As if there aren't enough people talking about Frozen already, even way past its release date, here's my take on the Disney movie and why it has stuck with me (and not just because of its songs, which seem to only gain popularity as the weeks go on). (Spoiler alert: if by some cruel twist of fate you have not yet seen Frozen, you should go watch it and then come back.)
First of all, I have to admit I love Disney movies, no matter how cheesy they may be. However, I did go into the movie with high expectations and hopes for change, if only because it was about time Disney did something new and I'd heard that Disney really went above and beyond with this one. Yet when Anna suddenly decided she was in love with Hans after only one song, I almost groaned. Was this going to be another one of those movies? Did she really just fall in love one hundred times faster than any previous Disney character? Was that even possible? When the trolls told Anna that only an act of true love can save her, I may have smacked my head and did the biggest eye role ever. Let me guess, I thought, she's going to go running back to Hans, who is going to save the day. Hooray.
Fortunately, Frozen was surprisingly refreshing in that the story plot did neither of these things. Both Elsa and Kristoff voiced their doubts about how two people could fall in love so quickly, and by the end of the movie, we learn the supposed love between Anna and Hans was indeed false. A Disney movie has finally shown the world and its children that true love doesn't always happen quickly and that it doesn't always work out with the first guy you meet. It also showed that love can be in unexpected places, not always in the places you believe or want them to be in. Thank you for finally being realistic, Disney!
As for the whole act of true love debacle, I've seen a lot of tweets about Frozen from people who say something along the lines that Frozen is their favorite movie because Anna's sister, Elsa, saved Anna, rather than the traditional man-saves-princess. Instead, I'd argue that Disney went a step even further. Anna, rather than running to Kristoff to save her life, ran to protect her sister from Hans. Anna was willing to die for her sister, both by Hans' sword and by the ice, rather than protect herself by going to Kristoff. I think that was the real act of true love, a sign that the heroine can save herself and doesn't always have to be hopeless and in the hands of others. True, Elsa did end up in tears and Elsa's love is the key to thawing the land, but I like to think that it just took a while for the unfreezing to kick in. Plus, when Elsa is stunned that Anna sacrificed herself for Elsa, Anna replies "I love you," to which Olaf gasps and repeats the phrase about an act of true love thawing a frozen heart. It points to Anna's brave act, and plus I think the fact that Anna loved her sister so much that she was ready to die for Elsa was a bigger act of true love than Elsa's tears.
Aside from the overarching messages, which are obviously my favorite part about Frozen, I think the characters themselves also lent a lot to the overall tone and message. Elsa struggled with being different from everyone else, and in light of her initial inability to accept herself, she continued to isolate herself and fought her gifts. However, she eventually learns that her differences do not necessarily mean she's bad or imperfect, and Elsa shows us the warmth that comes with love, self-acceptance and acceptance by others. I especially loved how, while building the ice castle and singing the now-popular song "Let It Go," she was the picture of confidence while embracing her powers. Every time I think of that scene, I'm awed by the way she literally lets go, and I see her transformation of sorts as a sign of freedom, of her finally being able to be herself and empower herself. Kudos to Disney for the lesson on self-acceptance.
Anna showed us the beauty of unconditional love, and she was our steadfast, strong character who believed in the good of others and never gave up. She refused to jump on the bandwagon when everyone else turned against Elsa, and Anna went to such great lengths out of love for her sister. Disney reinforced sibling love, and between this and Brave, I love how Disney is putting an increased emphasis on familial love rather than romantic love. On top of that, as if Anna isn't already perfect enough, she personified goodness, optimism and hope.
Kristoff is made to seem like a blockhead at first, one that doesn't have any chance of becoming a potential love interest. He's not a prince, nor does he have a great occupation or fancy clothing. Not only that, but he sings and talks to his pet reindeer. He's big and bulky, and he's without an ounce of royal sophistication. Yet Kristoff shows the audience that love comes in all sizes, shapes and appearances. A guy shouldn't be counted out for superficial things; what matters is the heart he has on the inside and that he cares for Anna (unlike Hans), and I think this was especially a great chance for Disney to show that the less obvious choice can sometimes be the best one.
