CATEGORIES FeaturesIn 'The Princess and the Frog,' Anika Noni Rose's Tiana is the latest update of a time-honored movie archetype: the Feisty Disney Princess.
Whether the princess' kingdom is on land or sea, or at whatever point in history her story takes place, Disney has produced heroines for every generation of girls. Check out the eight most popular, then tell us who's your favorite. In 'The Princess and the Frog,' Anika Noni Rose's Tiana is the latest update of a time-honored movie archetype: the Feisty Disney Princess.
Whether the princess' kingdom is on land or sea, or at whatever point in history her story takes place, Disney has produced heroines for every generation of girls. Check out the eight most popular, then tell us who's your favorite.
Snow White ('Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,' 1937)
This is the template for all the princess stories that followed. Besides our beautiful heroine, we've got the wicked Queen, the supernatural element (a poisoned apple), and the handsome Prince who swoops in for the rescue. Best of all, though, are the Seven Dwarfs, the original posse. Starting with them, the wacky sidekick has been a staple of animated flicks ever since, and in this case the best part of the movie.
Cinderella ('Cinderella,' 1950)
Another evergreen. From 'Pretty Woman' to 'The Princess Diaries,' this rags-to-riches princess has been updated more often than Joan Rivers' profile. What's not to love? Not only do the evil stepmother and wicked stepsisters get theirs in the end, but our heroine gets a fabulous makeover. Could a show like 'How Do I Look?' even be possible without Cinderella?
Princess Aurora ('Sleeping Beauty,' 1959)
While this is one of the most beautifully drawn Disney animations, it may also be the most suggestive princess flick ever made. For starters, Princess Aurora is put to sleep by a spell--by pricking her finger--and can only be awoken by the kiss of a prince. (Nudge nudge, say no more!) Moreover, Philip must slay a dragon--with the Sword of Truth--to free her. If there's a dreamier picture of sexual awakening, we'd like to see it.
Ariel ('The Little Mermaid,' 1989)
This modern classic is kind of a 'Sleeping Beauty' gone underwater. This time, though, Ariel loses her voice (what is it with Disney princesses being physically afflicted?) in exchange for getting her legs. 'Mermaid' brought a modern sensibility to this fable-dig her Ann-Margret red hair-and when you added in Alan Menken and Howard Ashman's terrific musical score including the jaunty "Kiss the Girl," it became a touchstone.
Belle ('Beauty and the Beast,' 1991)
And this "tale as old as time" may have even topped it. Belle gives herself up to the Beast in exchange for her father's life, only to eventually uncover the villain's true potential to love and to literally become more human. Menken and Ashman outdid themselves with the title tune and the rollicking "Be Our Guest." But the animation is killer, and the cast--Angela Lansbury, Robbie Benson, David Ogden Stiers, Jerry Orbach--not only entertains, but pulls at your heartstrings with every beautifully-drawn frame.
Jasmine ('Aladdin,' 1992)
A little role reversal, please! Princess Jasmine falls for the poor street urchin, but she can't marry a commoner. The thing is, though, Robin Williams steals the show as he empties his satchel of voices and manic comic bits as the Genie. Great entertainment, of course, but between him and Aladdin, Jasmine is almost an extra in her own romance.
Pocahontas ('Pocahontas,' 1995)
Just as Pixar was redrawing the world with 'Toy Story,' Disney made one last stand for traditional animation with this historically based romance about the Indian princess and the white settler John Smith. Graceful and sort of subdued, 'Pocahontas' is a love story with a politically correct moral. But Pocahontas herself is no damsel in distress; she saves Smith from the chopping block, has some impressive diplomatic skills, and can hold her own in the Great Outdoors. How cool is that?
Mulan (Mulan,' 1998)
Disney put a decidedly modern twist on the princess theme here. Not only does Mulan (Ming-Na) disguise herself as a man to join the army, but she also manages to save not just her family's honor, but pretty much all of China. Not only that, but any woman who can start an avalanche with a well-placed rocket totally rocks.
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