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Enchanted - the Film

In: Film and Music

Submitted By Sereneez
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Iconic figure Walt Disney once stated, ‘Reality and fantasy often overlap’. Disney’s ‘Enchanted’ explores this intriguingly through the development of characters, incorporating Disney references in both worlds and comparing the contrast between the different views of love from all the characters. The film begins with a lovely opening sequence in hand-drawn animation set in the fairytale land of Andalasia. It’s a perfect summary of the classic Disney fairy-tale motif, capturing everything great of the old approach. The audience is first introduced to the fairytale stereotypical characters: joyful princess-to-be Giselle, lunkheaded Prince Edward, comical Nathaniel, malicious Queen Narissa and feisty Pip the chipmunk. Giselle serenades her fellow woodland creatures yearning for the arrival of a handsome prince to deliver her ‘true love’s kiss’, a reference to the only way Snow White and Aurora could be awakened from the curses that were put upon them. Prince Edward is your typical charming knight in shining armour and declares his love for Giselle instantly after hearing her sing. His stepmother, Queen Narissa, is the antagonist and does not want to step down from the throne so she banishes Giselle from the idyllic kingdom and into the not magical, unforgiving live-action world of New York city. What better purgatory than the place where, as the stepmother puts it, “There are no happily ever afters”.

The characters of the reality world are: cynical, non-nonsense Robert, fairytale believer Morgan and romantic hopeful Nancy. When Giselle winds up lost in the wilds of New York, she begins to realise that old, kind-looking men steal from you and nobody can tell you how to get to the castle. The cruelty of the city begins to wear down the carefree exterior of the princess but soon she is befriended by sceptical divorce lawyer Robert, whose compassion helps her to survive the foreign new world, despite sensing correctly that she’s well away with the fairies. Through conversations with Robert, Giselle struggles to maintain her fairytale virtues as Robert is very cynical in the ways of love. By the time Prince Edward finds Giselle, she no longer finishes his duets but thinks. She no longer wants to get married but wants to go on dates. In contrast, Nancy becomes more romantic through her excitement about the flowers, the invitation to the ball and Prince Edward. By the time the ball arrives, Giselle is dressed in a sleek modern dress while Nancy dons a voluminous dress. Giselle isn’t keen on returning to Andalasia so the stepmother seizes the moment to poison her one last time, telling her that taking a bite of the apple will erase her memory of reality so she can live in blissful ignorance with Edward. It is Robert who suggests that ‘a true love’s kiss’ will break the poison apple’s spell. After Edward's kiss fails to wake Giselle up due to her falling in love with Robert, he and Nancy suggest for Robert to kiss her. After a montage of the protagonist's new lives; Edward and Nancy run away back to Andalasia to get married, Giselle takes over Nancy’ fashion business but instead designs princess inspired dresses (a perfect compromise between fantasy and reality) and has a happy family with Robert and Morgan, Nathaniel becomes a best-selling author on Earth and so does Pip in Andalasia), the end narration states, "...and so they all lived happily ever after."

The Disney empire celebrates the classic princess genre it virtually invented while simultaneously sending up its more saccharine clichés. All the conventions of Disney fairy tales are there to start off- singing princesses, talking animals, monsters, evil queens, etc. There are thousands of references from other Disney films- some that are none too subtle, and others hidden away for more hard core Disney lovers to find. The Disney notions of true love, princes and princesses, talking animals, and big production numbers get the most jabs in Enchanted. One example of this is the King's and Queen's ball. A homage to the ballroom scene in Beauty and the Beast, which also features a couple dancing under a chandelier, to a song sung from the perspective of an observer (in Beauty and the Beast, it is the title song by Mrs. Potts; in Enchanted, it is “So Close” by Jon Mclaughlin. The camera angles are also very similar to the scene it references. Narissa to kill Giselle with poisoned apples, which is just like Snow White but Disney integrates the idea of poison through the apple toffee and martini. Another example is the credit card used to buy an outfit for the ball instead of a fairy godmother.

The movie explores the difference in the cynical reality and romantic fairytales. Prince Edward is the self-centered but well-meaning prince who bursts into song at the drop of a hat. When he arrives in New York, he foolishly stabs a bus with his sword only proving that his fairytale gallantry is ultimately useless. His character doesn’t change at all in reality which makes him return to Andalasia where his goofiness is acceptable. At the beginning of the movie, when Prince Edward heard Giselle singing, he instantly declared his love for her and organized to be married in the morning. This was to demonstrate that his idea of love was very childish and fleeting. In contrast, the movie uses Giselle to explore Robert’s completely opposite view on love, as he’s the character most grounded in reality. Over time, his cynicism is chipped away by Giselle’s chirpiness as she persistently tries to demonstrate and explain to him the magic of love.

In conclusion, Enchanted uses transformations of its key ideas, themes and characters from the Disney collection and the flaws of both reality and fantasy. Disney cleverly demonstrates the clash of fantasy and reality while exploring the fairytale genre humorously through connections with other films.

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