I found Hans particularly interesting because he was utterly the stereotypical Prince Charming of pretty much every Disney movie. He seems to be Anna's obvious future husband, complete with royal blood, fancy clothes and singing abilities. He looks to be the goody-two-shoes, yet he as a secret, dark side of him, making him a villain in disguise. Sometimes the brightest and shiniest isn't always the nicest -- or the most honest.
Of course, I don't think I have to explain too much why Olaf and Sven are adorable characters that you cannot hate. They're the typical, silly supporting characters that every Disney movie cannot go without. They are the Pascal and Maximus of Tangled and the Raymond (Ray) and Louis of Princess and the Frog. Sven is the loyal best friend for Kristoff; Olaf is the heart of the childhood and innocence stripped from Elsa at too young an age. Beyond that, they're just cute and hilarious.
Should Disney make a Frozen sequel? My answer is no. Disney's been going a little sequel-crazy of late, but I think this falls into the same category as Tangled. They had nice, strong plots, and both featured clean, tight endings. Both movies also had older characters. I don't think Disney should risk ruining such nice movies and their endings. A happily-ever-after is a happily-ever-after. Plus, what would Disney do? These aren't Toy Story, where some other trouble could befall the toys, or Cars, where there's another adventure and race to be found; these are the stories of girls who looked for and found love and had their own happy ending. (Even so, I know I'll still totally go see the sequel if Disney makes one.)
What should Disney do next? Like the popular petition going around on the Internet, I think Disney should have a plus-sized princess or main character. Unlike what some people have criticized, it wouldn't necessarily be an encouragement of "unhealthy behavior." Instead, it would be teaching tolerance different kinds of people and showing that love does come in all sizes. Plus, it would also be a response to the terrifying rates of very young, "average"-sized girls who are dieting or want to diet and lose weight. However, I would also settle for a more "normal" sized girl as a first step forward at this point, rather than characters that look like Barbie dolls with eyes the size of half their head.
I also think it would be great if Disney made another movie that isn't about princes or princesses but one that still had just humans in it. Not humans that turn into some kind of animal or humans that are under a spell to resemble objects. Can we just have people who aren't royalty and don't have some other non-human aspect(s)?
Following along that people line, I also think Disney should make a movie featuring a young, human male main character. Not a male racing car, as in Cars, but a guy. Has anyone else noticed that almost all Disney movies featuring a male main character were about toys or automobiles? I don't think "boy movies" should be stereotyped into basically anything without people, and it would be nice to give boys a good image or model to look to. The only case I can think of from recent years (or ever) when Disney had a male, human main character in a movie was Up, which had an absolutely beautiful story that everyone loved. I'd love to see what they could come up with for a younger man, as well. Plus, Disney already does a splendid job of making lovable guy characters (like Kristoff or Flynn Rider), anyways.
Lastly, I wish Disney would make more characters of greater ethnic diversity, and they simultaneously need to focus on not being overly stereotypical or culturally insensitive while doing so. The truth is, most of the world lives in places with people from more than one ethnic heritage, and it would be beautiful for Disney to embrace these variances. The Princess and the Frog wasn't enough; Disney must keep going.
All four of these things have a similar quality: realism. I think Disney should make movies that are more realistic and reflective of the world we live in today. Love isn't just about fairytales or princesses or inanimate objects. Disney should be teaching children that love isn't restricted and that all kinds of people can love and be loved. Love shouldn't be conditional. Additionally, I love the fact that they're starting to shift away from the dependency of the damsel in distress who needs their one true love, a man, to save them. The fact that Disney has given more of their recent characters strength and independency shows empowerment, and showing children -- especially girls -- to embrace their inner strength is beautiful and essential in today's world.
I strongly believe that Disney can follow modern times and reflect changes in societal views and values, and I have faith that Disney can do it all while still holding with the tender sweetness and love that makes Disney Disney.