Aurora

Next up is Aurora, the third member of my bottom 3 Disney Princesses. After I’m done with her there’s only “I kind of dislike this character” “I’m indifferent to this character” and “I like this character” princesses left, so hopefully the following character reviews will be less whiney.

Some screen shots from disneyscreencaps.com, others from google (because disneyscreencaps removed its Disney content before I was done. Where am I now going to get my HD screen shots?).

Who she is

Aurora is the princess from Sleeping Beauty. When she was a baby  an evil sorceress cursed her to prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and die on her 16th birthday. A fairy godmother changed the spell from death into a deep sleep, and a true love’s kiss would wake her up. The king and queen sent her to live with the fairy godmothers to be safe. Once she’s grown up and her 16th birthday approaches she meets the guy from her dream, and the two fall in love. Unfortunately for her she’s expected to marry a prince. Then despite the precautions she pricks her finger anyway, and then it’s up to her boyfriend and the fairy godmothers to save the day.

auroraCry

Appearance

Aurora was given the gift of beauty, and she lives up to that. For example Belle and Snow White are celebrated as the hottest women in the vicinity and their supposedly attractive looks are a plot point, but it kind of falls flat to me when I can’t find them that pretty at all. With Aurora, however, I find her face to be possibly the prettiest Disney face ever. It still is pretty generic, but something about her sharp features just works for me.

auroraFace

Unsurprisingly the merchandise sticks with the pink dress, which is a shame since I like the blue one better. But in the defence of the pink dress, it at least gives her an unique colour since with Ariel being mostly marketed in the nonexistent green dress there are no other pink characters, while there are plenty of different shades of blue. Her hair colour in the movie is a lot better than the stupidly bright yellow from the merchandise though.

Aurora has to share the rose theme with Belle, and if Belle gets the rose Aurora is given a spindle instead. This always feels very off to me, because in Finnish there is the word ‘rose’ in her name so associating someone else with a rose and not her throws me off guard.

I really like Aurora’s wardrobe. She manages to squeeze some outfit changes in the movie’s short timeframe, and I think all of them are pretty good. Her peasant outfit is one of my favourite Disney outfits overall, it has nice down-to-earth colours and a simple yet memorable design. The cape apparently wasn’t very memorable because I totally forgot its existence, but the hood resembling a Christmas elf’s hat is pretty cute. Her princess dress is one of my favourite Disney Princess dress designs as well, and the blue one looks quite pretty. I’m no fan of pink so the pink version doesn’t interest me too much, but luckily I can just ignore it as a palette swap of the more beautiful variant. And the reason for the colour changes is pretty funny too.

auroraOutfits

Redesigns didn’t treat Aurora as badly as many other Disney Princesses, and she’s remained largely unchanged. Apart from the obligatory bling-bling only the collar of the dress is different, and I don’t think the new one looks bad at all (not that I disliked the old one either). The hair got worse though, it doesn’t look nearly as flowy and bouncy as the old one did.

auroraRedesign

Why I do like her

Aurora looks pretty.

Why I don’ like her

Aurora is the most pathetic excuse of a main character I’ve ever seen. If she’s even supposed to be the main character to begin with anyway, if we’re supposed to view the three fairies as the main characters and her as a walking prop she’s not that bad, But Disney surely likes to market her as if she’s somehow an important character as a person, so I’ll treat her as the lead.

I didn’t see Sleeping Beauty as a kid, so when I started watching it when I was 18 or something I didn’t really know what to expect (or okay, everyone knows the story, but the way it was told was unclear to me). Because Aurora is always marketed as one of the central Disney Princesses and her name is on the title, I kind of expected her to be somehow important. So for the whole movie I waited, and waited, and waited her to do something of importance. Aaaand then the movie ended. Cue lots of disbelief and annoyance.

auroraShocked

And that is my problem with Aurora, she doesn’t really do anything relevant to the plot, and almost all of her very limited screentime is just talking about her boyfriend. From what I see, she doesn’t do a single conscious decision that affects the plot in any way. You could pretty much replace her with an inanimate object and very little about the plot would have to be changed (which is an insult to inanimate objects because the One Ring at least has way more agenda in Lord of the Rings than what Aurora can manage).

There are plenty of situations where Aurora could have taken the initiative, but she doesn’t. Such as, when she meets the prince for the first time (outside a dream…) it’s the prince who comes to speak with her, she has no idea he’s around. Or do we see how Aurora makes the prince fall in love with her? Nope, it was in this amazing offscreen dream. When she’s confronted by the fact that she’s already betrothed to someone else, she protests a little, and… goes with the plan anyway, and nothing about what she does or wants changes the fairies’ plan in any way. During the famous finger-pricking scene she’s under a spell, so even that’s not something she decided to do herself. And after that she does absolutely nothing, even if there’s still plenty of movie left.

