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The Disney Princess: A Celebration Of Art & Creativity by Charles Solomon (book review).

December 1, 2020 | By | Reply More

When you look at Disney’s early animation features, the common denominator for their most successful is them all having female leads, often a motherless princess. Author Charles Solomon also points out that mothers in the days of fairy tales often died young and step-mothers were pretty common.

The Disney Princess: A Celebration of Art and Creativity by Charles Solomon.
© Chronicle Books, 2020. Price: £40.00.

What makes this book particularly important that for each of its twelve chapters, you get the history of each lead female character with all the designs that led up to the ones we are familiar with. Snow White was nearer to Betty Boop before they made her more and more feminine. There is also a look at the source history of each fairy tale, often going back much further than any European source and next to deity pantheon mythologies, were pretty common centuries back as early fiction.

No wonder where the Disney company did a resurgence in animation, looking at the three princess based films from Walt’s day making money, they chose that way for the other nine characters from Aurora ‘The Little Mermaid’ (1989) to Moana in…well ‘Moana’ (2016). The various princesses coming from all nationalities as they appear to be working their way around the world.

The Disney Princess: A Celebration of Art and Creativity by Charles Solomon.
© Chronicle Books, 2020. Price: £40.00.

The full list in order: Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora, Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, Pocahontas, Mulan, Tiana, Rapunzel, Merida and Moana. Switch into geek mode and wonder who was missed out and immediately ‘Frozen’ (2013) comes to mind, more so as it has two princesses. Oddly, no one at Disney has considered doing an animal version of a princess, although I should point out the vixen in ‘Robin Hood’ (1973) was only a maid and not royalty.

Even so, if you didn’t know the history of Disney animation films, this can seem a little top heavy princess-wise and forgetting that they also did a lot of other animated films in the same period. It might be worthwhile Chronicle Books considering doing similar themed books on other types of characters Disney have done to bring things into perspective.

The Disney Princess: A Celebration of Art and Creativity by Charles Solomon.
© Chronicle Books, 2020. Price: £40.00.

Don’t think I’m under-estimating the quality of this book. The development sketches of all these characters will certainly act as lessons in design and many of them, especially with the first three films, really rare. The designers were well aware that they had to make each difference from each other, keeping elements of realism but also ease of animation. The latter films going digital had to wait for the hair problems to catch up with them and then went big time going curly.

Although I haven’t seen all the films, I was impressed with what I saw here. Although some of it might be beyond your sprogs, the art is large and varied enough to also keep them amused.

GF Willmetts

November 2020

(pub: Chronicle Books, 2020. 240 page illustrated medium hardback. Price: £40.00 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-4521-5911-9)

check out website: www.chroniclebooks.com

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Category: Illustration, Movie books

About the Author ()

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 15 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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