Once again, Disney has taken a classic fairy tale, The Princess and the Frog, and turned it into a masterpiece. The story is better than the original, the music is very catchy, and the animation is superb. No wonder audiences applaud when this movie is over. If that was all that could be said about the film, it would be worth the price of admission. However, inside The Princess and the Frog is a hidden treasure of another story..a much "Larger Story". Follow along and see where it leads.
The story begins in the Heavenlies with little lights coming down from a star to earth. A loving father gives his daughter the dream of a place to exercise her unique gift. A gift that will draw people from all walks of life together. Hard work will be necessary, but the important thing is love. The father and daughter share the dream; it will be their dream created and sustained by their love.
Fast forward. The little girl, Tiana, is now all grown up. Separated from her father by death, she is working hard to make the dream come true on her own. She saves every penny and doesn't have time for dancing unlike the cool, handsome Prince Naveen. He, too, is cut off from his father. Rather than work, he plans to marry for money, so he can continue to party, play, and dance.
Two beautiful young people separated from their fathers are easy prey for Dr. Faclier. He is just a pawn for the snake (notice the shadow) that controls him. He offers to make it easy (facilitate) for Naveen to get the "green" easy life he wants. When Naveen agrees, he is transformed into something less than human.a frog.
Naveen, the frog, promises to make it easy for Tiana to get the life she wants. All she has to do is kiss him. She buys into the "easy" lie and is transformed into something less than human herself..another frog. Both have gone for the green of money in order to be self sufficient and now both are green and vulnerable to all sorts of dangers.
Why didn't the kiss work? Well, confession immediately follows. "I'm not a princess.I'm a waitress. I'm broke, I have no riches. I only intend to be rich again when I marry for money". And so, with Tiana working pushing the raft and Naveen playing his makeshift ukulele, they set out on a journey together.
Tiana and Naveen want to be human again. They want the curse broken. Their new found friend, Louis the alligator, tells them about Mama Odie, but he really can't lead them to the mysterious place where Mama Odie lives. They need someone who knows the way - a guide, a counselor, a friend. The lightening bug, Ray, fits the bill. He introduces them to others like himself who have the light and together they make a beautiful path through the dark swamp to find Mama Odie. Ray also introduces Tiana and Naveen to his love, Evangeline, and as he sings about her, a strange thing begins to happen. Naveen learns to work and help Tiana and Tiana learns to take time to dance with Naveen. With the light of Evangeline, a sparkle comes into their eyes and softness into their hearts.
What Naveen is beginning to understand though is that true love is worth the sacrifice. He is willing to give up his new found love for Tiana and marry for money if it will buy her dream. Tiana learns from Ray (who literally gives up his life for both of them) that Naveen loves her. She, in turn, is willing to sacrifice her dream and remain a frog. Shadow Man's final temptation fails when Tiana digs a little deeper and remembers what was most true of her father..not the dream, but his love.
This is too much for the Shadow Man (Faclier's real name). He sends out even more powerful shadows - shadows from the other side. These demons almost succeed in snatching Naveen, but are blown away by none other than Mama Odie. A little lady with a powerful hand clapping Pentecostal song that tells Tiana and Naveen to "dig a little deeper" and find out who they are. They really don't understand the message of "open the window and let in the light". All they want is to be human again.
When the Shadow Man is delivered to his friends on the other side, Tiana and Naveen along with all the little lights take Ray's crushed body to the swamp for burial. That is where the greatest magic takes place. Ray goes into his grave a little light, but suddenly, he becomes a great light that shines on all the creatures. Ray is raised from the dead and revealed to be with Evangeline.
Tiana and Naveen are married by Mama Odie. In the darkest place the most glorious splendor breaks forth and gloriously transforms them into not just humans, but royal humans.
Tiana doesn't get her place. She gets something much more; she gets her palace. Far more glorious than the original design, it does exactly what her father told her it would. It brings people from all walks of life, which now includes the creatures, together in a whole new way.
When the window was opened and the light came in, the poor little girl found out who she really was - a beautiful princess. The philandering playboy found out he was truly a noble prince. Working and dancing together, they have a whole new adventure to be lived.
The movie ends where it began with Evangeline. And just what does Evangeline mean? It means "Good News" and comes from the word, Evangel. Evangel is the name of the four Gospels found in the New Testament - the "Large Story" - from which The Princess and the Frog is derived.
God the Father had a place, a creation that He made and loved. He placed His children there to work along side Him and share His dream. When they listened to the serpent and chose an "easy" way, a way of self sufficiency, they fell under a curse and became something less than they were originally created to be. The Father sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to be the light of the world. Jesus became the suffering servant who was crushed for the children's iniquity. However, death could not hold Him. Rising from the dead, He conquered all the shadows and demons and was anointed King over His new creation. He offers a place in His palace to all who will come and receive His gift of life. A gift that is greater than anyone could possibly dream.