Far East and from an oriental background while the last is a Native American.
Nevertheless for an exhibition titled Dreams Come True, it did a unique job of transporting me into Disney’s classic art.