By Lydia Jensen
Image Source: Mattel & Mainframe Entertainment
Barbie in the Twelve Dancing Princesses, directed by Greg Richardson and with music performed by the Czech Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra, is an animated movie that was released in 2006. Starring Barbie (voiced by Kelly Sheridan) as Genevieve, the story (based on “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” by The Brothers Grimm), follows the lives of twelve royal sisters, each of whom love to dance. Within the castle they live in, they are seen as very rambunctious, and as they get older, it begins to cause problems for their widowed father, King Randolph (voiced by Christopher Gaze).
The princesses, keeping the memory of their mother, share a love of ballet shoes and music, while still retaining their individuality and unique senses of style. This begins to change, however, when they are met with their fathers cousin, Rowena (voiced by Catherine O’Hara), who seeks to destroy their individuality by turning them into what she believes are perfect princesses.
Barbie movies are criminally underrated. The use of Barbie as a main character in each movie is certainly the main factor of this, but there’s also a general societal notion that shows and movies directed towards kids or with that demographic in mind are below criticism, or not to be taken seriously. But with the rise of Gen-Z nostalgia that can be seen on Tik-Tok, youtube, and in memes in general, people need to start realizing that even shows like The Backyardigans, (a toddler-children’s tv show that aired on Nickelodeon), can introduce kids to anything from different styles of music to interesting character archetypes each episode, and their exposure to meaningful plots and quality driven dialogue and music can impact the way those generations of kids approach not only culture and their own relationship to the world around them, but life in general.
We need more shows and movies that take themselves seriously, and expose children to meaningful characters and themes that will plant seeds of empathy, growth, and harbor themes that can teach them valuable lessons and expose them to meaningful experiences.
These movies and shows don’t need to be completely dramatic or groundbreaking, they can still be simple enough for kids to understand, and should be. But the new era of children’s cartoons and movies that put effort into their plots and write well developed and diverse (in all aspects) characters are more than enough.
This movie is a tale about conformity, escapism, family, and the lengths people will take to truly be themselves. With choreography by Peter Martins, the dancing scenes play out beautifully, even with the limited animation technology that they had at the time. The graphics are a bit of an eyesore at first to anyone who loves the sleek 4k moderness of animated movies today, but as the movie progresses, its relevance fades as you begin to experience its charm.
The pacing and overall story is very well done, and could easily keep the attention of parents, teens, and kids alike. The plot has twists and turns, with many points being unraveled during the course of the movie. The cinematography is subtle, but it invokes the same elements of foreshadowing and motion that can be understandable to all ages, without being extremely in-your-face. The colors are done beautifully, and reflect shifts in the plot as well as the princesses’ loss of their individual identities.
Overall, this movie is definitely worth a watch. Like many barbie movies, it has a comforting air about it, letting you enjoy a drama-full plot without triggering elements or lazy writing. In a way, it’s a bit like a chick flick: you know what’s probably going to happen, but the journey it takes you on is still warm, exciting, and full of entertainment.