Thursday, September 11, 2014

Thursentary: Barbie as The Princess and the Pauper



Photo Credit: www.fanpop.com

Let’s be honest.

We want Barbie to be shallow. She is a great thing to complain about and she’s link bait for the news. Her body proportions are ridiculous, sometimes her merchandise is outrageous, and if you’ve watched Life in the Dreamhouse for more than four minutes, which I have, you know it’s darn pathetic.

But you know what?

Barbie also stars in my favorite princess movie. *

Barbie as The Princess and the Pauper. 2004. I don’t know when I watched this movie, I just know that “I am a Girl Like You” was stuck in my head for years, and I could not identify where it came from. You can imagine how thrilled I was when I finally found Princess in the Pauper—I was free!

And yet… I also learned it was so much more.

The Rundown

Erika and Anneliese are almost identical girls living two very different lives. Anneliese is the princess of a failing country and set to marry King Dominic, whose wealth will pull the kingdom out of debt, while Erika is an indentured servant who loves singing. Upon a chance meeting in town, Anneliese and Erika realize that but for their hair color and Anneliese’s birthmark, they could be twins. Before their friendship is allowed to progress, however, Anneliese is captured by her mother’s evil adviser, who plots to swindle the country from the queen and take Anneliese to be his bride. Erika is secreted to the castle to replace Anneliese until the true princess can be found. The princess and the pauper both have their freedom at stake—but even if their plan succeeds, their lives will never be the same again.

Why I Love, Love, Love It (Top 10 Edition)
[Spoilers!]

1. duty comes first :: During, “Free,” both Erika and Anneliese are tempted to leave behind their responsibilities and live independently. Ultimately they accept their current circumstances and decide that there is more substance to life than their own fantasies—one way or another, their lives will work for them. First song, and they establish a willingness to face the odds instead of wait for a prince to sweep them off their feet—booyah.

2. they embrace their identities :: One is a princess, one is a pauper, and yet they both appreciate and respect the other’s place in life.

3. they problem solve :: Anneliese and Erika are on their own; Erika is trapped as an imposter and Anneliese is captured in the woods, and they both have to deal with their problems themselves. Anneliese even gets turned away from her own castle!

4. the princess has responsibilities :: “To Be a Princess” is a good song, because it highlights both sides of the princess spectrum. Yes, a princess works, but she is also a symbol of her people, and that’s a challenging role in and of itself.

5. women rule the country :: Admittedly, in Anneliese’s mom’s case, not necessarily well, but women are in power and the only person who actually challenges that is the antagonist. Beyond that, the guys in the movie have no problem taking orders from women.

6. Erika actually lives out her dream :: Erika always longed to be a professional singer, and as soon as she is relieved of her indentures, she goes out and lives a little. She leaves behind the man she fell in love with. And then, after living a little, she concludes that sometimes freedom means choosing to stay. I love that.

7. Dominic is a bro :: He comes to marry a princess and falls in love with a pauper. This chick is not only a pauper, but she fakes her identity, gets arrested, spends time in prison, and ends up leaving him to follow her dreams—and he lets her. He waits, and when she has tasted freedom and found herself, she comes back to his open arms. Cue the awwwws.

[Editor’s Note: I’m not saying that Erika needed Dominic’s permission to go live her life, but I liked that it wasn’t a source of conflict. There wasn’t a “boo-hoo, I can’t live without you” scene; Dominic was cool with Erika’s choices, and I appreciate that.]

8. the kingdom is saved :: Anneliese finds viable source of income for her country so she will not have to depend on King Dominic, and she gets her guy in the process—no political problems necessary.

9. they seek their dreams :: They seek their dreams—Anneliese gets what she wants and Erika gets what she wants and neither one has to change her identity to achieve that.

10. the music :: I’ve mentioned the songs before, but what I have not mentioned is that I have them on my mp3 player. This music is empowering and amazing for someone who aged out of the intended audience over a decade ago. I even like the villain song!

There you have it. Proper romance, lovely characters, an excellent soundtrack, and a happy ending. What more could I possibly need?

4/5 Stars

Have you seen Princess and the Pauper? What did you think?

Flickr Credit: The Hamster Factor

*Bee tee dubs, The Princess Bride is really more of an action/adventure movie, so that doesn’t count for the purposes of this post.

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