When one thinks about movie princesses a few names come top of mind: Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora and Belle. This fab four have come to define what being a movie princess is all about. Or at least they used to.
Once upon a time a movie princess was a damsel in distress, swathed in pink and jewels, waiting for Prince Charming to come to the rescue.
Lately, however, the movies have given us a different kind of princess, one who is more into grrrl-power than girly-girl.
Mark Andrews, the co-director of this weekend’s cinema release Brave, the story of a Celtic princess who rebels against her mother, calls the movie’s lead character “an anti-princess.”
“She’s an active and action-oriented person,” he says. “She wants to get out in the outdoors of the Highlands, escaping from castle life and exploring the woods.”
Brave isn’t the first movie to shatter the stereotype of the pretty pink princess.
According to Roger Ebert, Ariel, the teenage mermaid princess of The Little Mermaid, “is a fully realized female character who thinks and acts independently, even rebelliously, instead of hanging around passively while the fates decide her destiny.”
In other words, she still marries her prince charming, but for the first time a Disney princess gave a lesson in independence and had a hand (or fin) in deciding her fate.
The success of that movie led to a new batch of princesses who were empowered and could look after themselves and others.
Pocahontas was an adventurous princess who put her own life at risk to stop a war between her people, the Powhatans, and the British settlers, and the fiery Mulan broke gender boundaries by enlisting in the army and saving China from total devastation at the hands of the Huns.
Jasmine, the daughter of the wealthy Sultan of Agrabah and the princess at the heart of Aladdin, didn’t fight off invaders but she did do something that made her unique in the Disney princess world.
Tired of life in the royal palace, instead of waiting for rescue, the independently minded noblewoman made her own way, even deciding to marry a commoner rather than a prince.
But not all anti-princesses are animated.
The recent mega-flop John Carter featured Martian
Princess Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins) who, despite falling for the prince charming title character, was also a warrior and a scientist who wasn’t afraid to stand up for things she believed in.