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22 June 2011 @ 10:03 pm
Estimated Time Periods and Locations of the Disney Princesses  
There was a post a while back discussing when and where each of the Disney Princess films took place; I decided to look into it myself, and I might have an answer. Remember, this is all speculation on my part, and certain movies were rather difficult to place.

Snow White
Time Period: 1500's-1550's
I chose this time period based on the clothing worn by The Evil Queen, Snow White, and The Prince. While it looks "generic medieval" at first glance, the collars worn by TEQ and Snow White and Snow White's slashed sleeves are very reminiscent of early 1500's fashion, and The Prince's clothing looks like a less flashy variant of men's clothing at the time.
Location: The Low Countries
A lot of people place Snow White in Germany, or rather, where modern-day Germany is; before the 1800's, this area was home to many independent kingdoms loosely united under the Holy Roman Empire. I place it in the Low Countries (modern-day Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg) because of the clogs Snow White wears while she's a servant. It's still a Germanic region, so it's not that big a shift.

Cinderella
Time Period: 1850's-1880's
Once again, clothing played a factor. Drizella and Anastasia wear dresses with bustles, while Cinderella's dress was probably worn with a crinoline. I'm more inclined to believe the movie proper takes place during the 1870's-1880's, while the prologue where we see Cinderella's father meeting up with Lady Tremaine takes place during the 1850's-1860's. The Fairy Godmother might have been "behind the times", which would explain Cinderella's dress being from an earlier time period. Also, most of the men wear the military-style jackets as formal wear, which places the setting as very Victorian.
Location: Germany
The film can't take place in France, for what I hope are obvious reasons. Germany would not have been completely united at this point, so I picture the film taking place in some kingdom along the French-German border that got passed back and forth a lot.

Aurora
Time Period: 1400's-1500's
Philip has the line, "After all, this is the fourteenth century!", but the clothing is more similar to the early Renaissance fashions than those of the medieval fourteenth century. Let's just assume Philip/the script-writers meant the fifteenth century/1400's.
Location: Northern Italy
At this point in time, Italy would have been a bunch of independent countries, Northern Italy in particular. Blonde hair worn in a loose style and off-shoulder gowns were very popular in Northern Italy during this time. I picture Stefan's kingdom is in Northern Italy, and Hubert's kingdom is in southern Germany, with both countries bordering the Alps.

Ariel
Time Period: 1650's-1700's, 1830's-1840's/1890's-1900's
The first of many headaches. These are the time periods when huge poofy sleeves would have been in fashion. The late 1600's was The Golden Age of piracy and of sailing in general. The late 1800's/early 1900's was another important age in sailing.
Location: Portugal, Monaco
While watching the film, the scenery gave me the impression that it took place in Portugal. Portugal is a country on the Atlantic Ocean, it is a very warm place, it has a long history of sailing, and there is a variant of the name "Eric" there. And, during the late 1600's, it had recently regained its independence from Spain and was still a monarchy. Monaco is a tiny country between France and Italy situated along the Mediterranean. French is largely spoken there, followed by Italian, and it would be one of the few countries along the Mediterranean that was still a monarchy during the 1830's-1840's/1890's-1900's. Plus, it would explain why they have a French chef and an Italian maid.

Belle
Time Period: 1750-1795
Mainly from the clothing, once again. Especially the concept art.
Location: France
Obviously.

Jasmine
Time Period: Achaemenid Empire
Location: Agrabah
The Achaemenid Empire, a.k.a. The Persian Empire, stretched from the Indus Valley to Thrace and Macedon. It was a huge empire originating in modern-day Iran. I know the film takes place in an "Arabian" kingdom, but the clothing, buildings, and everything Jasmine is able to get away with points more toward Persian. The Persian Empire included parts of the Arabian Peninsula, so Agrabah could be a kingdom in that region. I chose this time period of Iranian history to make the scenes in Greece during "A Whole New World" and the crossover with Hercules possible. (I'm not going to bother with the other scenes during the "A Whole New World"; the time when the Sphinx of Giza was built and the time when fireworks were invented are thousands of years apart.)

Pocahontas
Time Period: 1607
Location: Jamestown, Virginia
Wow, that was easy! :)

Mulan
Time Period: Han Dynasty, Tang Dynasty
I wanted to pull my hair out after researching this. None of the major elements in the movie take place during the same dynasty--The Great Wall was started in the Qin Dynasty, the Huns/Xiongu were pushed back for the final time during the Han Dynasty, fireworks weren't invented until the Tang Dynasty, The Forbidden City wasn't built until the Ming Dynasty...plus there's footbinding to consider, and it wasn't introduced until the Tang Dynasty. I lean toward the Han Dynasty for the invasion of the Huns/Xiongu and the clothes, and the Tang Dynasty for actually having fireworks. Both ushered in times of great prosperity to China, so take your pick.
Location: China
Obviously.

Tiana
Time Period: 1916-1926
When Tiana and her mother get on the bus during the prologue, a man is reading a newspaper that has an announcement about Woodrow Wilson winning the presidency, which places it in 1916, and the film proper takes place ten years later.
Location: New Orleans, U.S.A.
Obviously.

