• Maja Eskildsen Sindberg
4. term, English, Master (Master Programme)
This Master’s thesis asks the question of how Disney has depicted topics such as love, gender roles and female agency in both their animated and live action films. The data used for this paper were four animated films and the live action ones based on the same stories from 1950 to 2020: Cinderella 1950/Cinderella 2015, Sleeping Beauty 1959/ Maleficent 2014, Beauty and the Beast 1991/ Beauty and the Beast 2017 and Mulan 1998/ Mulan 2020. The thesis focuses on discovering similarities and changes within the films, as Disney reproduced their own animated content into live action ones, as well as looking further into what types of remakes the live action films were. The analysis was aided by Norman Fairclough’s critical discourse, Murray Smith’s concept of Structure of Sympathy, Thomas Leitch and Lisa Hill’s terminology on remakes and adaptions. Multimodality as a method was also included due to several modes having been utilised for this study, including colours, spoken and written words, films and online comments. Using these theories and methods, the paper examines how Disney portrays their princesses, princes, villains and overall concepts of love and gender. What this thesis found was that Disney’s characters have developed through time, as socio-cultural needs have changed in accordance with a constantly evolving society. As humans become progressively aware of dated ideologies, they transcend them in order to create new power structures more concerned with equal gender representation. Characters have become more three-dimensional and complex, which in turn makes them seem more human. Thus, deeming them more deserving of redemption and sympathy from the audience. Both the heroes and the villains have achieved this development in more than one of the live action films, and the idea of one’s ‘happily ever after’ being directly tied to the love of a man seems to fade into the background. Instead, Disney now seems to open up to other representations of love being in the forefront of their stories. True love, particularly the romantic, heterosexual kind, is still a major aspect of Disney’s storytelling, but the narratives in recent productions seem to suggest that this power structure may be changing. Lastly, this thesis discovered that the success of these live actions films was debatable, considering that audiences seem conflicted on whether or not they like these additions to the fictional world of Disney.

Publication date2 Jun 2021
Number of pages69
ID: 413480113