On August 3rd, 2001, we got a glimpse into the life of a less than ordinary 16-year-old girl, and watched as her invisible life became front and center. She learned of her royal parentage and that she was anything but ordinary–she’s was a princess! Yep, Mia Thermopolis is the Princess of Genovia and we’re taking a look back at “The Princess Diaries” in this week’s…
“The Princess Diaries,” like many great films, got its source material from literature. Meg Cabot’s 2000 novel of the same name gave inspiration to the film, about a young, unpopular girl who learns that her popularity is about to spike due to her being the princess of a European country. Anne Hathaway plays Mia Thermopolis, with Julie Andrews imbuing the very essence of royalty as her grandmother, Queen Clarisse Renaldi. The duo has great onscreen chemistry that captures much of the charm of the story.
But one of the best things to come out of this film was Anne Hathaway. This was her breakout role in film, her unknown status paralleling the story of her character Mia. Since her role as the awkward, unrefined outcast-turned-princess, Hathaway has gone on to star in critically acclaimed films such as “The Devil Wears Prada,” “The Dark Knight Returns,” “Brokeback Mountain,” and “Les Misérables.” Once a Hollywood starlet, she’s now an Academy Award winning actress, the road to which was paved by this very role.
“The Princess Diaries” wasn’t necessarily the best reviewed film of the year, but its pleasant charm and feel-good story allows it to stand out despite this fact. What’s at the heart of this film is a coming of age story about teenage angst and discovery of one’s true self. Mia blossoms throughout the film, and after having finally believed in herself, proves it’s what’s on the inside that matters.
The film led to a sequel, “The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement,” and as is all too common in the sequel world, it paled in comparison. It did showcase some deeper hitting themes of female empowerment, but the first film showcased that without making it too obvious. There’s an innocent subtlety in “The Princess Diaries” that causes it to rise above, and though there’s been talk of a third film in the works, it almost feels as though the franchise’s legacy (or really, the beauty of the first film) should be left alone.
Really, “The Princess Diaries” is just an innocent, heart warming film filled with a great cast, amusing story, and well depicted themes. It’s been 16 years since its release, but its mark in the film industry refuses to let the memory of it fade. And as long as Anne Hathaway continues to be the actress she’s become, we’ll always have this film to look back at as her start. She really was the Princess of Genovia.