Okay, there are few things that I’ve been arguing with people about since I was basically in elementary school. They’re really useless things. That I’m super passionate about for whatever reason. (I need help.)
Number one, Sleeping Beauty has Aurora in a blue dress literally the entire film, showing her in Flora’s pink for mere flashing seconds in the end dance scene. And yet, Disney’s need to only make Aurora dolls in pink has left a lot of people believing the opposite. Hello, she should be in blue–it’s canon, folks. I’m with Merriweather on this one, “Make it blue!”
Number two, the myriad of memes, online quizzes, and whatever else that bring together all the Disney princesses, only to feature a nice line-up of ladies who, in fact, have no relation to Disney and its royal lineup whatsoever. But, here we are, decades later, and people continue to confuse these characters as Disney-sanctioned princesses. Thus, I bring you to Tuesday Tunes, where over the next few weeks we’ll look at these mistaken-as-Disney-princesses and their very Disney-like musical films.
Hi, My Name is Odette, and I Am Not a Disney Princess
Swan Princess is a 1994 American animated film that, thanks to a re-release of the Lion King, completely flopped during it’s November release. Costing over $20 million to make, it barely got $9 million back. Complete and total financial disaster.
It was thanks to a joint Pillsbury and Turner Home Entertainment marketing campaign for the VHS release that new life was brought into a once doomed venture. Swan Princess sold 2.5 million copies, enough to spur on a limited theatrical released sequel, and enough to cement itself into little kids memories forever. Come on, once you see that swan transformation sequence, you can’t go back!
Now almost 24-years later, Swan Princess is a nostalgic piece of many of our childhoods. Watching it as an adult, it’s easier to tell, “Okay, this is definitely lacking something,” but that doesn’t keep us from revisiting this film. Because, dude, whatever, I will forever love this movie. I’m that shameless.
So, what is it about Swan Princess that has people confusing it as Disney property? Well, the most basic understanding of a Disney movie is most likely the art style.
Swan Princess does its best to match that American cartoon realism, displaying characters that are put together in a generally anatomically considerate way. Appendages and features are, for the most part, simplified versions of an actual human body. No anime eyes over here!
Swan Princess also borrows a lot of Disney-esque tropes for the film. A lot of Swan Princess actually seems to mirror Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. An opening dramatic story of a princess’s birth which spurs on the anger of some villain, who eventually plots to use her in their dirty scheme–sound familiar? Even the scene with Prince Derek peeking over infant Princess Odette’s cradle is reminiscent of Prince Phillip meeting Princess Aurora for the first time.
Then there’s the Disney staple of the OTP waltzing scene, which generally has the couple fading into some sort of storybook picture. Rather than including it in its end scene, Swan Princess throws it right at the end of the first musical number. Much like the end dance between Aurora and Philip, Odette and Derek’s romantic dance fades into a background of fluffy pastels. It’s scenes like these, which are almost visual comfort food by the point we were introduced to Swan Princess, that can get people confused.
Really, though, it’s that whole “animated fantasy musical” combo that has people seeing Mickey ears when watching Swan Princess. Although it’s certainly not just a Disney thing, and it certainly wasn’t invented by Disney, due to the studio’s success and world-renowned grounding in the market, it’s natural to see 2D animation with singing animals and think, “Oh, it’s a Disney movie!”
Of course, now that we’ve all aged and continue to watch Swan Princess even though we’re almost thirty (that could just be me, though), we can notice the differences in quality when it comes Disney musicals and their impersonators. Still, that doesn’t keep me from enjoying it.
Swan Princess, no doubt, was built to bank on that money-making musical model back in the early 90s, and not every song quite has that magical touch, but the fact one of Swan‘s musical numbers was nominated for the 1995 Golden Globe for Best Original Song is nothing to scoff about. Really, regardless of the film’s less-than-stellar parts, you have to agree that it has become a Disney film in a lot of people’s minds simply because the music worked in a very Disney-like way. That is, to this day, these songs resonate with us.
When I can throw on a track from Swan Princess–which, again, it almost 24-years old–and people can sing it word-for-word, even all these years later? Swan Princess may not be an actual Disney movie, Odette may not actually be a Disney princess, but to stand the test of time and memory? That’s a very Disney thing to accomplish! Let’s reminisce with some of the stronger musical numbers from the film, shall we?
Far Longer Than Forever
By far the most iconic of the film, as well as the one to achieve the Golden Globe nomination, “Far Longer Than Forever” features a rousing cry to true love. Which, you know, is weird considering since in the movie I’m pretty sure Derek couldn’t decide what he loved about Odette other than her stunning looks, to which we get that great line, “What else is there?”
Yeah, so their love itself isn’t exactly depicted to be as “true” as this song and the film insists it to be, but that doesn’t mean we can’t sing the crap out of this song!
This is My Idea
One of my favorite tell-a-story songs, I love watching Derek and Odette grow up. I think that, had the film kept many of the strong characterizations this song presented, Swan Princess could have been quite a different look at the prince and princess love story.
I love watching Odette’s strong personality grow as she suffers summer after summer through Derek’s sour and patriarchal antics. I especially obsessed over teen Odette, returning to Derek’s kingdom confident and unyielding, with Derek left not knowing what to do with this new girl. I wish they had done more with that, but for now, I’ll accept the tiny glimpse we’re given of what could have been, and enjoy the music while I’m at it!
Not a song that was actually included in the film, “Eternity” is the end credits song performed by Japanese band Dreams Come True. Dreams Come True are one of the best-selling artists in Japan, but they’ve actually seen their fair share of English-speaking work, including singing the opening song for Sleepless in Seattle, and of course their work with Swan Princess.
Not only is “Eternity” a great pop tune, the music video that was included at the end of the Swan Princess VHS made it even better. You can view the actual music video here (it’s after the “message to parents”), but it was all sorts of stage prop adorableness. Do you remember it as well as I do?
What’s your favorite song from Swan Princess?