27 Feb 2010
The film was released here just after we left for our holiday and it had been out for so long in the US that it was no longer shown in most cinemas. So keen as were (me and Lady anyway!) to see this, we just had to wait until we got home again. So a few days ago we headed off the local cinema for a bit of old fashioned Disney animated goodness. Now I am aware that Disney films are not all peachy and contain heaps of patriarchy pushing and much outright racism but I like, even love most of them, flaws and all. OK so Ariel has some twisted ambitions, Cinderella is so wet and pathetic and Belle falls for a creature who locks up first her dad and then her and shouts and is cruel, but I'll overlook these things, they can happen to any of us.
As usual in the cinema I sat by Duncan. He took a while to get involved in the story but I fell for it right away. It looks beautiful and Tiana is such an engaging, feisty character. I didn't care much for the prince, even after he'd been improved (as is always the case in these films) by his association with our smart wee waiter woman. Having watched a few of the preview trailers last year (and following some of the controversy about how race was depicted in the film) I was dreading the appearance of the firefly Ray but he was lovely and his love of the star was sweet and his role at the movie's end really touching. The bad guy, who uses the spirits to advance himself and whom we know will meet a sticky end before the credits role, was well realised too, and the spirits were bloody spooky and menacing.
We all enjoyed it. I liked the music and Duncan definitely favoured Ray. So much so that when an unfortunate event occurs near the end, he was really saddened and even angered and said very loudly, "Where is Ray?" He was properly concerned. I tried to comfort him with some theory or other about where Ray had gone but he saw right through me. Then he declared, "Ray is not a star, get Ray back NOW!" Thankfully the cinema was almost empty, but even if it hadn't been, I hardy think his expressing deep feelings about the action would have bothered anyone. He cried for a while later that night and I talked to him about it all. Then he said he wasn't sad any more and that was that.
I was predisposed to like this film. I have to admit I did want to see a beautiful black woman become a Disney Princess in a classic tale and moreover, for my brown-skinned daughter to see someone other than the typical Disney gal depicted. On our last morning at Disney World we happened across the Tiana and Naveen characters meeting people. There was a short line so see them so I approached to wait too but was told they had closed the line and asked to return an hour later. Too bad I thought. But then the staff member (cast member they're called over there!) decided to allow us on in. So a few minutes later the children were meeting Tiana and Naveen who were absolutely lovely and chatted with them for ages. Lady did OK with handsome Naveen's arm on her shoulder all along while Duncan had the pretty lady (and he likes the pretty ones!) hold his hand all the time.
We big people joined the children for a photo next and I positioned myself next to the prince.
When we'd finished they walked off regally, the Tiana character waving and smiling at all the gobsmacked little girls. It was sweet and I am not so cynical that I didn't get a warm feeling when a little girl of 4 or so stopped to stare at the princess who looked like her.