Disney’s The Princess and the Frog is such an important movie to me because, not only does it show people of color in excellence, which is always a plus, just the overall themes and morals of the story, how wishing on stars won’t always get you where you need to go, or how no matter how hard you work towards a goal, there’s something more important, that love is there, etc, etc, and just… I think it was such a beautifully done movie, the animation was gorgeous and just I think that it was a really great movie for Disney to end its hand drawn animation period with. Perfection, actually.
But gushing about a basically perfect movie isn’t just what I wanted to talk about, I just wanted to talk, and maybe rant a little about how this movie applies to real life.
One of the most memorable quotes of the movie, and definitely one of my favorites, has got to be, “that old star can only take you part of the way. You got to help him with some of the hard work of your own-” and really that quote does so much to set the tone of the movie. Not only does it show a parent’s impact on a child, how a little metaphor of hard work can do so much to impact Tiana as she gets older (her stubborn attitude towards laziness, the way she never gives herself a break, the way she is so one track minded that the only thing she is looking for is her restaurant) and of course sets the tone for the movie, the whole wishing on stars gimmick and the working hard to reach your goals. A lovely moral, if I do say so myself.
And then again… there is also the star… the fate, the luck of it all. That… without the help of “the star” or fate, Tiana was so close to losing her dream, her restaurant, her hard work, her life’s work. And just… I think that makes you think.
I’m going to go off track for a second, off the movie, onto real life. It’s really hard to become an animator. Actually, its really hard to become anything, but I think I’m going to use the specific career choice, an animator, for my topic. To become an animator you have to reach certain criteria. You have to take several art and anatomy classes, you need to have beautiful composition and understanding of color theory. You have to have an organized portfolio and you need to know your stuff basically. They choose animators based on talent, and though nowadays they are sort of leaning towards females to get in more of a gender balance in the field (though you still have to have talent in order to get in despite your gender), it is a male dominated field. And, it’s very interesting to see, when I went around the Disney Studios in Burbank California, I found out majority of the animators (well we went to a TV studio so it was more preproduction, but whatever) had actually gone to CalArts, a very competitive art school, of course located in Valencia, California.
And why is that? Well… CalArts is a school conveniently located near some of the greatest animation studios in the world, perhaps that’s my opinion, whatever, its true, and since it’s in such a great location, that gives students to CalArts more opportunities to work closely with animators there, for internships, for top animators FROM these studios to notice those students, etc. And what about the students from other art schools around the country, well they’re there, but one has to admit they’re at quite a disadvantage than those of students at CalArts.
And that’s where I wanted to make my point, about Tiana, and hard work, etc. Sometimes… It’s not just about hard work. Sometimes it’s the luck of the draw. That… Tiana’s best friend, Charlotte Lebouf, is a rich, young, white girl in the south during this time period, she’d obviously have a great advantage over Tiana, a young black woman of color, still in the south, and one has to remember this movie takes place during the 20’s, not exactly the most… colorful, so to say time period. And just… some people have an obvious advantage over others, and no matter how much hard work, there’s always gonna be the luck of the draw, the evening star, whatever, that will help.
And just… sometimes you have to believe on that star I think. Because… Working hard is important, working hard is partially what helped Tiana get to where she was. Working hard was Tiana’s key character trait, it was what made her, well, her. Working hard is important, I admit, but sometimes you need to put a little faith in your work too. Because just hard work… isn’t going to get you the whole way. That’s the other part of the quote-where… Even if the star doesn’t get you the whole way, it doesn’t mean the hard work can get you the whole way too. You need a little faith, trust, and pixie dust. Sometimes the help of your friends, and those you love helps a lot too.
I dunno, maybe I’m just overanalyzing things, but that’s my take. Keep working hard, keep on wishing, and maybe just one day you’ll be rewarded with your own “restaurant.”