For most people, the word ‘Disney’ brings about an image of a multitude of princesses in sparkly dresses waiting for their one true love to save them from the scary antagonist of the fairytale dream. At least, that’s the image that is procured in my brain upon hearing the word – ‘Disney’. The first Disney movie ever created was ‘Snow White & The Seven Dwarves’ in 1937, almost eighty years before present day. Eighty years and yet, to this day, we hear ‘Disney’ and our minds unconsciously wander to princesses that need saving.
That’s not to say that Disney is completely unprogressive because some films do indeed demonstrate progression. For example, we have ‘Brave’, ‘Moana’ and a couple more films that can be considered progressive enough. ‘Moana’ of 2016 was a movie that centered around the self-realization and journey of a young Polynesian girl which did not involve a ‘strong’, ‘manly’ love interest. The lack of a love interest for Moana fared completely fine as she was a daring, courageous, intelligent girl pulling 400 million dollars for the real life box office. And dare I say it, Moana was strong! What a foreign notion that must have been for Disney; a strong female without a male love interest cheering her on from the sidelines. Nevertheless, the point is that Disney has been making a slight effort to change the “princess’ needing saving” mentality as of lately. Despite the good effort, Disney is still perceived as widely unprogressive due to decades upon decades of the cliche princess’ fairytale.
A couple of days ago, on July 15th, 2017, Disney released the teaser trailer for ‘A Wrinkle In Time’, which is an adaptation of the 1963 children’s classic by Madeleine L’Engle. The female director of the adaptation is Ava DuVernay who is determined to break major social barriers and structures within our world and the world of Disney through this movie. The film itself revolves around the character Meg Murry, who is portrayed by Storm Reid, a fourteen-year-old African American female. Along with Reid, other appearances within the film are held by Oprah Winfrey (from “The Oprah Winfrey Show”), Reese Witherspoon (primarily from “Legally Blonde”) and Mindy Kaling (from “The Mindy Project”). In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, DuVernay stated “There aren’t any other black women who have been invited to imagine what other planets in the universe might look and feel like. I was interested in that and in a heroine that looked like the girls I grew up with”. That, in itself, just screams one word and that one word is ‘progressive’. Therefore, many of the characters in the adaptation underwent a racial change from L’Engle’s ideas of the original book.
Some might argue that is not quite as progressive as it could be but put into perspective that this is a Disney movie with a lack of progression for the most part. Let’s stay away from the stars of the show and focus on Ava DuVernay for a minute. DuVernay had a vision for her adaptation and made it happen. ‘A Wrinkle In Time’ is the first hundred million dollar budget movie to be directed by a woman of color and the third movie of all women directors.
You hear that? That, my friend, is the sound of the social structure collapsing brick by brick.
‘A Wrinkle In Time’ is based on the ideals of family and the battle between good and evil. It centers around the difference between individuality and conformity. The protagonist, Meg, feels that she does not fit in and wishes to conform to the likes of her peers. Yet, as she journeys and fights her battles, she soon realizes the comfort in being different and the hopelessness in conformity as a society. Every person is unique and these differences in personality and character are what make a society a whole. The novel praises human creativity and individuality, which is something that our society needs today. So many people, especially young children, are scared to be different and fear being ostracized. ‘A Wrinkle In Time’ spreads the message that being different is, in fact, good and necessary thing, and that differences are not something to be ashamed of, but something to be proud of.
Disney is turning over a new leaf and breaking social norms. From racial representation to messages promoting uniqueness to female representation. ‘A Wrinkle In Time’ just might be evidence that Disney is leaving the 1900’s standards and expectations where they belong: way back there, and is ready to join today’s progressive and socially aware mindset.
You can watch the teaser trailer here for the star studded adaptation including the amazing actors/actresses Bellamy Young, Chris Pine, and Rowan Blanchard along with those mentioned above.