Enchanted director on why Giselle doesn't belong with Edward: 'She had to evolve'
True love’s kiss and the promise of happily-ever-after have long reigned supreme as the perfect ending to Disney films. When Enchanted premiered 10 years ago, it got to have its wedding cake and eat it too — by making Giselle’s (Amy Adams) “prince” the cynical, real-world lawyer Robert (Patrick Dempsey) instead of the literal fairy-tale hero Edward (James Marsden).
Still, there are those who question this ending a decade later and say Giselle should have ended up with her cartoon prince. Director Kevin Lima could not disagree more with those naysayers.
“They’re absolutely wrong,” he tells EW. “Because it is about a woman who grows past the small world where she came from and becomes a more fully formed person. So she can’t stay where she was, she can’t get married to the person she met that she decided to marry in a single day.”
For Lima, the ending as it is represents Giselle’s transformation from animated princess to complex, fully drawn woman. “Real life doesn’t happen that way,” he says. “She had to evolve and had to grow, and that means unfortunately putting aside Edward and moving on to Robert.”
Lima says he wanted to make the film precisely because of this blend of Disney animation tropes and doses of reality. After beginning his career as a Disney animator and directing Tarzan and A Goofy Movie, he felt his ingrained Disney sensibility made him the perfect choice to blend the two worlds.
“When I first read it [Enchanted], it was actually kind of snide,” Lima recalls. He says the film was trying hard to be more satirical and more along the line of films like Shrek. “We don’t need to make fun of it, we don’t need to be cynical,” he remembers saying. “We had some rewrites on the script, changing the focus to be more of a love letter to Disney.”
It’s that aspect of paying homage to the studio’s classic films and history that Lima believes has allowed Enchanted to endure over the last 10 years. “Most of us have grown up touched by Disney in one way or another,” he says. “What Enchanted does is it takes the legacy and says it’s okay to live with the joy that you felt when you were a child.”
For Lima, this message is imparted via Giselle’s journey in the film — and her finding true love with Robert and his daughter is crucial to that. “She becomes real, she becomes a real woman, but she doesn’t give up who she is. She doesn’t give up that naiveté or that purity in order to become real,” Lima explains. “The movie thematically presses that idea that even though you grow up, you don’t have to let go of the child that’s in you. … It does embrace joy as its central message.”