I have always been a fan of Disney films, since a young child, I would watch many of the beloved animated features with my siblings. It’s easy for a young girl to wis to be the beautiful princess in the tale, and even young boys wanting to be the brave prince that rescues the princess from the villain. But does anyone take the side of the villain?
Disney tends to use a pattern of drawing techniques to distinguish the heroes from the villains. The color palette for the clothing is vastly different. For example, the good guys are featured in bright warm colors, while the bad guys are featured in cold colors. There is even a visual difference in the character’s facial features. The good guys are given soft rounded facial features, yet the villains features are ridged instead..
Are the villains bad, or are they pursuing a dream just like the heroes? Just as easily they could think that their quest is of a noble intention yet are blinded by their desires to see how it affects the heroes. For example, in Tangled, Mother Gothel a witch who wants to stay young at the expense of Rapunzel’s hair which was magical due to the sundrop Rupunzel’s mother concume which was originally in Gothel’s care. She thought that by staying young would leave her strong and powerful.
Gothel’s intention is to always protect her flower and at first, she had tried to steal a stand of the princess’ hair only to find out that the magic only works with the hair connected to the princess. The power of the golden sun drop is a part of Rapunzel, as it was given to her at birth.
After watching The Little Mermaid, I was torn between loving the curious mermaid princess Ariel, and Ursula the sea witch, who is depicted a powerful villain. Ariel’s curiosity of the human world leads her to trade her voice to the sea which in exchange for legs. Ariel sacrifices who she is and gives up her talented voice in pursuit of true love
Usually, I don’t find myself routing for the villain, yet it was hard not to relate to Ursula. There weren’t many female characters animated with a plump hourglass figure. Even today, illustrators are being petitioned about changing Ursula’s iconic image to create a thinner woman. She proves that you can be confident with curves and a flirtatious personality. After being inspired by the sea witch,
In Beauty and the Beast, it is even harder to tell which male character the villain is, the beast or Gaston. It first appears that Gaston is an egotistical, selfish man who wants to marry Belle. Yet in the end of the film. He tries to save Belle and his town by going after the beast, who he sees as a monstrous creature.
The beast is stubborn, turning an old woman away in need of shelter. He even places Belle‘s father Maurice in the dungeon for trespassing, yet in the end allows the love he has for Belle to change his ways. Both characters let their emotions drive their actions. Belle, was brave enough to stand up to both men and fight for what she believed to be the right thing.
In Sleeping Beauty, the evil sorceress is thought to have enacted revenge against Princess Aurora as punishment against her parents, yet given her intellect seems like an improbable motivation. In the live-action version, titled Maleficent, we see that she is betrayed by King Stefan and only wants to be respected and left alone in her forest. I wonder if the Disney version, they wanted to demonstrate her magic and the effects it can have on those who cross her.
Furthermore, human motives are not always black and white, but rather in areas of grey. We are blinded by us on dreams and desires, failing to see the repercussions it may have on those around us. A villainous misdeed can seem innocent if occurred with noble intentions, just as the heroic deeds can be misguided if lead with selfish actions.