The Proof is in the Pudding: Food and Reality
By Olivia Holder
Enchanted follows the story of Giselle from the morning of her storybook wedding as she prepares to marry the Prince (Edward) of her dreams in the fairytale land of Andelasia, to her involuntary collision with the real world, a collision orchestrated by the evil Queen. The story tracks her strange and unexpected journey into the foreign land of New York City. One of Giselle’s woodland friends, Pip, accompanies Edward to rescue Giselle, but their efforts are constantly thwarted by the Nathaniel, the evil Queen’s henchman, as he secretly assists the Queen in her attempts to guard her throne from the unsuspecting Giselle. Meanwhile in New York City, Giselle finds friends in Robert and his six-year-old daughter. Like the classic fairytales that have come before, Enchanted features the fight between good and evil, but in this instance with a biblical twist redolent of the Book of Genesis. Also at odds with each other in this film are storybook optimism and clear-eyed realism. In this movie food serves dual yet connected purposes. It is a medium employed to bring the viewer’s attention the biblical allusions in the story and herald the new ways that Giselle assimilates to the real world. Thus food bridges the two worlds, the fairytale land and the harsh reality of New York, it brings in fantastical themes that complement the real world in the form of the biblical, and it also serves as a benchmarks for Giselle’s progress in becoming ‘real.’
The apple, in the popular imagination, is thought to be the tantalizing fruit that humanity lusted after in the Garden of Eden. Eve’s temptation was described as “good for food” (3:6) and “a delight to the eyes ” (3:6). Similarly, Giselle’s poison apples are presented to her to by the evil Queen or her henchman in the most delicious fashions – as a caramel apple; an apple martini; and a great, glossy, juicy, red apple. The camera emphasizes the arrival of each apple with a close-up positioned directly between the viewer’s line of vision and the impressed face of Giselle, highlighting their holding power. Eve ate the fruit because “it was to be desired to make one wise” (3:6). Giselle eventually eats her apple in a similar attempt to gain agency over her situation; Eve sought the knowledge of God and Giselle wishes to regain her former blissful ignorance of pain. The state of ignorance that Giselle sought was that of her life in the fairytale land Andelasia, one not dissimilar from the shalom of the Garden of Eden. In fact, just as the beguiling serpent is responsible for humankind’s removal from the garden, so too is Giselle’s exile from Andelasia the doing of the evil witch. In the transition from fairy book land to the real world the fantastical changes to adapt to forms that fit the real world.
This motif of the tantalizing apple that reoccurs through the film ensures that arguably greatest tale of the cosmic battle between good and evil remains in the viewer’s conscience and is applied to moral forces in the story. The unassuming but stalwart chipmunk, Pip, is valorized in one particular scene in which he was entombed in a box of popcorn by Nathaniel to prevent him from foiling his plans to seduce Giselle with a poison apple. He “rises again” thrusting his claws through the paper popcorn box in front of a still, waiting camera. Once caught again, he is clipped into a clothes hanger with his hands outstretched on the wood frame. A low angle that zooms out gives viewer time to observe his heroic, endurance of the pain and shame and also provides the opportunity to appreciate in Pip’s symbolic position. Thus, following from the introduction by the apple, Pip himself is emblematic of the transition from Andelasia to New York, from fairy magic to biblical tradition.
Other than tying in biblical themes, food also acts as an indicator of Giselle’s progress in adapting to the real world. When showing her Central Park, Robert introduces Giselle to a hot dog. Upon tasting it she exclaims, “This was so yummy. I didn’t know food could taste like this!” Through this it is clear that the senses are heightened in the real world; tastes are more complicated. This increased complexity is found in the filmography too. The fairytale world is one of flat, simple animations and pastel bright colors. The details that the camera records of the faces, objects and landscapes contrast with the simplicity of Andelasia. The colors of the movie are on the whole bright but still realistic. The steady optimistic hope that characterized the fairy book land is replaced with a clearly defined, and far more complex palette than just pastel colors.
Food set the scene and established a new relationship between Giselle and Robert at the “date” sequence. The scene is begun with an establishing shot of the moon over the city accompanied by the sung line “When the moon hits your eye like a large pizza pie that’s amore.” It is then followed by extreme close up of a sizable pizza pie shown at an overhead angle. As the camera zooms out it revealed that Giselle and Robert are sitting alone at a table of a nice restaurant surrounded by food, the very requirements stated earlier in the film for a date. Although Robert denies that this dinner is a date, the idea is planted firmly in the viewer’s mind that their relationship is heading toward the romantic.
In Enchanted, the poisonous apple invites the audience to make the connection between the battle of the forces of good and evil in the film and those of the bible and to mine for the rich allusions that are drawn between the works. Many of the bites that the Giselle takes and meals she takes part in announce the furtherance in her acclimation to the real world. Food may not be the first theme that comes to mind with this fairytale, but it is central to unlocking its many layers.
Enchanted. Dir. Kevin Lima. By Bill Kelly. Perf. Amy Adams, Patrick Dempsey, James Marsden, Timothy Spall, and Susan Sarandon. Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, 2007. DVD.
Holy Bible ESV. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2005. Print.