Mar 10 2014

Why Frozen is Great in a Non-Traditional Way

Published by at 10:00 am under Editorials,Movies

"Frozen" Anna, Olaf, Kristoff, Sven

I finally got the chance to watch Frozen after putting it off for such a long time. I was travelling the entire time it was out so I couldn’t even if I wanted to. Every holiday party I went to was filled with people raving about how “great” it was. To be honest, the trailer didn’t really astonish me when I saw it. So after my friends decided they didn’t want to watch the sequel to 300, I decided to sate my curiosity once and for all. I was actually optimistic about it since I didn’t get what the hype was for Brave, but I ended up loving it and bawling my eyes out during the ending.

Basically, Frozen isn’t the most original and amazing Disney princess animated film. Is that a bad thing? No, in fact I still think that it was a great film and an important piece of pop culture for younger generations. Read on for more.

Frozen - Quote1

Growing up, my friends and I were bombarded with the traditional notions of being a woman from all kinds of pop culture mediums. Disney played a huge role in influencing children in my generation. My friends want to dress up like Disney princesses and somehow grew to adopt the same ideals as these fictional counterparts when it came to life and romance. Snow White taught us that someday a prince will come and subsequent films portrayed women as either damsels in distress whose major priority in life seemed to be getting a man. While we certainly have had protagonists who have challenged the status quo like Mulan or Pocahontasit still wasn’t enough to disrupt an established way of thinking. I was actually quite happy about Brave because Merida is actually the first Disney princess to not have a love interest. However, Brave focused more on the mother and daughter dynamic so this was still a bit subtle for me.

Then I saw Frozen and I loved how it seemed to mock the traditional notions that were present in their previous films for decades long. It was as if Disney is self-aware of how long it took them to catch up to modern ideas and is making fun of themselves in the process. Some reviewers were annoyed by how Anna fell into the princess stereotype right away, but I strongly felt that they did that on purpose and used her as a vehicle to show the transition between old and new ideas. Elsa and Kristoff pretty much scoff at the idea of Anna falling in love too fast pretty openly throughout the movie. In the end, she does see the repercussions of trusting someone she just met and the potential of even worse things happening if she married Hans. I don’t think it’s saying that marriage is bad, but it’s just something people should really think about.

I was also impressed by how no one questioned Elsa’s right to be a queen because of her gender. I was sort of expecting a plot that involved the other noblemen pushing a man to lead Arendelle just because she was a woman. It might sound like an idealistic portrayal of society, but this is how things should be ideally anyway. No gender discrimination when it comes to a person’s ability to lead. You also see this in Kristoff and he’s the type of guy who works side by side with Anna instead of coddling her like a damsel.

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When Kristoff came and it was suggested that he might be Anna’s “true love,” I felt kind of disappointed because they sort of just met too and I was worried that the film was taking a step backwards after moving forward. However, I was pleasantly surprised when the film didn’t rely on the man to save the day. In the end, it was the sacrificial act of Anna that saved  her sister, herself, and the whole kingdom of Arendelle. A lot of girls I know, myself included, were surprised about the act of true love twist. I think it was because of the fact that we were so used to the idea of “act of true love” in a heterosexual romantic context. You could say that Brave did this with Merida and Elinor, but the film did not have any active love interests to compete with the dynamic. So I guess I could say that Frozen really emphasized the idea clearly.

I really appreciated the fact that they didn’t have a story line where two women were fighting over a guy or were simply against one another. That gets pretty old! Interestingly, it was revealed that Elsa was supposedly a villain for the entire film but they felt that “Let it Go” was such a postive and empowering song that she had to be someone audiences would root for. Making Hans the villain conveys a valuable lesson not just about marriage, but also about trusting people in general. Women can be so caught up in being swept off their feet by prince charming that they tend to forget everything else.

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I almost forgot to mention that the film even briefly included a gay couple with children. They were the family in the shop Anna visited when she first met Kristoff. If I’m not mistaken, this is is the first time Disney ever did this. Sure, they weren’t really given much focus but these things should be done gradually. It won’t work if they just shock audiences with all these things at once. However, it’s a step that makes audiences optimistic that Disney is becoming more progressive.

Honestly, I’ve been blown away by other Disney films and I used to be so critical of recent films because I grew up in the renaissance era. I did lighten up because I realized that a film can be great for other reasons besides the other measures we use. For me, I think Frozen is a great film because it has the most modern ideas in a Disney princess movie and it is also important for younger generations. Media plays a role in how we perceive society and it’s tradition in addition to our place in it. Frozen deserves it’s praise and success for sending a number of integral and culturally relevant messages to young minds. While it might not be anything new to the world of animated films, it’s a step forward that will encourage future films to be more bold in shattering traditional ideals in family friendly films. If this film was terrible, the message wouldn’t come across well. Hey, I laughed, smiled, and cried watching this and it was definitely worth it.





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4 responses so far

  • Avi

    Maybe that Gay couple in the movie was just a family of orphans who banded together after Disney decided to kill off all their parents.
    You have more of a chance of surviving an Arnold movie than you do giving birth in a Disney movie.

  • Fortunato

    The whole gay family thing has been paraded around a lot and it’s really, really reaching. For one there is obviously a grown woman in that shot so maybe the trading post owner is polyamorus? It’s silly either way because he refers to the people in the sauna as his family, when was the last time you said “that’s my family” and it immediately meant you were in a sexual relationship. The argument for Elsa being gay or at least an analog for growing up a gay teen is much stronger in my opinion but the trading post family? Stretching.

  • Menwy Pace

    I made the mistake of watching the video of”Let it Go”before I saw the movie. I was so enamored by Elsa and the story that the song created in my mind,that the movie fell short. I was actually disappointed that Elsa was NOT the main character. I was also disappointed in the rest of the songs in the movie. They were nowhere near the level of “Let It Go”. They seemed like silly children’s songs in comparison. I felt like developing Elsa more, instead of focusing almost entirely on Anna would have made the movie better. Heck, you were more familiar with Hans than Elsa. They should have stuck more to the sister theme than veer off to the love interest between Anna and Hans. They seemed to be flailing around not really focusing on a single theme, but rather,trying to incorporate too much and just throwing it all together in the end.

    • David R

      I’d add to this two things, 1) the initial treatment of Elsa as a villain seems to still be present in the movie — particularly when she turns violent — and it feels incongruent with the rest of the piece, and 2) Frozen seems a little too eager to take potshots at Disney’s other movies instead of building a story of its own.

      I had the same problem with Enchanted, which happily mocked a character/story type that’s only really found in a handful of prior Disney features.

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