The difficult princesses: Animating female characters is harder, says Disney boss, because of their 'range of emotions'
Susie Mesure writes interviews, news and features for the Independent on Sunday, Independent and i, and has done for the last ten years or so give or take two lengthy maternity leaves. She is interested in just about any topic, especially anything Scandinavian, food, or consumer-orientated, and used to be the Independent’s Retail Correspondent
Sunday 13 October 2013
With more than 75 years of cartoon history under its belt, you'd think that Disney would have nailed the animation of its heroines. But you would be wrong. It turns out that all those princesses are the cinematic giant's ultimate bugbear, and it's all down to those pesky XX chromosomes. Women, you see, are just too emotional to capture as cartoons. Or at least that's what Disney's head animator Lino DiSalvo thinks.
While Disney was congratulating itself for coming up with a two-princess plotline for its new fairy tale Frozen (double the princesses equals double the amount of money it can make from merchandise), Mr DiSalvo was cursing his bad luck, as he confessed to the online blog Fan Voice.
He admitted he found drawing heroines "really difficult". He said: "Historically speaking, animating female characters is really, really difficult, because they have to go through these range of emotions."
His troubles were twofold in Frozen, which is based on Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen, featuring two sisters. Identically slim-waisted with identically small button noses and identical rosebud mouths, the two are distinguished only by their hair shades: red for Anna and wintry blond for Elsa. "Having them both in the scene and look very different if they're echoing the same expression [was really tough]," he told the blog's Jenna Busch.
It is the second time this year that Disney has prompted a storm over its princesses. The movie giant had to back down after it sexed-up Merida, the heroine of the movie Brave, after protests by parents.
Mr DiSalvo's claims are "complete rubbish", Joanna Quinn, an Oscar-nominated animator, said. "It's not at all hard to draw women showing emotions," she said. "The only challenge is the notion of beauty. It's really hard to inject lots of emotion because you're always trying to keep them [as] this sort of shiny, lovely character. I am looking for strong female characters that are not always gorgeous"
Professor Helen Wheatley, a University of Warwick TV and film studies expert, said she thought male Disney characters were too simplistic – and therefore easier to portray – and "far less emotionally interesting" than female ones. Professor Wheatley said that she talked to her two children about the pros and cons of Disney characters. "Snow White, although she's brave – she goes off into the woods on her own – has to be rescued. Why do girls always have to be rescued? Of course they don't."
In a statement, Disney said: "Animation is an intricate and complex art form. These comments were recklessly taken out of context. As part of a round-table discussion, the animator was describing some technical aspects of CG animation and not making a general comment on animating females versus males or other characters."
TVEnough to make ardent arachnophobes think twice
Will explain back story to fictional kingdom Westeros
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 2015 General Election: Green party will not appear in TV debate alongside Ukip – says BBC
- 2 Canadian actor punched in face after 'Islamophobia' experiment goes wrong in wake of Ottawa shooting
- 3 Topshop at centre of row over body image as 'shocking' skinny mannequin photo goes viral
- 4 Kentucky gang rape: 15-year-old boy left in critical condition after sexual attack by group at party
- 5 Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
This is what a film sex scene actually looks like on set (mostly awkward)
Cumberbacklash: Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange riles Marvel fans
Downton Abbey season 5 episode 6 - review: Thomas and Lady Edith show sad signs of the times
Halloween 2014: The scariest movies to watch on Netflix
No Black Widow or Hulk films: Why Marvel fans are not getting what they want
Pope Francis declares evolution and Big Bang theory are real and God is not 'a magician with a magic wand'
Huge surge in Ukip support after EU funding row, according to new poll
Ukip ‘exploiting grooming scandal’ to secure party’s first police chief
Nigel Farage: 'There’s nothing wrong with white people blacking up'
Muslims, immigration and teenage pregnancy: British people are ignorant about almost everything
Nigel Farage and Frankie Boyle clash over Andrew Lawrence's 'Mock the Week' criticism