Criticism against the three oldest princesses for being too passive seems to be most commonly countered with “You just want everyone to be warriors like Mulan, that is sexist!” or the like, which to me is a pretty bad strawman argument. Aurora doesn’t have to slay the dragon or give a feminist speech about her right to marry whoever she wants to be an interesting character, there are tons of other ways for her to take part in the plot that don’t involve physical feats or expressing modern feminist values. Can’t she, for example, show mental strength by resisting Malecifent’s spell for just enough to buy the other good guys enough time to do something else? Or have a prophetic dream that helps the good guys prepare? Or find a shortcut in the forest? Belle for example finds plenty of ways to move the plot with her inner strength.

Aurora’s behaviour in regards to the romance makes her look like a pretty shallow character in my eyes. Okay, nothing wrong with having a crush on someone, but that’s all we ever see her to do. When she’s alone she sings about the guy in her dreams, then she meets the guy, then she’s upset because she won’t get the guy, and then she gets the guy anyway and dances with him to their happily ever after. Aaaand that’s pretty much all there is to her screen time, there’s very little character in her outside wanting a man.

auroraEpicLoveStory

One of the common complaints I see about Aurora is how she has no personality, to which a common comeback is that sure she has, she’s elegant, graceful, shy around strangers etc. I agree that she does have a personality; even I can think of a lot of stuff to characterise her (dreamy, nice and polite to her “aunts”, obedient, weak-willed, friendly to animals, playful…). On the other hand, however, the accusation that a fictive character doesn’t have a personality doesn’t make much sense to me in the first place, because you can squeeze out a personality description almost out of anything.

For example, let’s say that a character was invited to a huge party. If they eagerly go they’re sociable, if they want to stay at home they’re introverted, if they go but don’t like it you can say they’re insecure and trying to please others, if they go without making a fuss about it they’re polite for accepting the invitation even if they’re not that interested… No matter how a character reacts to something, you can think up some part of their personality. But just because you can list a bunch of personality traits isn’t enough for me, what matters is what you do with them. And that’s where Aurora doesn’t fare too well.

Take the Little Mermaid for example, Ariel’s curiosity, desire to explore the ground above and her crush on some guy start the plot. Or in the Beauty and the Beast Belle’s caring heart and ability to see inner beauty are kind of important in the finale. What would change if Aurora was clumsy instead elegant? I dare to say that not much. Her only traits I could say to have any plot relevance have to do with obedience or not being strong-willed, since she just does what the other characters want and doesn’t cause any surprise turns in their plans by behaving in an unexpected way. Which isn’t exactly flattering if her plot relevance amounts to not doing anything on her own.

auroraRandom

From my point of view, elaborate descriptions about Aurora’s personality and traits come across as ‘cherry picking’ and only listing marginal things that can be true but they’re blown out of proportion, while failing to mention stuff that I see to be 90% of her character. Like, I’m thinking about a character who accepts themselves the way they are, knows their own strengths and plays to them, and is a natural leader. What a great role model! I’m of course talking about everyone’s favourite guy, no one’s fabulous like Gaston! While my description wasn’t exactly false, I still wouldn’t call it an accurate description of him, since there’s no mention of his less than stellar properties. Which I find far more notable than what I listed.

One thing she gets praised about is her obedience, i.e. putting others before herself and accepting her princess responsibilities rather than running off with the dude she just met. This actually sounds extremely good to me in theory; I’m so fed up with every other American animated movie having the moral “Follow your heart! Be yourself! You’re special! If it’s about your dream, you must do everything to pursue it! Nobody is ever allowed to tell you what you’re supposed to do or be! It’s all about you!” so the opposite approach would be very welcome. This, however, doesn’t really work at all when her decision to “accept” her responsibility looks like this:

auroraMirror

Also, her solution to the surprise betrothal (start crying instantly) makes her look pretty weak-willed and spineless. Okay, I get that she’s a teenager who just had her entire life turn upside down, so I can’t really expect instantly being able to ‘deal with it’ being the only acceptable solution, but what we get instead doesn’t earn her my praise either. If her personality was different you could have a great character moment here, with her being sad for a moment, but then changing to a defiant expression, saying “this is my duty, and I will fulfil it” and standing up with her back straight. Man, would that have been cool! And she’d get her happy ending anyway, with her boyfriend turning out to be the prince and all that.

