Sunday, December 4, 2011

#15: Isn't it unromantic?

Lady & the Tramp, 1955
watched November 27, 2011
(c) Disney, thanks
While most Disney films get their material from children's books or classic fairy tales, Lady & the Tramp is the first original story made for an animated feature. The film cleverly portrays a dog's point of view, from the camera's lowered perspective, to the way that Lady's owners are referred to simply as 'Jim Dear' and 'Darling'. This also translates over to the biggest threats in the story: the dog-hating Aunt Sarah, her mischievous and creepy Siamese cats, and the fear of being taken to the pound. I particularly enjoy this movie is because I cannot resist cute animals, which I think I have mentioned before.

But what everyone remembers about Lady & the Tramp is the beautiful love story between Lady, the sheltered cocker spaniel who lives with a well-to-do couple, and the Tramp, a 'footloose and collar-free' mutt. (By the way, Tramp is not technically his real name, which is totally what I thought watching this movie as a child. He actually never calls himself by a specific name, which fits in well with his character.) Not insignificantly, we see here the first well-developed "romance" in the Disney animated canon. Curious that it should be about two dogs rather than a human princess and prince.

Lady and the Tramp are the quintessential star-crossed lovers. They embody the adage 'opposites attract' to a tee. Lady, naive and fragile, hasn't experienced much outside the comfort of her family's home. In contrast, the Tramp has seen it all. He lives anywhere he pleases, goes anywhere he pleases. Their obvious differences amuse and intrigue each other.

The relationship begins with excitement and wonder. The Tramp woos Lady with promises of fun and fulfillment in his adventurous lifestyle. When she doubts her place in the family at the arrival of a baby, Tramp uses that vulnerability to show her that there's more to life. And it certainly does seem appealing. After all, who wouldn't be smitten after a moonlit Italian dinner, a long walk through the park, and an... ahem... enchanting night spent together? But then Lady is caught and taken to the pound, and she learns that the freedom the Tramp promises is not guaranteed. When the other stray dogs inform her that the Tramp has had his share of flings, Lady believes she's been played.

But as their romance fades, the audience sees love demonstrated in a very different way. In the climax of the film, the Tramp pursues the evil rat to protect the baby, even when he knows that Lady is still angry with him, and that entering the house endangers him to being caught (and he is). This is the moment when love goes beyond empty promises and false ideas of perfection. This love becomes courage and selflessness.

Amidst many fairy tales (including some we've already seen) that portray romantic relationships as the passion between starry-eyed dreamers, the love displayed in Lady and the Tramp isn't just the infatuation of one "Bella Notte." It's an enduring, unselfish love. And that's the best kind of Love Story there is.


  1. aw, you've captured it perfectly! This might be my favorite post yet, and a new favorite among Disney movies. So funny then that this love story was followed up by the somewhat silly Sleeping Beauty love story. -Abi

  2. I love puppy love. :) Hahaha...this was one of my favorite movies growing up. My brother and I watched it together many times and would run around the house singing "We are Siamese, if you please!" I love the characters and the fun songs. And I love Trusty and Jock - they are such loyal friends. Even though I've seen this movie so many times, I think for the first time I noticed that they go over to the house to "propose" to Lady so that she'd have somewhere to live and wouldn't have to be sent away! Hahaha...I never noticed that before. Glad you had a great evening! Wish I could've been there to eat spaghetti with you all! :)