Three years ago, concept art to an unconfirmed Disney film started floating around the internet. The images were rumored to be for a new project—a 2D animated film based on the Hindu epic “Ramayana.”
Until 1998, Disney’s success grew from its adaptations of mostly Western-influenced folklore and mythology. Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, Pocahontas, Hercules, and even The Princess and the Frog were stories based on American or European literature. The only film inspired by Eastern literature is Mulan (1998), the woman warrior from ancient China.
Disney set one of its films in India before. I know some people think I’m talking about Aladdin (umm,perhaps my favorite racist movie?? So many problems, such great music!), but no. The Jungle Book was a vaguely interesting film about a feral Indian boy raised by wolves, and formed friendships with a bear and panther. The movie also was based on a book by a British guy born in colonial British India. So…not a real Indian fairy tale.
I don’t know what’s going on with the production of The Ramayana, or even if an Indian classic would translate well in the hands of Disney. But it would be nice to have more diversity in film animation, and to acknowledge there are timeless tales in every culture.
Plus, after seeing Princess Merida put off marriage in Brave, I’d like to see Hollywood’s interpretation of Sita taking control of her own happy ending.