One of the defences I see for her is that “You can’t blame Aurora, the filmmakers gave her so little screen time that she didn’t get a chance to shine“. I find it a pretty silly argument, by that logic you could never criticise any character ever because it’s not as if fictive characters can affect what they do, it’s always the writers who decide that. Besides, there are plenty of characters who manage to cram meaningful characterisation in a lot shorter time, so I don’t see why Aurora should get a pass at failing at it.

Another common defence for her that makes a bit more sense to me is “She was sleeping, it’s not like she could have done anything”. Fair enough, the enchanted sleep kind of is the “thing” in Sleeping Beauty, and removing it would be pretty dumb. However, how about have her do something useful before falling asleep? Or even after it, though that would require a lot more changes to the plot.

Disney likes to market the scene where the prince kisses Aurora and she wakes up. I can’t find that scene pretty at all because of Aurora’s eyes looking totally creepy, it’s the Uncanny Valley effect I believe.

auroraCreepy

For someone with the gift of song her signing voice is unbearable to me. I guess it was in at the time the movie was made, but as for me I will remember to hit the fast-forward button whenever she starts singing if I ever watch the film again.

Despite the fact that I can think of very few positive things to say about Aurora, she’s still not my least favourite Disney Princess ever. That spot belongs to Belle; while I was able to write about some things I do like about Belle, overall she annoys me a lot more. Because in Aurora’s case my problems with her are about how she’s so nonexistant in her own story, but in this case it works somehow in her favour in that at least I don’t have to sit through a song number that forces the fact that she’s the prettiest, smartest, most progressive unique snowflake there’s ever been down my throat. Hating on Aurora is like hating the dust under my bed; it’s just not very exciting.

Palace Pets

Aurora gets two Palace Pets, a pony named Bloom and a cat named Beauty. Aurora’s pets are heavily pink, and while with the other Palace Pets the forced inclusion of pink in many of the designs that would be a lot better off without it, at least in Aurora’s case it’s not as tacked on since she’s primarily marketed with the pink colour herself.

auroraPets

I hate the name Bloom because it reminds me of the lead of Winx Club who I remember hating for reasons I’ve forgotten by now, but let’s not hold it against this pony. Not that it helps it much, it looks pretty bad anyway. Those bedroom eyes on an animal still creep me out… While I’m no fan of pink I have to admit that this one benefits from its colourscheme, the colours go well enough together that the unnecessary accessories don’t stand out as badly as with many of the other Palace Pets.

Then the cat. Is that what a cat’s tail looks like? That is not what  a cat’s tail looks like. It reminds me of a squirrel. Why are there no squirrels in Palace Pets anyway, squirrels are awesome! Also, the cat loves sleeping. Get it, the cat of the Sleeping Beauty loves sleeping (and it’s named Beauty)! Ohoho, that sure was a clever idea. But since I’m a cat person, any cat is at an advantage (and the design for this one isn’t as busy as some of the others pets), I’m inclined to place this one at the better end of Palace Pets. I’d probably find the soft curly tail pretty cute anyway if it wasn’t, you know, attached to a cat where it makes no sense.

Gallery

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Pixiv links that require a Pixiv account to be viewed properly:

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4 Responses to “Aurora”

  1. anonymous Says:

    I agree with you! She is very pretty but everything else… ugh.

  2. KristiS Says:

    Yes, she is beautiful indeed.
    However, I always felt that because of her lack of actions, we can imagine how she used to act and live. And for her constant crying, I feel like she gets a pass. To find out that you must one day govern and rule an entire kingdom when you’ve barley interacted with anyone beyond your ‘family’ your whole life, must be overwhelming.
    Either way, yeah, she’s gorgeous. ❤

    • Hapuriainen Says:

      I’m not giving Aurora a pass, because all of the other Disney Princesses go through hardships, but they manage to deal with it a lot better or at least do something interesting to compensate for the lack of action. Her reaction may be realistic and understandable, but that doesn’t automatically make her a character I’d want to watch if nothing ever comes out of it.

  3. Jo Says:

    lol. Heroines don’t need to be buttkicking Mary Sues as you might prefer to be good characters. she’s responsible, romantic, playful, introspective, not very assertive- that is a personality. I wish people actually judged characters beyond face value.

    you want pathetic, look at Elsa, Maria from The Book of Life or Queen Sue Rapunzel.

    as for her voice, I guess it’s a matter of taste but if you find a classically trained operatic voice of an angel bad, I can’t imagine what you’d consider good. Objectively, her voice is nice, even if not everyone prefers the opera style. which is a shame, everyone seems to like the wailing Beyonce type now.

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