Swan Lake vs. The Swan Princess

New Line Cinema’s The Swan Princess is a retelling of Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, sharing the story of the classic ballet through an animated musical. Both works concern the life of Princess Odette, a beautiful princess placed under a spell that transforms her into a swan. However, differences are apparent in the plot and character of Odette.

In Swan Lake, the ballet opens with Prince Siegfried at his castle.  He must pick a wife and declare his love for her, but instead chases a pack of swans into the woods armed with his crossbow.  In The Swan Princess, although, Prince Derek and Princess Odette, are arranged to marry and know one another from a young age.  In fact, the film opens with a probably 4-year-old Derek presenting the newborn Odette with a locket.  The early meeting mimics other animated fairy tales, such as Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty.  A similar scene to Swan Lake’s opening occurs later in the film, but The Swan Princess’s opening with the feuding song, “This Is My Idea,” gives the film a more relaxed tone than the ballet. The song shows a montage of things the two don’t like about each other, likes Derek kicking Odette out of his all-boys clubhouse and Derek’s annoyance at Odette flirting with the castle’s guards.

The upbeat song turns serious when the two fall for one another and sing “this is my idea of love.”  As the two dance together at the song’s end, it is reminiscent of Odette and Siegfried’s first dance in Act 2 of Swan Lake.  Derek’s spinning of Odette as they become reacquainted is inspired by Siegfried’s twirling of Odette when they meet for the first time.  Though The Swan Princess offers more backstory on the prince and princess as children and allows them to meet when they’re young, the romantic meeting of Odette and her prince in both the musical and the ballet are similar.

Prince Siegfried and Odette

The Swan Princess’s Odette is more modern and independent than Odette from Swan Lake.  In both works, the prince is drawn to the princess by incredible physical attraction.  Since there is no dialogue in Swan Lake, and Siegfried and Odette do not spend much time getting to know each other, it can be assumed that physical attraction is a large contributor for their love, specifically Siegfried’s love for Odette.  They share a dance and then Siegfried begins to proclaim his pledge of love to Odette.  After a similar dance in The Swan Princess, Derek and Odette share their first kiss.   Derek shouts that the two will be married, but Odette protests, showcasing her powerful nature.  She asks him, “Is beauty all that matters to you?” He replies with, “What else is there?” Odette flees this purely superficial relationship, which unfortunately leads to her capture.

Although Odette is more fiery in The Swan Princess, she relies on her prince for her freedom like Odette from Swan Lake.  In both works, she clings to her prince whenever he comes to visit her, and she cannot break away from Rothbart without him, no matter how hard she tries.

It's also significantly more creepy than the other works.

A more recent retelling of Swan Lake is the 2010 thriller Black Swan, starring Natalie Portman. The film highlights the conflict between the white swan, Princess Odette, and the black swan, Rothbart’s dark clone of the princess. Black Swan focuses more on the actual performers of the ballet, as whoever plays the pure and noble Odette must also be able to portray the evil Black Swan.


Get Ready for The Hunger Games Premiere

The Hunger Games opens to the public at midnight tonight. Midnight premieres are perfect for movies that you’re very passionate about, as they open up opportunities for costumes and possible fan fights. Tonight, my friend Morgan and I are going hardcore Team Peeta.

First, we’re making shirts. We used plain black shirts and decorated them with acrylic paint and craft glitter.



We’re also channeling our inner Katniss through her side braid. This video from Sparknotes explains how to transform your hair into the hair of a champion.

Hopefully Morgan and I won’t get into a fight with some members of Team Gale.

21 Jump Street: A Must See for Spring

Props to the costume department.

When I first saw the preview for 21 Jump Street, I thought it was going to be a sloppy, raunchy R-rated comedy during the Spring slump of movie season.

I’m happy to say that I was wrong.

21 Jump Street is the best comedy I’ve seen since 2011’s Bad Teacher and it’s probably better than Cameron Diaz’s hilarious role as a teacher who wants nothing more than a breast augmentation.

Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum play clumsy cops who have one thing on their side: a youthful appearance. So, they are assigned to a special division called 21 Jump Street where they must go undercover as high school students to catch the creator of a new, dangerous drug.

Though I expected Jonah Hill to shine as the comedic backbone, Channing Tatum was the true star. He comes off flat in romantic comedies and action flicks like The Vow and G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, but in 21 Jump Street, he portrays a hilarious jock turned nerd who bands with a group of high school geeks.

“And I don’t know if you noticed, but this kid is white. So people actually give a ****.”

