Heroines with a Difference
Gone are the days when female characters in animated movies served purely decorative purposes and were little more than damsels in distress perpetually waiting to be rescued by Prince Charming.
Today’s animated movies feature strong female characters who are as intrepid and fierce as their male counterparts. Here are four animated movie heroines that break the mold in more ways than one.
Esmerelda (The Hunchback of Notre Dame)
Esmerelda is the beautiful, free-spirited gypsy girl who is loved and hated by her fellow Parisians in equal measure. Men love her for her dark enticing looks and innocent charm and she has three men – the deformed foundling Quasimodo, the gallant player Phoebus and the lecherous Claude Frollo – eating their hearts out for her.
Despite her obvious innocence, Esmerelda is branded a witch and nearly burnt at the stake (this being fifteenth century Paris after all!) What makes this sultry gypsy so attractive is her mysterious past (no one knows who her parents are) and enigmatic present (is she really in cahoots with the devil or just an innocent victim of prejudice?)
She is a genuinely good character who must contend with racism, accusations of witchcraft and male lechery while trying to eke out a meager living as a street dancer. It’s hard not to fall in love with Esmerelda!
Astrid (How to Train your Dragon)
This tough teenage girl can give many a battle-hardened Viking a run for his money with her dedication and determination to be the star pupil and, eventually, one of the best dragon trainers in the academy.
Astrid is strikingly beautiful, but endowed with a strong personality that makes her hard to approach or impress. She starts out as Hiccup’s main rival but eventually becomes his girlfriend and main love interest. Her initial disapproval of the friendship between Hiccup and Toothless changes with time and soon she becomes an enthusiastic supporter of his dragon training project.
Unlike conventional female leads in animation, Astrid is blessed with strength, exceptional fighting skills, intelligence and great agility, making her a worthy template for future heroines.
You’ve heard of brave warriors setting off on epic quests for love, God or family; now meet a heroine who embarks on a journey to free her kingdom from the curse of eternal winter and reunite with her sister who whose eerie powers have unleashed the curse in the first place.
Anna is not your average animation heroine – she’s short on gracefulness and high on daring; she’s far too busy enjoying her reckless adventure to pay much heed to mundane things like caution and prudence. In this, she is assisted by a rugged mountaineer and his tame reindeer and together, the trio encounters a comic snowman, mystical trolls and all kinds of magical twists and turns throughout the plot.
Anna gives young audiences a welcome break from the insipid eyelash-fluttering animation heroines of yore.
Directed by: Robert Stromberg
The eponymous protagonist of Disney’s blockbuster animation movie turns the tale of Sleeping Beauty on its head to give us new insights into a much-misunderstood and oft-reviled character – the evil fairy who puts a curse on the innocent princess that can only be revoked by true love’s kiss.
Maleficent starts life as a benevolent fairy who guards her forest kingdom but ruthless betrayal turns her heart into stone and nothing but relentless revenge can give her peace. But the innocence and vulnerability of Princess Aurora arouses Maleficent’s instinctive goodness and the evil fairy tries her best to revoke the implacable curse but to no avail.
If you love spirited animation heroines more than the saccharine sweet ones, you’ll definitely enjoy these movies!
George Schalter loves being a dad. He and his wife share the joys and responsibilities of bringing up their two children. As believers of good all round education, they spend a lot of time playing with their children and spending time outdoors. As George is the writer in the family, he blogs at Educational Kids Games. You can also find George on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.