Breathtakingly Tranquil Princess Environments

A common misconception among princess haters is that princesses and the people who admire them are selfish and greedy because they live in a castle and have enough money to get anything they want. True fans know that this isn't the case. Princesses from fantasy worlds are portrayed as kind and selfless and often want to escape the confines of their castle or tower. This desire for freedom often brings them to the most beautiful secluded environments of peace and serenity. Disney's 1959 animated classic Sleeping Beauty set the standards for this with its gorgeous anamorphic background paintings of rectangular trees and woodland creatures who feel right at home alongside the lovely Briar Rose, who embraces the tranquility of her little cottage in the woods. Since then, princesses have often been associated with flowers and nature as a reflection of their own natural beauty and innocence.

Recently, I discovered a Chinese drama on Netflix called Ashes of Love that brilliantly portrays these dreamlike princess environments in a live-action setting. The series is based on a novel called Heavy Sweetness Ash-Like Frost by Dian Xian and tells the story of a grape fairy named Jinmi who discovers later that she is not a grape fairy at all, but someone far more important. The series is set in four breathtakingly beautiful realms--the Floral Realm, the Heavenly Realm, the Demon Realm, and the Mortal Realm. Jinmi resides in the Floral Realm, which is full of vibrant pastel flowers, crystal clear sparkling springs, and cozy treehouses where all of the lovely flower fairies reside. For her, this shimmering wonderland is a prison because she is not allowed to leave the confines of the Water Mirror. When a Phoenix from the Heavenly Realm crash-lands in her backyard, she begs him to take her back with him so that she may have the opportunity to see other worlds. Her journey irrevokably changes who she is as a person and teaches her the meaning of love and sorrow. Though it is similar in tone to my favorite Filipino series, Dyesebel, Ashes of Love is by far the most visually stunning live-action show I have ever seen. Jinmi is a princess in every sense of the word except for the title, but there are also two "official" princesses in the series. Suihe is the conceited princess of the Heavenly Realm, and Liuying is the brave princess of the Demon Realm. As an ironic twist, the Demon princess is much nicer than the Heavenly princess.

The artwork of the late Thomas Kinkade is a fantastic way to escape into the visually lush and vibrant worlds of the Disney Princesses. Known as the "Painter of Light," Thomas Kinkade is able to paint environments that look both natural and magical at the same time due to the way the sunlight kisses the flora, fauna, and structures in the background. He had a pretty interesting life of pursuing his passion as an artist and eventually settling for doing background work on the animated film Fire and Ice before getting hired by Disney to create artwork inspired by their films. Today, his followers continue to make beautiful Disney paintings in his style even though he passed on in 2012. New and old Thomas Kinkade paintings are released annually as wall calendars that I often go out of my way to purchase each year. The fun of his Disney paintings is that if you stare at them long enough to get lost in peaceful worlds from the films, you can find hidden secrets painted within tiny crevices, such as hidden characters and scenes. For instance, in the peaceful painting of Sleeping Beauty above, you can find hints of Maleficent lurking in the upper left and right-hand corners via her castle and her dragon form. Tinker Bell is also a common lurker within his paintings.

One of the reasons I love Princess Gwenevere and the Jewel Riders so much is because of its gorgeous environments. I've always been fascinated by the Crystal Palace because it's so different from any other animated fairy tale castle. The first season's finale revealed that it is actually is an enchanted jewel just like the ones wielded by the Jewel Riders. Its dome structure with arched bridges between the towers is very unique as well, and the land outside it is stunning. The Friendship Ring is a lovely portrayal of a fantasy stadium, and the Travel Trees offer the perfect form of natural transportation that doesn't taint the lush green environment of Avalon. The color palette of pink, green, and lavender, is very similar to that of the Floral Realm from Ashes of Love. I wish I could see the world in such bright colors all the time.

As nice as it is to dream about wearing expensive dresses and living in a fancy palace, the world of fairy tale and fantasy princesses are not so superficial. Princesses are one with nature and live in pristine environments that are untouched by the outside world. A princess's kingdom is lush, colorful, and bursting with life. Though it is possible to find similar uninhabited locations in nature in the real world, there is just something about natural fantasy environments that make them feel so much more magical. To be a true princess means to be fully in tune with the world around you, a world that is brimming with beauty, peace, and tranquility.


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