Women to rule the animation world
Hollywood animation is breaking long-standing stereotypes, and writing new stories high on women power. It is also challenging the traditional way to look at fairy tales, while giving a gender neutral lens to look at the story
In Hollywood's animation world, the damsels aren't in distress anymore, waiting for Prince Charming to arrive and rescue them. Neither are they waiting for Prince Charming to sweep them off their feet, or put on a glass slipper, or climb golden mane to rescue them from a tower or for that magical, true love's kiss to break a spell.
Hollywood animation is breaking long standing stereotypes, and writing new stories high on women power.
What ties Mulan, Moana, Brave, Zootopia and Frozen together? They challenge the traditional way to look at fairy tales, and give a gender neutral lens to look at the story.
Frozen co-director Jennifer Lee, who put sisterhood first in the line of love, and redefined the "act of true love" in the film, says they are still fairy tales, in which they are trying to flip those tropes.
Asked about women power shining bright in animated films, Lee said: "I don't think I can break it down to one thing like that. I think every film is very different. They reflect the filmmaker themselves, they reflect the time they were made in. And so for me, the best thing is when people get different things out of them. I'm very nostalgic for a lot of classic films for many different reasons. Mostly to do with perseverance in the strength to go on through hard times, and stay true to yourself that resonated with me as I grew up."
Lee became the first woman to direct a Disney animated feature with Frozen in 2013. She shared directing duties with Chris Buck. She became the first female director to helm a billion dollar film, with "Frozen" becoming the highest-grossing animated film before remake of The Lion King took that position in 2019.
Frozen challenges the notion that "true act of love should only be about prince charming", but can be love with anyone close to you.
"It was an interesting the concept started by Chris long ago," Lee shared.
Recalling the idea, Buck said: "I was just pitching an idea trying to do something which was that true love was not the kiss from the prince. It's like we've done that we've done it very well. There are many forms of true love. And one of those is the familial love, the family, the strength and love between your family and especially these two sisters (Elsa and Anna from 'Frozen'). So we wanted to explore that and the studio was thrilled about it."
According to Lee, it was a delicious idea for a writer.
"We have really balanced rooms of men and women and we talked a lot about relationships and sort of said that 'this is how it really feels and this is the reality a lot of us go through and the guy who walks in and looks like perfection, isn't perfect, nine times out of 10'. It's the reality of relationships, put them with family – it's one that you don't choose family at the beginning, you can choose family later but that power and that wrestle is overwhelming."
She thinks fairy tales beautifully show "normal human characters go through some extraordinarily powerful, scary and overwhelming experiences and work hard to persevere".
"So, they are still in my head fairy tales, but it's just that we are flipping those tropes," Lee added.
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