Disney films have always made it their top priority to generate characters in which children of that era could connect to. Many argue that over the course of time Disney has changed, but animators might counter that so have the people.
Back in the 1930’s when Disney’s first princess movie was being produced, they wanted a princess that young girls could admire and direct their aspirations toward. Snow White’s character and general mannerisms were based upon young Marge Champion, a 14-year old dancer. With illustrators and easels positioned around her she would act out scenes for the film as the cartoonist brought the princess to life.
Snow White was the original damsel-in-distress, a princess who needs the kiss of a prince to save her. This theme carried on into a future princess film; Sleeping Beauty, which again featured a helpless girl who falls prey to an evil witch’s trap and waits to be rescued by her love.
In the first few Disney princess films, the girls fall in love with the prince upon first sight- however, in later movies the leading ladies begin to strut their independence.
In a time when women began to stand on the same level as men in society, the films’ princesses began to rebel from their pre-planned lives and face their own battles. In the early 90’s these damsels developed into social outcasts that yearned for a new life. Finding that life alongside their prince charming. Ariel, Jasmine, and Belle began this new generation, with their desire for a life on land, adventure, and freedom from her castle’s walls fueling the stories respectively.
Now in the 21st century, after a long break from princess movies, Disney began once again adding to their collection by releasing The Princess and the Frog and Tangled. These two animations broke the damsel-in-distress status quo and starred charismatic ladies who chased their dreams, stumbling upon love along the way.
Back in the 1930’s, young girls dreamed of being rescued by Prince Charming, but today, though they still yearn for their princes, enjoy watching dream-chasers and star-reachers.
This coming summer Disney is releasing their newest addition to their family, a movie called Brave. The film is about a competition held in Ireland, where competitors fight for the princess’ hand in marriage. Had this film been done in the 1930’s, the princess would watch and wait for her prince. However, as a 21st movie produced in 2012, the princess will enter the battle for her own hand– not wanting to enter an arranged marriage.
Disney evolved alongside today’s youth. For with every generation comes a new princess who little girls can aspire to be.