Literature: The Princess and the Goblin

The Princess and the Goblin is a children's fantasy novel written by George MacDonald in 1872. It was made into a full-length animated film in 1992 by József Gémes, and was jointly animated in Hungary and Wales.

When a peaceful kingdom is menaced by an army of monstrous goblins, the brave and beautiful Princess Irene joins forces with resourceful peasant boy Curtie to rescue the noble king and all his people. The lucky pair must battle the evil power of the wicked goblin prince armed only with the gift of song, the miracle of love, and a magical shimmering thread.

As the novel is in the public domain it can be read for free here. A sequel, The Princess and Curdie, was written in 1883, and can be read here.

The Princess and the Goblin novel has examples of:

  • Everything's Better with Princesses: Lampshaded in the opening, where the narrator is interrupted to discuss why he uses princess heroines so often.
  • Fairy Tale Motifs: In spades, played with George MacDonald's usual finesse.
  • I Gave My Word: Irene explains to her father about her promise and finally fulfills it.
  • Missing Mom: Irene's dead mother.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted; the princess and her great-great grandmother are both named Irene. (Justified because the princess was named after her.)
  • Our Goblins Are Different: The goblins have incredibly tough skin, to the point that boulders falling on their head don't bother them and swords bend when they strike. They're incapacitated by even light blows to their feet though, and cheerful singing repels them.
  • The Promise: Irene's promise to kiss Curdie.
  • Song of Courage: Curdie's rhymes are used to both repel goblins and embolden the heroes. "A Spark Inside Us" in the film.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: The goblins, as stated before, hate cheerful singing and being hit on the feet.
  • Weirdness Censor: Curdie doesn't believe in Irene's grandmother, so he sees her attic room as bare. It's mentioned that he would have seen her if she'd been in her workroom, but Lootie (who has much less imagination) "would rub her eyes, forget the half she saw, and call the other half nonsense".

The movie also has examples of

  • Adaptation Name Change: Harelip to Froglip.
  • Adults Are Useless:
    • The amount of creatures the guards manage to prevent getting into the castle can be counted on one hand, including Curdie. Not to mention Lootie constantly loses Irene, and nobody believes her about her great-grandmother or the goblins.
    • Except the King, who trusts his daughter´s judgement.
Froglip: I want to have them eating the dirt from under my FINGERNAILLLLLLLLLLLTHPTHPTTH!
  • Bad Is Good and Good Is Bad: The goblins.
    Froglip: Above ground, we were forced to obey...laws. To help others. To be friendly to people! [Laughs] Impossible!
  • Captain Obvious
    Curdie: It's like a village... a goblin village. Whoa... this must be where the goblins live!
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Froglip.
  • Cats Are Mean: Completely averted by Irene's cat, Turnip, who is one of her most loyal companions, but played straight by one of the goblin's pets, a fork-tailed demonic cat creature.
  • Cute Kitten
  • Dangerously Genre Savvy: The Goblin Queen wore stone shoes to protect her feet.
  • Disney Villain Death: Froglip, and a good number of other goblins via the Inevitable Waterfall.
  • Dub Name Change: The hungarian dub renamed Irene to Angelica, Curdie to Kófic and Prince Froglip to Prince Varangy (=Toad). Turnip's name was directly translated.
  • Gainaxing: The Goblin Queen.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: When the goblins invade, many of the servants (including Lootie) are obviously drunk. Also, once of the goblins licks Lootie when they capture the servants.
    • Also, when Curdie tells Irene to stay in her room while he deals with the goblins, she locks herself in, only to realise Froglip managed to sneak in. He jumps at her, she screams and the camera fades to black. When Curdie returns to Irene's room, the place is utterly trashed and there's no trace of her.
    • Froglip pleading with his mother to let him deal with Curdie when the goblins capture him involve him saying, "I could do such nasty things to him!"
  • Incessant Chorus: "A Spark Inside Us" in the movie, various playful poems in the book. It's a song about singing, but it helps that singing is a highly effective weapon.
  • Inevitable Waterfall: One is formed after the castle is flooded.
  • Large Ham: Prince Froglip. Being voiced by Rik Mayall, this was bound to happen.
  • Made of Iron: Curdie can survive falling down a cave without a scratch, but when he falls down the stairs he's unconscious.
  • Momma's Boy: The Goblin Prince is constantly doted and praised by his goulish mother.
  • Princesses Prefer Pink: Irene.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: The King instantly believes Irene about the goblins.
  • Speech Impediment: The Goblin prince has a wet lisp who sprays saliva over everyone.
  • Staircase Tumble: How Curdie hurts his leg. (In the book he's hit by a crossbow.)
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: The few guards that defend the castle are so grossly incompetent that it makes one wonder how the kingdom has managed to last so long under their protection.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Despite the fact that their feet are their weak spot, only one goblin in the entire film ever thinks to wear shoes.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Curdie grabbing a sword and joining the guards to fight the goblins, and Irene going to the caves to rescue Curdie by herself.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: The Goblins hate and are utterly repelled by singing (even their pets), and this allows the humans to drive back their forces.
  • You Didn't Ask: After narrowly escaping the tunnels full of evil goblins, Irene wants to kiss Curdie to thank him for saving her life, but they are interrupted by Lootie.
    Lootie: (hollering insistently from the castle grounds) Princess Irene!!!
    Curdie: "Princess?!" You didn't tell me you were a princess!
    Irene: You didn't ask.

Alternative Title(s):

The Princess And The Goblin