Animation Review Part Eleven | What Disney Taught Me About Love


So remember back in January when I said I would try to post more consistently on a weekly basis? Yeah. That New Year’s resolution didn’t happen.

But the summer is finally upon us and I think it’s a fitting time to take a deep breathe, take a step back and reflect on the past school year. It got me thinking about what I wanted to blog about first, and for some reason this came up to mind. I think it’s something I’ve always been wanting to write about because of the stigma the whole love at first sight mentality has gathered over the years but never really had any relevance to my own personal life until now. I’m writing a little informal musical adaption of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet called Star Crossed Lovers where it kind of promotes the whole love at first sight thing Disney is associated with. I don’t know, there’s something eerily appealing about the idea. The fact that you just “know” based on subtle mannerisms or first impressions. Or when you keep running into someone and it feels like nature is trying to bring you guys together. I think it epitomizes this willingness to trust the world even if it’s imperfect. To just go with your instinct and open up your heart for a chance at love.


Disney mainly gets the crap it gets because it depicts the ideal love at first sight situation. You know, when it actually works. But I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with this. It’s just showing us a version of the world that we’d like to live in. It’s showing us how amazing love can feel. And I think it works in a fairytale setting where flounders are actually cute and candelabra can flirt with feather dusters. So without further justifying this post, here are five things Disney taught me about love.

5. Love Has Little To Do With Physical Appearance

Okay, you’re already thinking Beauty and the Beast, but there are other movies that reinforce the idea that love isn’t all about looks. Captain Li Shang from Mulan ended up falling for someone who dressed up as a man for almost their entire time together!


I think Mulan’s story is comforting for those who feel like they are in the friend zone. Sometimes, something that is revealed about a character can completely change a guy’s (or girl’s) perspective on you. Sure, it probably eased Shang’s confidence in his sexuality when he figured out that Mulan was a girl, but it’s interesting how Mulan actually needs to win over Shang (again) when she’s a girl because it also revealed that she lied to him in order to join the army. It isn’t until the emperor of China tells Shang, “You don’t meet a girl like that every dynasty” when Shang realizes how awesome of a person Mulan is, which is the exact moment when he decides to date her.

4. Love Is Weird/Doesn’t Make Sense

Probably one of my more favorite recent Disney pairings has to be Kristoff and Anna from Frozen. I like it so much because it is their utter strangeness that somehow makes them compatible. Anna imagines in For The First Time In Forever, “I suddenly see him standing there, a beautiful stranger tall and fair.” And yet, this is their first interaction together:


Anna is someone who grew up in a castle. Kristoff is practically homeless. Anna bursts into song at the mere thought of social interaction. Kristoff would rather make imaginary talk to his reindeer friend, Sven. On the surface, it seems like it just wasn’t meant to be, especially with the presence of someone like Hans in the screenplay, but I think many of us wanted Kristoff + Anna more than Hans + Anna. It goes to show that there really isn’t a formula for successful matching when it comes to relationships. Chemistry between two people is largely unexplained, and is something that is discovered more than something that can be predicted.

3. Love Isn’t Always Easy

I’m going to go to animals for this one. Lady and the Tramp is the classic star crossed lovers type of story where there are external pressures to break the two lovers apart. While Shakespeare preferred for his tale to end as a tragedy, Disney writes in a happy ending for the kids, as the noble-hearted but poor Tramp becomes accepted into the Lady’s life and her privileged family.


There are wild similarities between this story and the one to be found in Aladdin, and I think I like both of these relationships because the couples actually fight with each other. The Lady dog becomes insecure after the He’s A Tramp number when she figures out about the Tramp’s long history of past girlfriends. Jasmine gets angry at Aladdin when she figures out Aladdin has been putting up an act as Prince Ali. It goes to show that the path to the typical happily ever after ending doesn’t always need to be sparking clean, not even in a Disney movie, because that’s just not how love works.

2. Love Comes In Many Different Forms

This one is pretty easy to write about, as there are many acts of love that can be found in Disney movies. Whether its Ariel taking a chance and swapping fins for feet or Prince Naveen giving up his dream to be with Tiana in order to make her restaurant become a reality, I think Disney movies highlight the importance of action over words when it comes to communicating love to someone.


Maybe the most exemplifying of this is the Beast’s decision to let Belle go tend to her father with the rose wilting away on the night he was going to tell Belle how he feels about her. Without the Beast knowing, he did tell Belle that he loves her, but without ever actually saying those words. While love can take on many different forms, I think Disney movies have a good understanding that they are all rooted in self-sacrifice for the greater happiness of their partner or the relationship. Who knew children’s movies could have such good messages to tell about their future love lives?

1. Love Is Magic

If there is any message to get out of a Disney movie, I think it’s this one. Love is magic.


Ever since Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the power of love has always rivaled the power of witchcraft or evil spells in Disney films. It has the power to lift someone from eternal sleep. It has the power to revive people back into life. It has the power to return people into their original form, or perhaps a new form. To me, these are just cinematic dramatizations of the feeling you get from love. Something that breathes life into you. Something that makes you feel invincible. Something that brings out who you really are, or who you want/were meant to become. Love is so precious that it’s satisfying enough to be the ultimate closer to every single one of Disney’s princess movies, and yet we stay put in the movie theater in spite of this level of predictability. I think it’s because we all connect with the search for “the one,” which wouldn’t be able to hold ninety minutes of our attention if we didn’t think it was ultimately worth it. Disney keeps me believing in love.



12 thoughts on “Animation Review Part Eleven | What Disney Taught Me About Love

  1. This is a great post. I’m tired about how Disney portrays love that isn’t “realistic.” I don’t think that’s the case at all! And I do like the idea of love at first sight. Sure, it doesn’t always work, but sometimes it does and why not fantasize about that through movies? When I first met my husband I knew within a week that there was something super special there and we would be together for a long time. And here we are almost 8 years later! Sometimes you just know 🙂

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