Monday, January 25, 2016

Dialogue Count

So the Washington Post tallies up the lines in Disney Princess films, and ...

... In the classic three Disney princess films, women speak as much as, or more than the men. “Snow White” is about 50-50. “Cinderella” is 60-40. And in “Sleeping Beauty,” women deliver a whopping 71 percent of the dialogue. Though these were films created over 50 years ago, they give ample opportunity for women to have their voices heard. ...

Some of the trouble here is the underlying material, wouldn't you think? When you develop a property called Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and 7/8ths of the title characters are male, there are bound to be some men talking. (If Ms. White hadn't been chatting with all those animals, none of whom talked back, the ratio of dialogue would have been something other than 50/50.)

The reason that Sleeping Beauty has women delivering most of the lines is due to the fact that women dominate the story on which the movie is based. Because everybody in the story department, everyone directing, and the head of the studio, all of those people were of the male persuasion.

There's another issue: No matter who's talking, those first features have a LOT less dialogue than the specimens from the nineties and oughts. The early pictures were boarded rather than scripted, and everyone working on them had grown up on silent movies, where the projected images, not the voices squawking out of the loud speakers, carried the narrative.

The ONE thing different today? There are more women involved in the process of making animated features. Brenda Chapman was the story director on Beauty and the Beast and has directed multiple features since. There are now women writers and women board artists. That simply was not the case sixty and seventy years ago.

So progress might be slow and uneven, but there IS progress.


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