Is Disney Changing Its Meaning Of ‘True Love?’ [OPINION]
Warning: If you have not seen ‘Frozen’ or the newly released ‘Maleficent,’ there are spoilers contained in this article from both films.
“True Love,” a term that has been debated and criticized for many years thanks to Disney. In the Disney films we find the princess falling in love with a prince at what is basically love at first sight and calling it “True Love” and BAM, happily ever after. Now after many movies that show this, is Disney now trying to change the image and meaning of “True Love?”
First let’s begin with the film that actually began to question the meaning, the epic 2013 hit ‘Frozen.’ At first it seemed it was going to follow the Disney love formula when Anna met Prince Hans and did a whole song about Love. It wasn’t out of the ordinary to see this in a Disney film, but, what was unusual was the scene that followed afterwards. Anna going to her sister, the newly crowned Queen Elsa, to seek her approval to marry Hans.
In this very scene Disney breaks their formula; rather than Elsa being happy for her sister she actually questions her decision and even says that she will not approve the marriage because “You can’t marry a guy you just met.” For an animated Disney film this was actually unheard of and was a nice change in the matter of love.
After that scene ‘Frozen’ took it further when Anna went on her journey to find Elsa when she ran into Kristoff, her partner in the film, was also shocked about Anna wanting to marry Hans because they just met that day and already talked about getting married.
Now there are other instances I can point out about how the movie questions what ‘True Love’ is but one powerful scene really explains where Disney was going with this.
Near the end of the film, Anna accidentally gets hit by Elsa’s ice powers and is beginning to turn into ice. It is discovered that only the power of ‘True Love’ could thaw Anna’s icy heart and prevent her from becoming an ice statue. Afterwards it is revealed that Hans has his own agenda and wants to secure his own kingdom. Hans then makes a move to kill Elsa since Anna herself is close to death. Anna in her last moments moves to protect Elsa from Hans and then turns into ice. Shortly after Anna begins to thaw and it is discovered that the love for her sister by selflessly sacrificing herself for Elsa was the power of ‘True Love’ that thawed her icy heart.
It was love of a family member, her very own sister, that prevented Anna from dying, not “True Love’s Kiss” that many people believed would help her.
So what does ‘Maleficent’ have in connection with the direction ‘Frozen’ took with their meaning of ‘True Love’?
Before we can explain that key scene in ‘Maleficent,’ let us explain how it came to that point. The title character Maleficent puts a curse on King Stefan’s daughter for revenge on betraying her.
“She will prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and she will enter into a sleep-like death. No power on Earth except for ‘True Love’s Kiss’ can break the spell.”
As Aurora is growing up under the care (or lack thereof) of the three fairies, it is Maleficent that really takes care of her, watching her grow and keeping her safe. She cares for Aurora as her own daughter as the years progress. It is this bond that Maleficent realizes she has made a horrible mistake and wants to revoke the curse but is unable.
Enter Prince Phillip, if you remember from the classic animated Disney film ‘Sleeping Beauty,’ Aurora and Phillip meet in the forest and practically fall in love at first sight. In ‘Maleficent’ the two characters see the beauty in one another and begin to grow an infatuation with each other and Maleficent believes that to be the ‘True Love’ that will break her spell.
Fast forward to Aurora now asleep and under the spell, Prince Phillip enters the chamber and kisses her. What happens afterwards? Nothing, Aurora does not wake up as this kiss was not that of ‘True Love.’ Phillip did not “love” Aurora at that point because Phillip did not know her or have the time to really sort out his feelings for Aurora. Phillip leaves and out comes Maleficent who places a kiss on Aurora’s forehead and next thing you know she is awake and the spell is broken.
The ‘True Love’s Kiss’ in that scene was the kiss of a mother. Maleficent loved Aurora like a daughter and nothing is perhaps more true than the love a mother would have for her child.
Could it be that Disney is changing their meaning of “True Love?” That it is not a boy and girl falling in love at first sight where the stars and cosmos and the universe are perfectly aligned and everything is just right and magic has been created?
That may very well be because both of these films showed love one might feel towards their family members. There are times our family might drive up the wall or even do things that we may not approve of, but we cannot deny the deep connection that we feel for those in our family.
A connection that cannot be felt elsewhere.