The Princess and the Frog: A Look at Evil in Disney Films

Posted: June 23, 2014 by jperritt in Animation, Drama, Family
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

princessNot too long ago I bashed a Disney classic (Peter Pan; even though I do like it), so I thought I would come to Disney’s defense in this post.  After all, we had an excellent time in Disney World this past October and we own/enjoy many of their movies.

We were recently watching The Princess and the Frog, and I noticed how this film contains some pretty dark themes in it.  Then, I thought about almost every Disney film having elements of evil depicted.  Let’s take a minute to reflect on a few of the films:

  • Finding Nemo – the mother and her litter (is that the correct term?) of fish are destroyed in the opening minutes of the film.
  • The Lion King – the father is stampeded by some gazelles, Scar makes us all cry, and the hyenas are just plain mean.
  • Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs – the scary witch still gives me nightmares and she poisons Snow White (whose voice drives me crazy, by the way).
  • Sleeping Beauty – has Maleficent who looks demonic prior to turning into a dragon, but drives further fear into the hearts of pre-schoolers by breathing fire.
  • Toy Story 1 – Sid
  • Toy Story 2 – Al of Al’s Toy Barn
  • Toy Story 3 – Lotso
  • Toy Story trilogy – all of them have some pretty terrifying/sad moments.  Sid’s toy experiments, a child who abandons her doll (Jessie) on the street, Lotso’s rebellion, toys descending into the pit of “hell”, and Andy making the entire audience cry by giving his toys away (be honest…you cried).
  • Up – everyone over the age of 25 was crying in the first 10 minutes
  • Tangled – “Mother knows best” Mother Gothel’s aging makes every child cower; not to mention her fall out of the tower is a little unsettling.
  • Frozen – the parents die and Elsa won’t build a snow man with Anna for Pete’s sake! (the huge snow creature is also frightening).

And, then we get to The Princess and the Frog, quite possibly the most demonic and frightening, because it does explicitly deal with demons, after all.  Dr. Facilier makes a deal with the Devil and uses voodoo throughout the film.  Demons dance around and then Dr. Facilier’s deal goes wrong and he is dragged to hell…literally.

But, all this talk may have sounded somewhat negative and I began this post stating it would be positive.  So here’s my assertion: This is all really good stuff.  I mean, sometimes I’d watch these films with my children and think, couldn’t they have left all the dying out?  Couldn’t they have left off that scary part?  Or, did they really have to make the moles on her nose that grotesque?  However, then I thought about the nature of evil and realized, it’s real.

The truth is, there is death.  The truth is, there is sadness.  The truth is, demonic forces are wagging war against us each and every day.  If that’s the case, then what’s my problem with these depictions?  My problem is the fact that my pre-fall nature is kicking in.  I want Eden.  I want the Eden that existed before that nasty serpent.  Or, I wan’t Jesus to be here…now.  I want to be in Heaven.  You see, these desires are normal.  The knee-jerk desire that hates evil, death, sadness, and demons is a good thing.  But, the cold harsh truth is the fact that we live in the “already” and the “not yet”.  Jesus Christ has already come, but he has not yet returned.

Therefore, Disney got it right!  We need children growing up with a sense of fear, sadness, and evil.  It is unloving to raise them without a sense of brokenness.  The more brokenness they feel, the better.  It’s just our job to let them know that there’s only one “magical spell” that can break this.  And it’s not a kiss from a prince or some incantation from a good wizard, it’s only fixed by the righteous blood of Jesus Christ.

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