After Pocahontas, Jasmine and Mulan, the wonderful world of Walt Disney welcomes a new Princess, the beautiful Tania. The studios play the Obama card by creating an African American heroine in their latest cartoon entitled The Princess and the Frog.
Tania, the Disney’s first black princess has no reason to be jealous of the previous princesses. The beautiful, intelligent and independent young woman dreams of starting her own restaurant in New Orleans. But her plans are compromised when she meets a mysterious prince named Naveen of Maldonia…
Transformed into a frog by Dr. Facilia, a villainous voodoo magician, he can only return to his human form if a princess kisses him. But his path crosses Tania’s, who is in fact a mere waitress. This tactical error sees the young woman turned into a frog and ultimately spending three quarters of the film’s duration in green.
An air of deja vu
The action takes place in Louisiana in the 20s when jazz music rules. An atmosphere that Disney managed to recreate with near perfection. Tania takes us on a leisurely walk through the old colonial quarters where we are lulled by small bands that enrapture the city. The love story is simple but effective.
It does not deviate from previous storylines: A handsome and rich young man who falls for a beautiful but poor young girl. It is a romantic encounter made for young people.
Graphically, the characters lend “The Princess and the Frog” an air of deja vu. The evil wizard, Dr. Facilia, could be the hidden brother of Jafar, the evil Vizier in Aladdin, whilst Prince Naveen could be taken for the distant cousin of Prince Ali.
Segregation or not?
Nevertheless, the choice of the time leaves skeptics a lot of room to manoevre. Allusions to the ever-present segregation of the 20s are rare. And it is only by chance are we able to tell the tensions between blacks and whites. For example, early in the film a mother and child board a bus and move to the back, a part reserved for only blacks. Nothing more.
Except, perhaps, Louis, a swamp alligator, an impassioned jazz lover and trumpeter who is always getting thrown out of bands because he looks scary. A metaphorical depiction of the prohibition of blacks from joining bands.
Walt Disney, as usual, continues to protect its magical world where problems are solved with a touch of the wand …