Voodoo in The Princess and The Frog



It would seem that Dr. Facilier is unable to conduct Voodoo magic without the help of his “friends on the other side”. In The Princess and the Frog they are depicted as shadows on walls and small images floating through the air, singings and wreaking havoc on the characters. These “friends” are based upon the loa, which are spirits of the Voodoo religion. Loa are considered to be intermediaries between Bondye (the Creator) and people on earth. The Voodoo belief is that the loa are to be served and that they each have their own distinct likes and dislikes, for example particular songs or dances.

In the movie they are shown to be cruel spirits, playing tricks and seeking revenge when Dr. Facilier does not do what he has promised them. They appear at the beginning of the movie when Dr. Facilier tricks Prince Naveen into believing he can help him. In reality he wants his blood to fill his Voodoo talisman (known as a ouangas in the Voodoo religion). He does this so he may steal the Prince’s identity and render him a frog. They appear again throughout the movie and are the cause for Dr. Facilier’s brutal death scene. More information about that scene can be found here.

While most criticisms of the movie are about the violent and Voodoo nature of the film, one critic is speaking out about the depiction of the religion, in particular the loa. Michelle Gonzalez Maldonado, an author and assistant professor of religious studies at the University of Miami condemns Disney’s Voodoo portrayal in her article “Bad Magic: Voodoo According to Disney”. She states “I do not know where to begin my comments on how this film perpetuates offensive stereotypes about Voodoo. The loas are represented as evil spirits full of greed and anger. The masks themselves are vengeful, and end up killing Dr. Facilier when, in inevitable Disney fashion, his evil plan fails.”

Maldonado vehemently declares in the article that the The Princess and the Frog’s presentation of Voodoo was blatantly racist and misinformed. She ends with “The reduction of religion to magic is also reaffirmed in the curious absence of Catholicism in the film. My son is correct, Disney Voodoo is bad magic; it just doesn’t have anything to do with the authentic African Diaspora religion.”

This clip is from when Prince Naveen first meets the Shadow Man. At first you can merely hear the loa (Dr. Facilier
says it’s an echo). Then at 3:30 when Dr. Facilier invites them to “shake a poor sinner’s hand” the loa emerge.