Naomi Scott, who is bringing the iconic Disney princess to life, had made a point of adding her own flavour to the character, telling E! News: “No matter what you do, you will get criticised. So, I figure just do what you’re gonna do. There’s a sense of wanting to get that balance right of honoring the original [film] and kind of adding your own flavor.”
She added: “For me, I definitely knew how I wanted to play her. It was personal to me as well. I loved Jasmine growing up, so it was exciting… you just do what feels right to you.”
“Being a female character is also about being a real person, and guess what? [She] can be strong and have fun, but also get it wrong and be emotional,” she said. “She’s a multidimensional woman, and she doesn’t have to just be one thing. So in this movie, you see her go on such a roller coaster, as opposed to her one goal being to fall in love or get married.”
This Jasmine also has clear political drive. “You really get in this adaptation of the movie that her heart is for her people, and her main objective is what’s best for her kingdom,” Scott said. “And you really get a sense that she has those leadership qualities within her.”
But the biggest change for Jasmine is the introduction of a female, human confidante for her in the form of new character Dalia, a handmaiden Nasim Pedrad is playing. “I never realised it, but in the animation, Jasmine is really the only female character — isn’t that crazy?” Scott said. “The Dalia character is so important to this movie because she’s the only other female character. She may be the handmaiden but they’re best friends; they’re so close because they’ve grown up together. So we wanted people to watch the movie and see Jasmine’s relationship with another woman, and be like, ‘Ah, that’s what I’m like with my girlfriend,’ or ‘We would so do that if I was in that position.’ That’s something that’s missing from the animation.”
While there will be some changes, though, one thing remains a constant: once again, the independent princess is going to sneak into Agrabah in search of adventure in a whole new world.
And, just as she did in the animated version, she will do so dressed in blue.
It’s a recurring theme throughout Disney; Beauty and the Beast’s Belle, Sleeping Beauty’s Aurora, Frozen’s Elsa, Aladdin’s Jasmine, Peter Pan’s Wendy, Alice in Wonderland’s Alice and even Cinderella all have one thing in common, and it’s in the colour of their outfits.
It seems as if blue truly is the colour, and, apparently, feminism is the game.
Speaking about the significance of the hue, Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, explained to Allure: “It’s dependable. It's reliable. It might cloud up, but we know it’s there.”
She added that these “positive connotations” – dependability, constancy, and the ability to overcome dark times – explains why blue was traditionally attributed to boys, with these qualities all thought of as indicating a “strong, decent man”.
Though Disney has had its criticisms of its women’s characters over the years, by giving their heroines blue ensembles, the company has imbued them with a sense of power, of control over their own destinies. More importantly, they have allowed their diminutive worlds (women, traditionally, were expected to stay near home and hearth) to expand.
“You’re adding a bit of power to the character by giving her the blue,” says Eiseman. “It’s a very subtle way of saying, ‘Yeah, but young women, young girls, can be empowered, too.’”
Whether the company definitely intended this is not known, although there are so many leading women in blue that it seems a strange coincidence if not.
Costume designer Jacqueline Durran, who worked alongside Emma Watson on Belle’s attire for Beauty and the Beast, has also stressed the empowering qualities of the colour, saying the shade fits Belle’s role as an active heroine.
“There is a sort of refinement and crispness to light blue, but there’s also blue in workwear,” she told the publication. “It is a practical colour, and a colour that you can work in.
“In that sense, it is full of active strength.”
In the original animated film, blue was definitely Belle’s colour – although, in the 1991 classic, it wasn’t just symbolic of her empowerment.
In fact, art director Brian McEntee famously colour-keyed Belle so that she is the only person in her town who wears blue, to symbolise how different she is from everyone else around her. Later, she encounters the Beast, another outsider, and he is also wearing blue and has blue eyes.
While the remake saw others wearing hints of blue, Belle, once again, was “distinct within the town as the only one who wears a column of blue”.
Of course, Belle was not solely decked in the shade for the live-action remake – Watson’s character also slipped into that iconic yellow gown, too.
However Durran was keen to help Watson realise her vision of a feminist Disney princess and the pair worked hard to incorporate that into the ballgown, which was made famous in the 1991 animated classic.
“For Emma, it was important that the dress was light and that it had a lot of movement,” Durran explained to Entertainment Weekly. “In Emma’s reinterpretation, Belle is an active princess. She did not want a dress that was corseted or that would impede her in any way.”
They even made sure that Belle’s shoes fit within this new narrative, ensuring that, while they were heeled slippers from the 18th century, they were still “something that Belle can run in and that she can go off and save her father in”.
It remains to be seen as to whether or not something similar will be done for Scott’s Jasmine. However, we’ve no doubt that she will become more of a definitive character in her own right. Indeed, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (the Oscar-winning songwriters, who are collaborating with legendary composer Alan Menken on the upcoming film), revealed to Variety that they have written a solo song.
“We got to write a new song for Jasmine,” Paul told Variety. “Alan wrote a beautiful piece of music and [Scott] is incredible.”
This article was originally publish in 2017.