In the picture
Okay. As I took my seat in the cinema I did get a few strange looks from the parents and their kids who were already seated waiting for The Princess and the Frog to start rolling. I had no kids with me. There was just me, my girlfriend, and a choc top.
What was I doing there at this cartoon kids’ flick? What was I? A weirdo?
I tell you what I was doing – I was enjoying one of cinema’s enduring pleasures, the sublime art of Disney’s hand-drawn animation. There are some things that humans can do better than a computer. Animation is one of them. (Mango daiquiri is the other.)
The Princess and the Frog is a beautiful film, no matter what age you are.
There is a lyricism to the animation; a sort of visual poetry. It’s evident right from the opening scenes of a lush New Orleans in the jazz age, or later with the dark, mysterious swamps of the Louisiana bayou.
With the huge success of computer-generated animation (CGI) starting with Toy Story in the mid 90s, Disney eventually decided to get out of hand-drawn animation altogether in 2004. But luckily for us, that decision was reversed (ironically) after Disney purchased Pixar, the CGI leaders, some years ago.
The Princess and the Frog, Disney’s first hand-drawn animation for years, is the result.
And what a magic little film it is.
Writers and directors of this film Ron Clements and Ron Musker also directed Aladdin (1992) and The Little Mermaid (1989). They know their animation stuff.
The Princess and the Frog made me laugh out loud a few times and – don’t tell anyone this – I got a bit choked up when Ray the firefly got killed by that evil voodoo magician bloke.
And when Prince Naveen kisses his Princess Tiana to seal their vows of love, my hand did tighten on my girlfriend’s knee. She handed me the choc top.
This version of the classic kiss-a-frog-and-get-a-prince fairytale is, of course, magical but also quite radical. The princess is an African-American. (The world has changed since Snow White.) And her prince is a white fella.
The Princess and the Frog is an entertaining, dramatic tale with heaps of humour, romance and, like all fairytales, eternal truths. (You can achieve your dreams with hard work. Love conquers all. Beware of property developers.)
So there. Hand-drawn animation rules. Check it out for yourself – with or without kids.