Be wary of anyone who tells you that such-and-such an art form (or anything else) is dead. People like to make pronouncements about the changing of the guard and the story is a better one when the old guard isn't just going off-duty but is actually dead. The new may push out the old, but that's not the same as pushing it over a cliff. People are very happy to tell you that traditional animation is dead and gone, that the style of computer animation brought to us by Pixar and others has all but eliminated the original sort. Though it is certainly more in vogue than traditional animation, CG has not replaced it entirely, and who better to show us that – and the power traditional animation still wields – than the company who brought us the first animated feature, Disney.
Hitting store shelves this week on DVD and Blu-ray is Disney's return to traditional animation, The Princess and the Frog. Their latest tale which, hopefully, will help usher in a third golden age for the studio.
The Princess and the Frog, as Disney was oh-so-happy to point out in the myriad of promos that arrived in the months leading up to the film's theatrical release, takes the traditional story of the prince being turned into a frog only to become a prince again via the kiss of a princess on its head. In this film, the lead character, Tiana (voiced by Anika Noni Rose), is not a princess, but rather a strictly working class woman who holds down two waitress jobs in order to try and save enough money so that she can open a restaurant of her own. Tiana, an African-American woman, lives in Jazz Age New Orleans and has the deck heavily stacked against her, not that she's willing to let a little thing like adversity get in the way of her – and her now deceased father's – dream.
What does get into her way though is Prince Naveen (voiced by Bruno Campos) of Maldonia, a carefree ladies' man with a love of jazz and a severe dislike of hard work. Naveen, newly arrived in New Orleans, ends up getting taken in by the evil Dr. Facilier (voiced by Keith David), who ends up turning him into a frog and his valet into Naveen. Mistaking Tiana, who was at a costume party, for a princess, Naveen gets a kiss from her hoping that it will turn him back into a prince only to have her end up a frog as well.