Yea, yea, yea. I know. It’s nearly 3 years late, but I finally got around to watching Frozen. So, I want to talk about it now. Let’s go.
WARNING – I am going into detail about the plot of a movie which is nearly 3 years old with running commentary about my opinion. Okay, you were warned.
The story follows two sisters – Anna and Elsa, who are princesses in the fictional Scandinavian kingdom of Arendelle. Early in the plot, it’s revealed what we all know from pictures, advertisements and music – Elsa has magic powers. Incredible powers. She can summon ice and cold from within herself creating snow inside the home. After an incident where Anna is seriously injured, her parents decide to keep the children separated and manipulate Anna’s memories (through magic we don’t see again later on) to ensure she forgets about Elsa’s powers. They limit who can come in/out of the castle to ensure as Elsa learns to control her powers, there is minimal chance for others to get hurt. Anna desperately wants to see her sister, but Elsa is kept away as Anna sings the heartbreaking number “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” At this point in the plot, I have heard the complaints – “Why did her parents do something so awful, keeping those sisters away from each other?” I hear you. But, let’s imagine this – it’s the mid-1800s and one of your children has ridiculous magic powers which at one point almost killed her sister. What do you do? There is no widespread magic in the world, this and the trolls are all they know about existing. So, what do you do? Do you exile her to somewhere else where someone can help her with her powers or keep her segregated from society to keep her safe like Aurora’s parents did? Sleeping Beauty is really the most comparable Disney princess as she too was cursed in some way which made the parents nervous of her being at home. I’d argue that Elsa and Anna’s parents made a more loving, humane decision to keep her at home instead of hiding her in the woods being raised by fairies and never seeing their daughter until she turned 16 like Aurora’s parents. But, that’s just me.
Elsa’s parents wanted her to get out a little more. Wanted her to interact with her sister. You can see the struggle within them as they wanted their daughters to play, but Elsa’s powers were too strong and she was too weak at the time to control them. She felt too weak. Elsa kept alienating herself. Yes, she started doing this as a child – but much of the alienation came from her as from her parents. But, I digress.
As with many Disney princesses, her parents end up dying. Elsa is ready to assume the throne as Queen. At this coming of age party, Anna meets Hans. Hans seems like a nice guy – youngest son in a different kingdom and the two seem to have an on the spot connection. They decide to get married after an adorable musical number (“Love is an Open Door”). When they reveal their plamns to Elsa, this is when everything falls apart. Elsa gets annoyed, understandably, at her sister wanting to get married at effectively the first non-servant/family male she meets in life. That’s when her powers, uncontrolled, come out and are revealed to everyone. She never wanted them to, neither did her parents. “Conceal, don’t feel” she had repeated to herself as her father had taught her to try to keep her powers in check. It failed at this point and she escapes sending Arendelle into perpetual winter. She then begins to embrace the power in the comfort of her hidden ice fortress she made for herself, belting out in Idina Menzel’s wonderful voice “Let it Go.”
The plot from there involves Anna trying to save her sister from herself and the very human evil of Hans. Hans pretends to be the hero here, acting kind toward the people running things while Anna and Elsa are gone. Then, when he gets the chance – he turns coat and is prepared to murder Elsa, let Anna die, and take over the kingdom.
Hans is human evil. There are various types of Disney villains out there. Some are supernatural evil, like Maleficent. They are over the top powerful monsters, literally. They are hard to relate to at times because their powers, their problems are supernatural and larger than life. Hans is not. Hans is a man plain and simple. A man who wants power. He is willing to do whatever it takes to get said power. This includes murder to gain the throne. I am reminded of Macbeth and his willingness to murder his friend, King Duncan, because it would get him closer to the throne. Hans manipulated the situation to put himself into a position of power, then executed the plan once everyone else had trusted him, believed everything he said. Once that happened, the evil side of his plan came to light. It made the earlier “Love is an Open Door” into a much more tragic song instead of the cute, bubbly ballad it originally plays as. Hans doesn’t love her, he isn’t falling for her in some quirky twist of fate only found in the movies. He’s playing poor, gullible Anna.
On the other hand, we have Kristoff. An ice merchant who was raised by trolls. Kristoff ends up falling for Anna and she for him. Their interactions are some of the best parts of the movie. The dialogue between the two of them especially is wonderfully written. Their gradual romance is adorable and well done over the course of the plot. It’s funny and cute as they during the climax of the film simultaneously (while nowhere near one another) realize they were in love.
Now, let me say this – Anna is the strong sister. Even when she is weak due to the magical ice in her heart, she is strong for her sister, putting her own life in jeopardy to save her sister. She is not a frail princess needing to be saved by a man. She’s strong, outspoken, clever, and very feminine. She didn’t need Hans or Kristoff to define her. She thought she wanted and needed Hans because she was so lonely. And, in the end, she wants Kristoff not because she needs someone else, but because he and her match on an emotional level they did not expect when they first met. In the song “Fixer Upper” in which Kristoff’s troll family does their very best at pointing out all of his flaws, this line really sums up their love the best, “We aren’t saying you can change him / ‘Cause people don’t really change / We’re only saying that love’s a force that’s powerful and strange / People make bad choices if they’re mad or scared or stressed / But throw a little love their way, and you’ll bring out their best / True love brings out the best.” They bring out better aspects of each other. Not because they are reliant upon the other, but because they compliment each other in a wonderful way. That’s love.
In the end, I rather liked Frozen, which is something I did not expect. It had great, emotional moments; the music was phenomenal; and the dialogue was top notch. I enjoyed the characters, but honestly Kristoff and Anna are my favorites. Their personal interplay stands out as the very best among an already well crafted movie. I look forward to seeing how they even figure out what a sequel will entail.