Suspended Animation #397
The bakers dozen official princesses in the Disney Princess Franchise are Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora (Sleeping Beauty), Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, Pocahontas, Mulan, Tiana, Rapunzel, Raya, Merida and Moana.
Technically, Pocahontas and Moana (who are just daughters of a chief) as well as Mulan are not actual princesses and Belle and Tiana are considered Princess Consorts or commoners who married into royalty.
Originally Esmeralda and Tinker Bell were part of the franchise but were dropped within a year because it was felt that they did not align with the brand.
Several official Disney princesses are missing from the franchise including Anna and Elsa from Frozen (2013) although most people just assume they are part of the group and they sometimes appear with the others but they have a successful and extensive brand just on their own.
The unofficial rules for the Disney franchise is that the princess must be the star of her own theatrical film, the film was successful at the box office (even Merida who is the least popular of the group has generated hundreds of million of dollars) and must be human and not an animal or insect (even though Tiana spends eighty percent of her film as a frog).
That is meant to help explain why several actual Disney princesses are missing including Ariel’s six older sisters: Attina, Alana, Adella, Aquata, Arista and Andrina as well as Ariel’s daughter Melody who only appeared in a straight-to-video sequel. .
Others like Maid Marian from Robin Hood and Nala from The Lion King and even Faline who marries Bambi who is the Prince of the Forest in Bambi are eliminated because they are animals.
Princess Vanellope von Schweetz from Wreck It Ralph and Sofia from Sofia the First are considered too young to be included.
However, one of the most prominently missing princesses appeared in a Disney animated feature that the Walt Disney Company would like to forget.
One of the abiding themes in many Disney animated films is the enormous growth of character that happens when two people of different cultures interact.
It is even more challenging when the white-haired warrior princess is over eight thousand years old as in the animated feature Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001) and her interaction is with a sheltered, bespectacled twenty-something cartographer and linguist named Milo Thatch in 1914.
When a wounded Milo lays unconscious in a darkened corner of the cavern, he I surrounded by Atlantean masked warriors who are about to kill him when their fierce leader stops them with “he doesn’t appear hostile”.
Milo awakens to find himself finds himself face-to-face with the intimidating leader who lifts her elaborate mask to reveal the beautiful tattooed visage of Princess Kida.
She is the daughter of Kashekim Nedakh, the King of Atlantis. At the end of the film with the death of her father, she becomes queen. Her fighting style incorporates aspects of Thai boxing and she wields a deadly Atlantean spear. Like the other Atlanteans she wears a blue crystal shard around her neck that can be used for healing and also provides a form of immortality.
The masks are a mixture of Polynesian and West African. Producer Don Hahn said, “”The fact that you can’t quite place it is a good thing. We didn’t want to do the Greco-Roman Atlantis. We didn’t want to do the Aquaman kind of version of it.
“We thought: Let’s take the idea that Atlantis the mother civilization. If it was a truly Tower-of-Babel advanced civilization, that meant its architecture, language and culture must have inspired all the other great cultures of the world. That was our beginning of taking Mayan, Cambodian and Indian architecture and devolving them almost into what Atlantis was like. The land of Atlantis, when viewed from a mountaintop resembles the temple structure of Angkor Wat.”
Composer James Newton Howard’s score for the film has been described as “quiet and mysterious” by one reviewer. However, Howard used chimes, flutes and a chorus on one of his favorite tracks, “Milo meets Kida”, to create what he said was “a feeling of cuteness and humor” for the moment. .
Cree Summer Francks, the original voice of Kida, remarked, “Milo annoys her a little bit at first and that fascinates her. Of course, that fascination leads to something much more.”
Francks has supplied the voices for several Disney animated feature film and television characters as well as voicing Kida in the 2003 sequel Milo’s Return where Kida is married to Milo. The sequel is stitched together from three episodes for a Disney television series Team Atlantis that was cancelled before it aired because the theatrical film did so poorly.
“Kida is strong willed and knows what she wants. She is tough but cute. Her words can seem harsh so you have to look at what’s behind her words. She has a playful side and it only comes out when she’s with Milo,” stated Kida’s supervising animator Randy Haycock.
Haycock was initially intimidated by Francks wild and unique personality but incorporated aspects of it into Kida. Kida’s name originates from a Kiowa girl’s name meaning “raising away the darkness.” According to Haycock Kida’s facial tattoos are meant to symbolize tears that Kida had at the loss of her mother.
According to Milo’s Journal, “Kida explained that the ritual branding of complex inked designs was an integral part of Atlantean culture. As among the tribes native to New Zealand, the number and arrangement of these permanent skin decorations was determined by physical, intellectual, artistic or cultural achievement. The hierarchy and explication of these emblematic citations appeared rich and complex.” Because they were too complex to animate, they disappear in the sequel.
The respect and affection between Kida and Milo continues to grow as she tours him through the bustling marketplace. They hesitantly share information about each other’s lives and it is clear that an emotional bond has been created during this colorful journey.
Concerned Kida hopes that this pre-occupied scholar can help unlock the mysteries of Atlantis’ past and perhaps save its future. Having Milo translate a sunken mural is the key to revealing the long lost secret.
As Kida and Milo unashamedly peel off their clothing to swim to a sunken mural, the film’s directors stated that the characters are at the same time symbolically peeling off emotional layers that make them more vulnerable to each other. Producer Hahn claims that this pivotal moment in the film not only reveals important information but firmly establishes the relationship.
Hahn pointed out that “When they are in the underwater dome air pocket, it forces the two of them together so that we just see two faces next to each other and the lighting gives it a nice romantic quality.”
“The exploration of the mural not only satisfies the necessary exposition of the Atlantean history but there is also an element of a sub-textual romance as they solve a mystery together,” added Director Kirk Wise.
Amusingly, when Kida appeared as a walk-around character in the Disney theme parks, she was clad in her elaborate queen costume because it felt that her skimpy and revealing princess outfit would be controversial to guests.
Disney fans have lobbied for Kida to be included in the Disney Princess Franchise but the Walt Disney Company hems and haws suggesting the film was not successful and that Kida is a supporting character like the mercenaries in the film. They now state the character just does not fit into the “Princess mythology”.