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Maleficent: Updating Disney Princesses

Oct 31, 2014

The Maleficent DVD and Blu-ray will hit stores on November 4th and today we have a pretty wonderful message from producer Don Hahn. We all know that modern Disney Princesses like Ana and Elsa, Tiana and Merida are strong ladies. They’re all about being smart and taking care of themselves. However, the older Princesses aren’t exactly the same.

Disney Princesses have changed over the yearsDisney Princesses have changed over the years

We talked to Don recently about Maleficent and how they changed the story of Sleeping Beauty for a modern audience. He told us, “We knew that the 50s version was very much a 50s version, so you have a protagonist in the movie who’s sleeping through most of the movie, and is only awakened when her man shows up. So the story is about how life starts for a woman when she’s married.”

Sleeping Beauty got a modern updateSleeping Beauty got a modern updateCourtesy of Disney

“So... fantastic message for 1959. Horrible message for now. I have a daughter, I have friends... It’s just inappropriate, and that was the genesis of ‘We have to retell this in a way that’s appropriate,’ and that’s what fairy tales are.”

Someday my Prince will come isn’t really a great messageSomeday my Prince will come isn’t really a great messageCourtesy of Disney

So, why aren’t there more female leads? We certainly go see them when there are. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 is about to break pre-sale records. Maleficent showed us two strong women. We like that, don’t we, ladies?

Elle Fanning as Aurora is very different than the animated versionElle Fanning as Aurora is very different than the animated versionCourtesy of Disney

“I think a lot of early tellings of fairy tales and movies in Hollywood, you know, in general don’t have females in them,” Hahn said. “There are a lot of buddy movies ­ or when women are in the movie or girls, particularly, they’re portrayed as weak and unable to solve their own problems. And that’s the wonderful and terrible thing about movies like Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. You can’t do anything until your man comes along and then your life will start. It will start with twins, and it will start with laundry.” Yuck, right?

This Sleeping Beauty story has strong women in it!This Sleeping Beauty story has strong women in it!Courtesy of Disney

He finished by saying, “We knew we couldn’t do the ‘Your life will start when your man shows up’ story, so I think with those two things in hand, we felt we had to be brave to our audience and relevant to our audience.” Kudos to Maleficent for showing us something different!

MALEFICENT is scary, even when she's animated!MALEFICENT is scary, even when she's animated!Courtesy of Disney

Have Your Say

What did you think of Maleficent? Who’s your favorite Disney Princess? Let us know in the comments!