Rapunzel
Time Period: 1795-1820's
There is concept art for Tangled that shows the late 1700's/early 1800's was the look that the filmmakers were going for, plus Regency-era fashion and its continuation would be very flattering on Rapunzel. Plus, Mozart has to exist and have reached popularity by the time the film starts.
Location: Northern Italy, Archduchy of Austria/Austrian Empire
Partly because of the names, partly because of the Mozart name-drop, but I picture Tangled taking place in a small country in Italy close to Austria, if not in Austria itself.

EDIT: Looking back on this, I really could have done a better job, especially on The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, and Tangled. TLM and Tangled appeared very generic European at first glance and I didn't have behind the scenes information to go off of when I made this post, so estimating time periods and locations for them was mostly a vague stab in the dark. Aladdin...Well, that glaring error was made possible by a combination of poor research on my part and the creators throwing anything remotely Middle Eastern together when making Aladdin. (Also, I don't think the creators realized that most of the places Aladdin and the gang visit in the original movie and the T.V. series existed LONG before the spread of Islam. And that the style of architecture used in the films and the series was from even later.)

Now that I've got more behind the scenes information and actually studied some Middle Eastern history, I plan to take another crack at this. I'll post each film separately and I'll be cross-posting to Tumblr. Hope to see you there!
 
 
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princesse des reveskirakirajenjen on June 23rd, 2011 05:53 am (UTC)
I'm not so sure about Rapunzel.
In the art book they mention it taking place during the Renaissance, which is quite a bit earlier. I think the name drop of Mozart was a mistake, and isn't based on the time period, because that would place it in the Buroque/Rococo era, but the clothes worn by the characters do not fit that period at all. The design of Rapunzel's costume in particular (bodice over blouse with skirt and underskirt) is very Renaissance.

I thought often "why did he mention Mozart when this takes place before?". I think it was more a mistake/ they didn't think people would notice/care about the reference than a mark of the era.
whittertwitterwhittertwitter on June 23rd, 2011 03:40 pm (UTC)
Yeah, Rapunzel was a pain in the ass to place. Rapunzel's dress being Renaissance-era I chalked up to Gothel preferring to make/teach Rapunzel how to make clothing closer to the time period in which she was born or her just not caring to keep up with the latest fashion trends.

I could agree with you, except for the last three Princess movies (Mulan, PatF, and Tangled), the people involved with the movies did so much research and cited where they drew their inspiration from, so I feel they wouldn't have made such a simple mistake. The first piano was recorded in the Medici family's inventory in about 1700, Mozart lived from 1756-1791, the cupcake wasn't invented until 1796, Blaise Pascal wasn't born until the 1600's, etc. Plus, there was some concept art of the townsfolk, which I'm having a hard time finding, that depicted them in fashions from the 1820's-1830's, and there was a comment somewhere that mentioned the filmmakers saying the film took place in 1780.
chiyozxchiyozx on October 5th, 2013 05:19 am (UTC)
@kirakirajenjen's comment
I agree. Looking at the clothing styles worn in the movie and the town life itself, it definitely looked like the 1600s. It looked much too early to be anywhere near the 1700s.
whittertwitterwhittertwitter on October 5th, 2013 05:33 pm (UTC)
Re: @kirakirajenjen's comment
Oh, really? What, exactly, jumps out at you that makes you so sure it has to be the 1600s, not the 1700s?

And re: the clothing styles...I'd say Rapunzel and Gothel shouldn't count in placing the time period, because Gothel's clothing is supposed to be centuries behind the times to emphasize how old she is and Rapunzel would also be wearing out-of-date clothing by association. In the final product, Flynn and the King are wearing clothing from the 1500s while the Queen is wearing clothing from the 1700s. In some of the concept art, Flynn is wearing Regency clothing and the King is wearing a military uniform from some time during the 1800s.

I can't for the life of me find the source right now, but Disney has confirmed that Tangled takes place in the 1780s.
lupko123 on February 7th, 2015 01:41 pm (UTC)
Re: @kirakirajenjen's comment
Good day,I was doing a reasearch on Disney princesses and their time periods and I was very happy when I stumbled upon your research :-) .
I think you did an excellent job and I agree with every princess and her time period except for Rapunzel.I read on the Official Disney wikia that Tangled takes place in the 1780s,but I really can't agree with that because when I saw Rapunzel's parents they reminded me so much of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn and the clothes they wore during the Renaissance era.Rapunzel's mother even had a pearl necklace similar to the one Anne Boleyn had.I think I read somewhere that Rapunzel does not take place in any time period but in an imaginary Disney universe time period.
Anyway,I really liked your article and I wish you luck on your future Disney Princess projects. :-)
whittertwitterwhittertwitter on February 9th, 2015 07:18 pm (UTC)
Re: @kirakirajenjen's comment
Thank you! :)

Yeah, Tangled was rather difficult to place, and I made this post before I found this. I definitely got a Henry VIII vibe from the King, but the Queen's outfit looks vaguely eighteenth century, as are the guards' uniforms. (Besides the breastplates, I mean.)

A lot of people say "[insert Disney film here] just takes place in a generic medieval European fantasy setting!" Which...I don't mean to sound rude, but it's kind of a lazy way of thinking about things? Yes, it might be hard to pin down a time period or location, but the creators clearly got their inspiration from SOMEWHERE in the real world. It's just a matter of tracking that inspiration to its source.

Thanks very much!