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THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG

The Story
"THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG” is the sixth collaboration by the veteran team of Ron Clements and John Musker, the team behind "The Great Mouse Detective,” "The Little Mermaid,” "Aladdin,” "Hercules” and "Treasure Planet.” The animation duo was drawn to the project because of its compelling story and comic promise.

"John Lasseter loved the idea,” Musker recalls, "and the idea of New Orleans as a setting, with all the cultural, historical, visual and magical ideas that great city offered us. We decided that the Jazz Age added an element of both nostalgia and musicality, and we really wanted to play up the fairy tale archetypes.”

"THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG” is, of course, inspired by the fairy tale "The Frog Prince” from the Brothers Grimm. But the filmmakers had to put their own spin on the story. Screenwriter Rob Edwards says the writing process is an extremely collaborative one. "Most of my writing is done while walking through the halls and talking to the storyboard artists and the animators and some of the voice talent and the directors,” he says. "The easy part is going back to my office and just writing it.”

On the bend of the Big River, New Orleans sparkles with opulence, adventure, romance, music and magic. Here in the "once upon a time” of the Jazz Age 1920s, among the wrought-iron balconies and beckoning alleyways of the French Quarter and environs, a most unusual tale unfolds.

Tiana is an attractive, independent, hardworking young woman. She has no time for romance and the dalliance of dreams, she has a love of cooking, and plans to be a successful restaurateur, fulfilling the love of food that is her father's legacy. But in spite of her hard work and diligence, obstacles keep Tiana's goals out of reach.

Down on the Mississippi riverfront, a handsome and gregarious jazz fanatic has arrived in the Crescent City: the royal outcast Prince Naveen from far-off Maldonia. A little spoiled, irresponsible and indolent, perhaps, Naveen has made his way through life on his good looks and undeniable charm. His position attracts the evil Dr. Facilier, a practitioner of dark magic, whose effort to steal Naveen's royal privilege results in the handsome prince's transformation into a frog.

Naveen's attempt to use the old fairy-tale standby of a kiss to return him to human form only results in Tiana being transformed, too, and the amphibious twosome find themselves cast adrift in the Louisiana bayou, pursued by frog hunters and seeking the good magic of a mysterious 197-year-old priestess named Mama Odie.

Helping them along in their precarious, awkward, but truly laughable journey are a lovesick Cajun firefly named Ray and a Jazz-playing alligator named Louis; and although their way is fraught with peril, the contrary pair bring out each other's better selves, overcome their differences and their obstacles, and discover that dreams do come true—but never in the way one might expect.

In the end, love wins out, and the differences that seemed so very important before seem to fade away into the bayou.

Edwards says his goal was simple: "I want to tell an honest story about two wonderful people who meet and fall in love. I want to tell it to my friends and my friends' sons and daughters, and that's it.”

But does "THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG” have the makings of a classic? "What makes a classic?” asks Edwards. "Compelling characters, strong points of view, humor that's both sophisticated for parents and fun for kids, great music. You want to make a kind of rollercoaster ride with great highs and lows. You should laugh, you should cry. You should be touched, and I think if it touches people, then everything else falls into place.”<

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