Report of our EXpedition

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Princess and the Frog is something to dream about

With all of the negative and stereotypical entertainment available today, it's so refreshing to see something positive and uplifting on the screen. The Princess and the Frog may well be one of the best Disney films, in my opinion in many years. This film presents a lush landscape of colors and culture that draws in the audience into what I feel is a masterpiece of animation.

I'm glad that Disney has come back to its senses, and reopened its traditional (2D) animation division. As an animator, I feel that all forms of animation(traditional, 3D, stop motion, and others) need to be available as viable means of creativity for all artists and filmmakers. What this film does, is return to the grand themes and enchanting stories, which Disney has been historically known for.

The story begins in the childhood of Tiana, who with her best friend Charlotte, listen intently to the story of the Frog Prince, told by Tiana's mother Eudora. The story continues from there, as we see the happy family of Tiana, Eudora, and Tiana's hard working father James, share a meal with their entire community.

The story moves forward to Tiana's adulthood, where she is a hard working woman, striving to fulfill, her father's and her own dream of starting a restaurant. Without going too far into the plot, the film continues with the trials and tribulations of Tiana, a wayward prince, and a bevy of intriguing animals.

What makes me so happy about this film, is how loving, hardworking, diligent, and intelligent African Americans are portrayed in this film. Such examples as showing an African American man in James, who works two jobs, loves his African American wife, loves his daughter, and loves community. Another example is the adult Tiana, who like her father, works two jobs, saves her money, and has respect for herself. Now these examples may not mean a lot to some people, but compared to the thug/gangstas and low class hoochies that seem to be everywhere in mainstream music videos and films, these examples are milestones.

One final example that I find just as important, is the respect and attention to detail, of the African American culture that is presented in the film. From the roots of jazz, the exposition of voodou, to even showing bottles hanging from a tree. The film introduces a small bit of the richness that is African American culture.

For those who wish to avoid or boycott this film because of discrimination or racial slight, I saw very little to complain about. Some people reference that the Prince(Naveen) is not African American as an example. Naveen is portrayed as a person of color, with a Spanish accent and curly hair. There is no reference to his ethnic origin, and from my perspective, becomes a non-issue when weighed against the film as a whole. Another touchy subject has been about the use of voodou in this film. Voodou is a practice which originated from west and central Africa, which was brought to America, the Caribbean, and South America by the slave trade. Voodou is as much a part of the fabric and history of Louisiana as jazz, gumbo, and the bayou.

This film needs to be seen by all African American Kids, as well as all African American adults. Not just because Disney has finally created an African American princess, but because this film uplifts and becomes a role model for African Americans, that most mainstream entertainment should not and can't be. Along with African Americans, this film can be a great inspiration for all people to see.


Unknown said...

One of my friends from undergrad worked with Disney on the character on this one--- I'll be sure to share your glowing review with her. Merry Christmas!


After just having watched the animation and read your review, I can't help but be filled with hope and belief that the one who do good and work hard do achieve their dreams. James, you wrote so beautifully and clearly about the symbolism, culture and representation, which is not usually found in many films these days. I loved the twist on the story as it didn't play into the whole damsel in distress story and shows how empowered and determined Tiana was. All in all, I can't help but smile. This is definitely a movie for everyone to see. It's incredibly positive and uplifting and especially heart-warming in these times.

MVP Artist Management said...

Even though I have not seen the film I thought your article was very well written and I too am glad that "we" are depicted in a positive light and not the usual gansta or hoochie roles.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your insightful review. I have been wondering if this would be a film to allow my daughters to see, I have had some apprehensions about Disney in the past. I now look forward to seeing this film.