‘Lilo and Stitch’ prioritized sisterhood over romance way before ‘Frozen’, director says

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When it comes to Disney’s Frozen, it looks like no one can get enough of it. After all, the movie was applauded for demonstrating the “true love” may be acquired in forms apart from romance.

However, the co-director of 2002 Disney movie Lilo and Stitch, Chris Sanders, would want to remind the people that they emphasized sisterhood above a romantic narrative long before Frozen.

In an interview with The New York Times on the 20th anniversary of Lilo & Stitch, Sanders recalled being “frustrated” by the misperception that Frozen was the first Disney animated picture to highlight the bond between sisters.

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“To be clear, I think Frozen‘s great. But it was a little bit frustrating for me because people were like, ‘Finally, a nonromantic relationship with these two girls,’ and I thought, ‘We did that! That has absolutely been done before.'”

Lilo & Stitch was released more than a decade prior Frozen hit theatres in 2013. The story revolves around Lilo, whose sole family member is her elder sister Nani after her parents were killed in an accident. The two sisters are about to be separated because a social worker is afraid that Nani is unable to effectively care for her sister. Later, Lilo ends up befriending an alien, Stitch, creating a challenge for both sisters to prove their ability to love each other. Unlike Frozen, the movie lacked a romance element excluding the spark of attraction between Nani and her surfing friend David.

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Sanders made a point on the film’s storyline, stating that people were able to connect to it since it was based on reality and people could see themselves.

“When the film came out, that’s what a lot of critics talked about. Those moments that were based in reality in a way that people could see themselves in, and it didn’t feel like they were cartoon characters.”

This year marks the 20th anniversary of Lilo & Stitch, which is now available on Disney+. It may not have been the powerhouse, but moviegoers adored it.