Voodoo in The Princess and The Frog



As a children’s film depicting Voodoo, The Princess and the Frog has garnered quite a bit of feedback and criticism from the Christian community.

Thaisha Geiger of Christiananswers.net wrote:

Magic is expected in almost any fairy tale movie. However, the magic in “The Princess and the Frog” is rather dark and demonic. As a reviewer, I felt troubled that this movie was given a G rating. Within the story, there's a lengthy tarot-card reading, Dr. Facilier stating he has “friends on the other side,” and evil spirits who hunt Prince Naveen down and drag him away. Mama Odie, another voodoo magician, is shown positively. There’s also a voodoo doll made for one of the characters, His heart is almost stabbed for his intended murder...

... I do not personally recommend “The Princess and the Frog.” Practicing any sort of occultic [sic] magic is directly against God and is labelled as an abomination throughout Scripture. This movie displays that voodoo magicians hold all the power of both good and evil. A PG rating would have been more appropriate; I strongly advise that younger, undiscerning children not be allowed to see it. For older children, however, “The Princess and the Frog” might serve as a platform for parents to discuss with their children the real existence of occult practices and how to identify them.


Annie Young Frisbie of Christianitytoday.com wrote:

It's hard not to think "pimp" upon meeting Shadowman, with his thinly manicured beard edging along his jaw, gaudy purple suit, and bare stomach...

... These sexual undertones don't end with Shadowman. Prince Naveen sings about leaving behind a string of broken hearts, and it's evident that he's come to New Orleans because of the potential for meeting loose party girls at Mardi Gras. During the big parade, we see beads being flung—though mercifully no actual girls gone wild...

... But it's the use of voodoo that ultimately reveals the movie's hollow, thoughtless core. Shadowman is engaging in black magic, and the scenes where he speaks to his "friends on the other side" contain many horror elements. It's very clear that he's trafficking in evil. Younger children might be quite frightened by the imagery, and older children might find themselves fascinated and wanting to learn more. As if this weren't bad enough, on the flip side we get mystical Mama Odie, stereotype piled on stereotype straight out of every cliché of the wise old black woman. Mama Odie knows voodoo, too, but her magic is more of the prosaic, homegrown kind. In a production number that evokes gospel music but with Jesus neatly stripped away, Mama Odie offers up a defiantly American church of the self.


But writer Mark I. Pinsky offers a different take on the new Disney classic saying. He writes in The Wall Street Journal:

Before the boycott began, Messrs. Eisner and Katzenberg—both Jews—had already taken a 180-degree turn from Walt's religion-averse policy in the company's signature releases. They believed it was possible to animate faith without caricaturing it. In 1999's "The Hunchback of Notre Dame," Disney writers and artists turned Victor Hugo's anticlerical classic on its head, in the process making the studio's most explicitly pro-Christian feature ever. While the Baptists applauded—and took credit for—this aspect of "Hunchback," they were considerably less enamoured with the films that showcased different belief systems, all in positive, respectful lights: "Mulan" (Confucianism), "Pocahontas" (animism), "Hercules" (paganism) and "Brother Bear" (shamanism).

With all this experience, Disney filmmakers were confident enough to incorporate elements of Afro-Caribbean Santeria and Vodou, such as "loas," or spirits, hungry for souls, and colorful, West African masks that speak, in "The Princess and the Frog." The movie embodies the full canon of the Disney Gospel: dreaming, wishing, hard work, love and self-sacrifice, aided by strategic magical intervention. Believers in the Judeo-Christian tradition will also recognize the saving grace of selfless love and good works.