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PRINCESS

Princess is an adorable 2008 TV movie starring Nora Zehetner and Kip Pardue. Set in the modern day, Princess Ithaca is a mysterious recluse of a princess who lives in a castle in the middle of a city. She never ever goes out, and is only only seen once a year when she holds a fundraising ball and allows visitors into the castle grounds. Not much is known about her or even what she is a princess of, but people are drawn to her anyway, making her a local legend.

Entering the picture is William, a well-meaning but lost drifter who doesn't know what to do with his life. He's staying at a friend's house for the time-being, and is roped into attending Princess Ithaca's dinner. Once he sees her, he's smitten, and bids his entire life savings in an auction for a dance and dinner date with her. They share the last dance of the night, and in a moment of nerves William starts a cheesy pick-up line he'd gotten from his friend, "I know who you're looking for, and I know you haven't found her yet..." but before he can finish, the Princess is shocked and immediately assumes that he is The Searcher, a man she has been waiting for.

William and Princess Ithaca start spending time together, in which William slowly pieces together the pieces of what the mysterious Princess' real deal is. The truth is far more shocking that he could've predicted: "Princess" is a job title, not one inherited by blood, and her duty is to be the Healer of mythical creatures from all over the world. The power of the Princess only lasts until their 25th birthday, before which they have to find the next girl who is to inherit the job or the line is broken. That's why Princess Ithaca needs The Searcher: he's supposed to find the next Princess before time runs out.

I'd just like to add that I enjoyed this little movie for what it is. It plays straight on some typical modern ideas of fairytale princesses, where Princess Ithaca wears huge gowns (almost) all the time, small animals follow her around, and is generally the sweetest, kindest dear you'd ever meet. At the same time it challenges some of those ideas, where here being a Princess is literally being the Chosen One, where she has a serious, secret job to do and has willingly given up a normal life to do it the best she can. Almost like a Slayer, except in the opposite direction and with way more glitter.

I reckon that because this movie features a Disney-ish fairytale princess in a modern setting, comparisons with Enchanted will be inevitable, but I do think they pay tribute to fairytales in different ways and do different things about the culture clash between the fairytale world and the real one. Princess isn't about subversion or parody, and it isn't the Princess who has to adapt to a strange new environment. I do like that Nora Zehetner plays the Princess with softness and bite; she is innocent but not naive, with a sharp edge to her when she needs to be. Thinking about it, I would've bought something like this being a pilot for a TV series, especially with how the movie ends with Princess Ithaca passing the torch to the new Princess. How do the characters move on from there?

Anyway, this movie came into my radar because I'd heard that mermaids are among the creatures that Princess Ithaca cares for in her castle. In this we do see one mermaid, Cala (Shileen Paton), who is ill and recuperating in the castle. In the scene where she meets William, she's in a wheelchair (haha!) and is wearing a blanket to hide her CGI tail... even if the ruse doesn't completely work. Then at the end of the film, when Calliope is crowned the new Princess, a fully-healed Cala shows up to congratulate her and promise to spread the news. (I'm reasonably certain that that's still Cala, though her hairstyle has changed...)

Anyway there it is, a brief cameo from the merkingdom!


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