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Lilo & Stitch Director Reminds Frozen Fans, His Film Focused on Sisterhood First

Lilo & Stitch director Chris Sanders wishes more people would remember how the film starring Lilo and Nani explored sisterhood before Frozen ever did.

Lilo & Stitch co-director Chris Sanders pointed out that the central relationship of the Disney film, between sisters Nani and Lilo Pelakai, predates the bond Elsa and Anna share in Frozen by over a decade.

In an interview with The New York Times, Sanders stated that he wants more people to acknowledge that the themes of sisterhood and complicated sibling dynamics were explored in Lilo & Stitch in 2002, 11 years before they were featured in the juggernaut that is 2013’s Frozen. “To be clear, I think Frozen’s great,” he clarified. “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.'”

RELATED: Lilo & Stitch: What Planet Is Stitch From?

Lilo & Stitch arguably depicts far more “real” struggles that can affect a sibling relationship than Frozen does, with 19-year-old Nani wrestling with issues arising from trying to become her younger sister’s legal guardian after their parents die in a shock car accident. She tries her best to balance being both a sister and a parent to Lilo, but their social worker always seems to catch the pair during their worst moments.

Sanders also recalled that the audience initially had trouble in deciphering how Nani is related to Lilo, explaining that there was a negative response during the film’s first screening over the scene where Nani grabs Lilo’s wrist, due to the fact that viewers thought Nani was Lilo’s mother. The script was subsequently changed, with the filmmakers taking note from playwright Howard Ashman. “He said, ‘If you want the audience to remember something, you have to say it three times, one after the other,'” producer Clark Spencer said. “So we redid the scene, making sure that Lilo and Nani mention they’re sisters three times in a row.”

RELATED: Lilo and Stitch Fan Evokes Tim Burton in Creepy Cosplay

The crew also received feedback from the testing audience that they did not enjoy the amount of times Lilo and Nani yell at each other, but this was one aspect of the movies the filmmakers refused to change. “Chris [Sanders], [co-director] Dean [DeBlois],and I would say, ‘But that’s real,'” Spencer said. “This is a moment when Nani is feeling pressure, when Lilo is feeling out of place and trying to figure out who she is.”

Lilo & Stitch is available to stream now on Disney+. The film’s direct-to-video sequels and spinoff television shows can also be streamed on the service.

Source: The New York Times

CBR Anime News Writer Hansini Wasalamudalige majored in Professional and Creative Writing for her Bachelor of Arts from Deakin University (Australia). She has been a fan of anime and manga for over a decade, with the original Yu-Gi-Oh! being her gateway into both mediums. Her favourite series include Fullmetal Alchemist, Fruits Basket and Black Butler. When Hansini is not obsessing fuelling her otaku tendencies, she loves to write, play video games and hang out with friends.

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