We all grow up watching Disney films, whether you like to admit it or not. Some films were great, some were quite awful. However, it’s the masterpieces what Disney is remembered for.
After the plummeting popularity of The Little Mermaid, Disney kept making one great film after another, establishing the era known as the Disney renaissance.
Among their most beloved works are their fairy-tale adaptations. That’s where the Disney magic truly shines. Disney’s interpretations of fairy-tales have become so successful that people now immediately associate Disney with fairy-tales like Snow White and Cinderella.
Despite how you feel about the way Disney interpret fairy-tales, you can’t help but admire the work and the passion that’s put into these films. Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is a prime example of a fairy-tale adaptation done right. To this day, it’s my personal favorite of theirs.
What went wrong?
Disney knew how to create great fairy-tales, but why is that they don’t do it as well as they used to? What happened to their successful formula? Of course, I’m referring to the latest additions to their fairy-tale collection, The Princess and the Frog and Rapunzel… sorry, I mean Tangled.
Now don’t get me wrong, both of these movies are great, they are very well made. Their characters are some of Disney’s best, especially the new princesses, Tiana and Rapunzel. But I think the majority can agree that they didn’t leave the lasting impact that its predecessors such as Cinderella and Snow White left on their audience.
In my opinion, both movies suffered similar problems in terms of why they failed to capture audiences. You guessed it! It’s the story. While the stories are good, the problem is being formulaic. Disney was trying to create a love story that as believable as the one in Beauty and the Beast. As in making the characters spend a bit more time than a few seconds before they fall in love.
Believe it or not, their attempt to establish a “believable” love story is one of the reasons that made the overall story of the films weaker. I am not against believable stories, in fact, this is the kind of update all modern fairy-tale adaptations should have. However, it’s not about them using that aspect, but rather about how they use it which, in this case, was sadly predictable.
“What’s the easiest way to make two characters fall in love in a film (and make it believable)? Why, let them have an adventure, of course!”
In both Tangled and Princess and the Frog, the adventure aspect takes a huge chunk of the movie, making the climax pretty much predictable. For example, Tiana and the prince need to transform from their frog form into humans once again, so they go searching for the witch. Rapunzel wants to see the lanterns so she forces Flinn to help her get there. Both parties get chased by bad guys, and by the time they get what they want, they fall in love, after spending two days together. You can’t help but notice the similarities there.
Besides the love aspect, Princess and the Frog had the problem of trying too hard. They were really trying to create another masterpiece that they included everything they could think of that made their previous work successful. I really think the filmmakers didn’t need to turn Tiana into a frog, for example. The first half should’ve been what the teaser trailer implied. That would’ve been awesome.
As for Tangled, it was a bit of a sad story because it could have matched the level of a Disney classic. The filmmakers just chose not to let that happen. Why? Because apparently, no one likes 2-D animation anymore. After the supposed failure of The Princess and the Frog, Disney decided to make last minute changes to their next project Rapunzel. Making it into 3-D and simply changing the title.
These changes have made it more about the money and less about the magic. The falling in love/adventure aspect I talked about earlier is much more obvious in this movie than it is in The Princess and the Frog. As soon as they get out of the tower, the story becomes predictable. Adventure, singing and dancing, falling in love, lover dies then comes back to life, all these Disney clichés you’ve seen a thousand times. Again, the movie was commendable, but it lacks the genuineness that you see in its predecessors.
In short, Princess and the Frog tried too hard. Tangled chose to not try hard enough.
Despite this, there is hope that Disney will go back to its roots, hopefully with The Snow Queen, one of my favorite fairy-tales which is set to release in 2013, titled Frozen. I just hope fairy-tales’ original titles being changed to one-word titles doesn’t become a trend. So what’s next? Forest instead of Little Red Riding Hood?
Also, it will be a CGI-animated film! Sigh. I think I’ll stick with reading the fairy-tales instead. Or at least till 2-D comes back.