I just finished watching The Princess and The Frog.
In many ways it matches what I’ve been blogging about the past few weeks — and I have been going on the same vein for the past few weeks with what I have been saying, but not that anyone has been following. In many ways it was summated in the rejection of the American Dream, and a search for meaning in the Gospel in my last blog. Though, at first “The Princess and the Frog” may not on the surface be a ideal movie for demonstrating this. I am reading that Christianity Today, in their review of the film they criticized its sexual undertones, and moreover they said that, “it’s the use of voodoo that ultimately reveals the movie’s hollow, thoughtless core.”
I find that somewhat untrue, in the light of the greater message which is question what we put our value in. The voodoo and the “magic” used made me somewhat uncomfortable in light of the children I imagine would watch this movie. But to assert your own narrative on the film, while not commenting on the larger film as a whole is dishonest.
“You know the thing about good food? It brings folks together from all walks of life. It warms them right up and it puts little smiles on their faces.”
Indeed, the movie is the reclaimation of the idea of community. In an individualised world, we are often disconnected from one another, and alone we can only bring ourselves so far. This movie upholds the principles of a classic Disney movie, assembling together the most diverse of characters together in a team to conquer one common evil. In the Lion King, there was Timon and Pumbaa. In Snow White and the 7 Dwarves, the emotional capacity of man is demonstrated through each of the 7 dwarves. In Dumbo, he is befriended by crowes which teach him to fly. In Cinderella, she has two mice and various animals to aid her in her fight. I’m not going to keep on reading the Wikipedia entry on the List of Disney Theatrical Films because I realise I’m only up to the 1950′s and another 60 years to the present. It is never a theme within a Disney movie to keep on a single character, but a myriad of diverse characters bring an irreplaceable dynamic to the main character.
This is something I have never realised, and something that is absent from the movies today. The warmness of the animation brings this back — it is an oft forgotten concept, the importance of community.
The question of the film essentially is what is your dream?
It’s a modernised Disney hand drawn animated feature, modernised in the sense that it re-evaluates the message of all the previous films. Where in countless Disney films, the subject and aim of the film was the concept of “true love” – this film deals with the idea of success, the main character Tiana works at two jobs to pay for the down payment of her own restaurant.
There is a scene late in the movie where a voodoo doctor asks her, what is her dream? She is presented inside of her dream restaurant, she looks at the guitar player, and he is unfamiliar to her. The splendour of the establishment was sure; she is undoubtedly inside the place which she had dreamed about since she was little.
“Just look at this place! Gonna be the crown jewel of the City.”
In many ways, this is what we set our eyes upon. Our dreams are earthly things, and things that would fade. The prize as Christians should be one of the “upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3) The movement from the horizontal view of life, to acknowledging the larger context–namely the vertical acknowledgment of God in the operations of the world, is a total paradigm change that should be the first step of a young Christian. This movie demonstrates this as both of the main characters develop through the movie — the realization strikes them that they cannot change the situation without the community around them. I’m not saying that we should seek answers in jazz-playing alligators or talking fireflies though.
I cannot tell of the end of the movie, for that would ruin it and people would be displeased with me. But the movie represents a rejection of old Disney film ideals to a degree. Whether intentionally or not, Disney movies of old, were a reaction against the simplicity of menial existence, presenting the transcendentalism of both love and wealth. Yet this film rejects that mold and further refines the ideal — not only with an African-American protagonist in this film — the film presents a critique of the American Dream, and how that is not enough either, but purely love.
Of course, the question will never be answered in the medium of film because Jesus is the fulfillment of life. Though, the Princess and the Frog speaks of a love on a horizontal level, with the love between a princess and a frog. It speaks also of love being greater than any earthly principle. It is a paradigm change, with the rejection of material for immaterial — specifically love. “[Our] citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,” Philippians 3:20 (English Standard Version)
There are a multitude of themes that “The Princess and The Frog” brings up, some less palatable, as evidenced with the great criticism that has arisen from the release of the film. The French even accused the movie of racism because of the working title: The Frog Princess. I don’t know what complaints there can be, where there is a children’s film that continues to promote an undying love. Moreover, the utter sufficiency of love in life that can weather any storm, mirroring the love that Christ has for His church.
“My Dad never did get what he wanted, but he had what he needed. He had love.”