The animated Swan Princess movies from the 90s did some great things that I’d love to find in more romantic fantasy stories. I don’t think anyone will argue that they are the greatest animated movies ever made or that they are outstanding storytelling. But they fill a void for story elements I want to see more often. So, if you’re familiar, join me for a trip down memory lane. If you haven’t seen them, first, beware of spoilers, and second, I’ve included a nice image above that is also a link to the triple DVD collection on Amazon. (Full disclosure, that image is an affiliate link, so if you click through and spend money, I’ll earn a small commission.)
Okay, here we go…
More Than “True Love’s Kiss”
Odette’s curse could only be broken by a vow of true love—not just a kiss. Anyone can kiss someone. A vow requires actual feelings and dedication and planning of how to tell someone you truly care about them. I’m all about sharing feelings in fantasy. Props to Derek for…making his vow to the wrong girl. But it wasn’t his fault. She totally looked like Odette. He eventually got it right, though, and there was much rejoicing.
Queens Who Don’t Need/Want Kings
Uberta was a widow who ruled a kingdom and didn’t need to run off and find a husband to help. She didn’t even want to marry Odette’s dad. She just wanted her son to marry his daughter, but as she said, that was just “good politics.” Not sure I agree with her on that one, but it made for some movie fun, at the very least.
A Relationship After “Happily Ever After”
The end of the first movie saw Derek and Odette dancing by the water and kissing on their wedding day. And then the following movies showed them being married and ruling a kingdom while still facing all manner of villains who wanted to turn Odette into water fowl. They were the only royal couple in my collection (except Ariel) who had a life after marriage, which I thought was so cool. There’s lots of consideration given to how characters find a partner, but there isn’t so much for the life of those partnerships.
Romance With Teamwork
Derek has been known to tell Odette something is too dangerous or to be careful. But Odette also had her fair share of telling Derek to get away from danger or to save himself. Derek wasn’t too over-protective, and he even relied on Odette in a lot of situations. They also rule the kingdom as a team, which is great. And in particular when Odette’s rocking the water fowl form, they defeat some pretty bad baddies.
“Whenever I have to do something quick, I always bring a turtle.”
Need I say more? The sidekicks made this movie awesome and gave it a sense of fun. It wasn’t just about the villain doing villain things while the protagonists tried to stop them. And the villains were pretty cool, too. They didn’t just be evil all the time or only say super-threatening things in a very serious voice.
Derek and Odette might be the best rulers ever. The subjects of their kingdom were happy. Even before they got married, their parents’ subjects had lives and sang songs and did more than live in fear of the villain descending. They also didn’t all live in squaller while the royalty enjoyed luxury. In the third movie, they have a festival. It’s great. Here, watch a video of it.
What do you want to see in more fantasy stories? Tell me in the comments!