Photo: Disney Enterprises, Inc.
As for the movie's location, Rose says the fact that New Orleans was the site of so much tragedy for the African-American community is exactly why it's the perfect setting for The Princess and the Frog. "Where else do children need to see themselves as progressive and strong and having the ability to make their dreams come true?" she says. "Even if it's something that takes place in the past, the message lives right now. New Orleans needs that. New Orleans needs to know in no uncertain terms that the heritage that lives there—in their music, in their food—these things are not only viable but a part of the makings of the fabric of this country and worthy of celebrating."
The look of Princess Tianna isn't the only change worth noting in The Princess and the Frog. After a long run of CGI, Disney is returning to its original art form, and Rose says New Orleans is just the subject to help them show off the medium they pioneered. "They've captured the heat of that city in their drawing," she says. "It's palpable. There's a haze in it." But why take the step backward? "There's a romanticism with hand-drawn animation that you lose when you move into CGI. When you're talking about a fairy tale, I think there's a softness around the edges that you can't get with a computer," she says. "I'm not an artist—some people might argue: 'Yes, you can! You just hit Control-F3!' But I think there's no one who does hand-drawn animation like Disney. Even their color palette is so distinct."
Rose says The Incredibles and Monsters, Inc. are two of her favorite movies, but that hand-drawn animation as an art form must be preserved before it's lost altogether. "I think it's worth keeping some of the classic things we do in life," she says. "Which doesn't mean that we shouldn't step forward, but you don't have to throw something away to use something else."