-21 Jump Street’s Ice Cube on the death of a high school student due to drugs

Ice Cube, who plays Hill and Tatum’s captain, was surprisingly funny as well. He plays to and against the stereotype of an angry, African American police captain. Stereotypes- breaking them and acknowledging them- are the source of comedy for this film. Making fun of traditional action film and cop movie plot lines were some of my favorite parts.

And, of course, the film plays homage to the original late 80s television series, 21 Jump Street, starring Johnny Depp and Dustin Nguyen.

A great medium for fashion.

The end of the film hints at a possible sequel in which Hill and Tatum will have to pose as college students. Hopefully the cops will be at it again in a few years.

Fly High at Indoor Trampoline Parks


There’s nothing like waking up Christmas morning to a brand-new trampoline waiting in your backyard. Take that thrill and multiply it by a billion.

Sky Zone, an indoor trampoline park in Atlanta, is a great location for exercise and entertainment. I visited the park during Spring Break with my friend Morgan (pictured above). Morgan and I participated in Open Jump. With Open Jump, participants pay by the hour or half hour and jump on the main court. The main court consists of about 20 trampolines with trampolines lining the walls, allowing you to bounce off the walls and onto the main court. Six tumble tracks run between the trampolines as well. We jumped for 30 minutes ($9) and that was plenty of time to make us sweat.


You can also reserve Sky Zone for birthday parties and attend jump classes. They have courts for dodgeball and basketball also, which is the only chance I’ll ever have at dunking.

Though there weren’t many “big kids” at Sky Zone when Morgan and I visited, it’s definitely a sport for all ages. If you live in the Atlanta area, I recommend purchasing a membership. It’s more fun than aerobics at the gym.

Safety is a main priority at Sky Zone, so you have to sign a waiver. Before jumping, an employee will give you a safety spiel, and employees monitor the courts. The main rule- only one person per trampoline.

Sky Zones have opened in several big cities. Visit their website to find a location near you.

Morning Shows Are Worth It Part 2: College Gameday

Herbie takes the stage.

If you followed college sports at all last Fall, November 8 should ring a bell. It was the Game of the Century. Alabama vs. LSU. 1 vs. 2. This game would determine who went on to the National Championship, though both teams ended up facing off again in the Rematch of the Century for the crystal.

ESPN’s College Gameday arrived in Tuscaloosa on Thursday, setting up at the Walk of Champions outside Bryant-Denny Stadium. My friends and I decided we would immerse ourselves in the Gameday experience and go to the set on Saturday morning, something we’d never done before.

We arrived at 3:30 a.m. in matching t shirts, carrying ‘Bama signs.

Our love for the hosts may seem excessive.

Our group opted to stand in front of the side stage, which is something I recommend. You can stand in the center area, but it’s harder to see what’s going on. Plus, there’s a good chance that cheerleaders will be perform stunts in front of you for the entire show. A pro to standing in the center: Chris Fowler and Erin Andrews greeted a few (I stress- a few) audience members on the front row of the center area.

However, if you’re directly behind the side stage on the front row, you’re guaranteed to get your five seconds of fame, at least. All the hosts and guests (except for Lee Corso) do segments on the side stage at some point. Plus, a large screen at the side stage allows you to watch what’s happening on the main set.

L-R David Pollack, Urban Meyer, and Tom Rinaldi

A must do for College Gameday: make a sign. However, security is incredibly strict on signs, especially if you’re near the front. Due to the Tyrann Mathieu synthetic marijuana situation, many signs had marijuana references (Ex: Grass- Les Miles eats it; Honey Badger smokes it), and they were quickly taken away. One of the best moments of the day was seeing Erin Andrews read our sign.

The commercial breaks at College Gameday allowed us to see the personalities behind the hosts. Watching Desmond Howard and David Pollack singing along and dancing to Taio Cruz’s “Dynamite” was beyond adorable.

So, if College Gameday decides to come to your city, especially if it’s your college town, definitely get a group of friends together and go. Here are my recommendations

  • Arrive early. As I said, we arrived at 3:30 a.m., but it was the Game of the Century, after all. It’s best to not go to sleep that night and take a quick nap after Gameday.
  • Make a sign. Try to brainstorm something creative and trendy.
  • Bring snacks. We had coffee, Red Bull and Pop Tarts. Mmmm.
  • Bring blankets and/or chairs. It will be nice to have something to sit on.

And, of course, have fun!

Morning Shows Are Worth It Part 1: The Today Show

The gang has a lot of energy, even at the crack of dawn.

Leaving my toasty bed before the sun comes up (or before 10 a.m., really) is not something I particularly enjoy. So, when my family and friends traveled to New York in May 2011, visiting The Today Show was not something I was just dying to do. Though I enjoy The Today Show ( the gang’s chemistry is the best of early morning news programs), I prefer to watch Al Roker give the weather report from the comforts of my queen-sized bed.

When we arrived at NBC (about 2 hours before the show, a good time if you want to be on the first row), a breakfast truck provided free coffee, waffles and pastries to those waiting for program. Don’t judge a caramel macchiato from a van. It’s one of the best I’ve ever had.

My group also participated in the sign-making tradition of The Today Show. The April 27th tornadoes had just struck my hometown, Tuscaloosa, as well as many areas in the Southeast. Our signs reflected our Tuscaloosa pride, one reading, “We will praise You in this storm-Tuscaloosa, Alabama” and another saying, “Roll Tide, Y’all.” Security checks every sign before you enter the gates of the lot, and they are a scary bunch.

Various members of The Today Show gang come out to the lot about five times per show. Roker, the showman, gave everyone on the front row (including myself) high fives. The special guest, who was Glee’s Chris Colfer at our show, also visits the lot.

Needless to say, I was freaking out. And trying not to call him Kurt.

Television screens and speakers allow you to see what’s filmed in the studio, so you’re not bored when none of the on-air talent is outside. The high energy of trying to get on TV is fun if you want your five seconds of fame. As an aspiring member of the media, I enjoyed watching how the producers, directors, assistants and on-air talent prepared for the show. It’s definitely a fast-paced environment, but this group makes it look effortless.

The next time you go to New York, devote a morning to The Today Show. Plus, it’s a free attraction with free breakfast. That’s nearly impossible to come by in the Big Apple.

He Lives In You: Hamlet and The Lion King

Hipster Simba is unforgiving

Shakespeare has influenced uncountable works of art over the years. One of my favorites is the influence of Shakespeare’s Hamlet on Walt Disney Pictures’ The Lion King. 

Hamlet and Simba, are driven to action through the memory of their father.  Though Hamlet and Simba both act on the advice their ghost fathers give them, the key differences between the two tales are in the advice.  The ghost of Hamlet’s father commands him to “revenge his foul and most unnatural murder” (1.5.25), meaning Hamlet must kill his uncle Claudius so his father can exit purgatory to enter heaven.  However, Mufasa’s spirit tells Simba to “remember who you are,” so he can take his place as the true king in the Circle of Life.  Both sons are obedient.  Hamlet eventually kills Claudius, along with most of the play’s cast, and Simba defeats his Uncle Scar to become king of Pride Rock.

Differences arise, however, in how how the princes go about completing their fathers’ wishes.  Hamlet is driven mad with the tragedy of his father and the trickery of his mother and uncle.  This madness causes him to become especially violent in trying to avenge his father’s death.  For example, he stabs Polonius (his girlfriend’s dad, by the way) through a curtain, thinking he is actually Claudius.  This violent mistake leads to the total ruin of Hamlet’s life, basically.  Though he succeeds in murdering his uncle and his mother, Polonius’ son, Laertes, avenges his own father’s death by killing Hamlet, causing the play to end in tragedy. Hamlet’s girlfriend Ophelia also kills herself along the way because Hamlet is supposedly acting like a complete lunatic, but actually becoming a complete lunatic. Simba, however, is not consumed with violence over the death of his father.  While Scar and Simba are fighting, Simba discovers Scar actually murdered his father.  Instead of killing him, Simba tells him to “run away and never return.” It is led to believe that the hyenas kill Scar.  Hamlet’s reactions to his father’s death lead to tragedy, while Simba’s reactions lead to hope.

The female roles align the least in the two works. While Gertrude takes up with her dead husband’s brother (and it’s believed they were having an affair before her husband’s death), Sarabi despises Scar’s malice and evil nature. Both Ophelia and Nala love their respected men, but Ophelia is driven to insanity when Hamlet is too consumed with taking out Claudius to notice her. Plus, he kills her father, which was probably a low point in their relationship. Nala, however, is strong and independent. Though she wants Simba to love her, her duty is to her pride no matter what happens.

Polonius and Zazu both serve as long-winded advisers, unaware/uncaring of their annoying personalities.

Brevity is the soul of wit.

Polonius, Shakespeare’s Hamlet

Other Shakespeare-inspired films: 

  • 10 Things I Hate About You, inspired by The Taming of the Shrew 
  • She’s The Man, inspired by Twelfth Night
  • The Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride, inspired by Romeo and Juliet
  • West Side Story, inspired by Romeo and Juliet (obviously)