[EDIT] Thanks to James Southworth for pointing out a major typo in which I mixed up the names of the two lead males. Jokes on me.
I have a penchant for films set in cold, icy environments. Can’t believe I finally got to use the word penchant in a sentence. Anyway, the Nordic backdrop of “Frozen” makes for a fantastic setting, filled with snow-topped mountains, ancient folklore, and yet another chance for Disney to make a lasting impact on film.
“Frozen” is a story about two sisters: Anna (Kristen Bell), and Elsa (Idina Menzel). The two grew up together, and while Anna was a particularly boring and quite regular little daughter to the king and queen she was raised by, Elsa possessed some strange abilities to control the powers of ice and snow. One day, as the two are gallivanting about—in a way that only sisters could understand—Elsa accidentally blasts Anna in the face, sending her into an ice-induced magic coma of sorts. It’s a foreshadow for sure, and while Anna is saved by some trolls that her father, the king (Maurice LaMarche), is friends with somehow, Elsa’s parents instruct her to hide away her abilities, as they only present danger. After all, if everyone in the kingdom finds out, they are sure to view her as a freak and a threat. The wonderful sisterhood that the two once shared is put indefinitely on hold as the situation quickly turns almost into a Rapunzel-esque thing. Elsa’s door is always locked, the king and queen pass away, and Anna pounds on Elsa’s door everyday to try to provoke her, so they can be sisters again (the life-saving magic blocked Anna’s recollection of why this whole shindig got twisted in the first place).
A big coronation takes place to crown Elsa as queen, forcing her to open up the palace, which has been hidden for so long. Anna meets a nice boy named Hans (Santino Fontana), who is actually a prince himself, and the two hit it off, and before you know it, are pledged to be married. They met that same day, so it’s kind of weird, but it’s Disney, so what did you expect? We meet an old man, known as Duke (Alan Tudyk), and he’s kind of a villain, but not really. Actually he’s more a waste of space to be honest. Eventually, Elsa’s powers are discovered, magic explodes everywhere, everyone is terrified, Elsa runs away, and finally our catalyst takes place, forcing Anna to leave Hans in control to help the people, as she goes on a quest to find Elsa. Along the way, we meet a lowly ice salesman named Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) and the living snowman Olaf (Josh Gad).
Now, “Frozen” is being hailed as Disney’s next “Lion King”. Where “Lion King” was hailed for it’s time as being innovative in animation, as well as musically, “Frozen” pushes the barriers of musical-animation in our era, while driving forth absolutely breathtaking visuals. In a time where Hollywood is franchise and sequel-minded, “Frozen” is a great example of originality, and offers a fresh breath in the midst of excruciatingly boring and terribly unimaginative animated films, like “Planes” or “Free Birds” (Oh, I get the joke now. It’s about turkeys, and it happens to be released around Thanksgiving. How clever.)
This is a film where Disney has truly succeeded. While I’m not comfortable worshiping Elsa and Olaf, comparing them to Simba, Timon, and Pumba, I can say with ease that “Frozen” is unashamed of it’s characters and what they stand for.
Disney–known for it’s mostly impossible, formed over a day’s time romances—is able to tell a love story, without it being the main focus. To be honest, by the time you leave the theater, you didn’t much care for Anna and her pursuits in love. Anna is humorously clumsy. She says off-the-wall things. She’s adorable for it, and the best part is that she gets away with it. It doesn’t feel forced. Anna is a very genuine character. Her antics, along with the flagship song “Let it Go”, should communicate a message to teenage girls everywhere that it is totally okay to be who you are. The words “I don’t care what they’re going to say” may feel a bit post-modern in their delivery, but they stand for a timeless message. I really do like this about “Frozen”. I love the courage of “Pocahontas”, and the craving for unfulfilled love that “Snow White” brings to life, but Anna’s character allows us a glimpse into a life that doesn’t really give a rip about the opinions of others. Seek advice, wisdom, and counsel, but you can’t please everyone, and Anna and Elsa just get it by the end of their journey.
On the topic of the two, I don’t get the whole sisters thing. I’m a boy. I’ve grown up with two sisters. When I was young, it was nothing short of obnoxious. Having added more years of experience to my life, I can appreciate their bond a bit more now. I felt lost during some of Elsa and Anna’s banter together, but anyone who does share the sisterly bond should feel quite at home. It is a powerful thing when film can communicate ever so clearly a message and feeling like the importance of family relationships. Yes, they fight. Yes, they can’t agree on everything, but what matters most is finding reconciliation. Anna searches long and far to find that reconciliation in Elsa.
One final theme which became very evident to me in “Frozen” is probably the more subtle theme of reconciliation in broken families. The two sister’s parents refused to deal with the issue of Elsa’s magic. They chose to hide Elsa away from everyone, severing the bond between the two girls. It was their choice that eventually led to a kingdom covered in unnatural weather, leading to impoverished subjects, and a plethora of other problems. Once the parents died, it was up to Anna to fix things. In a country where the divorce rate is very high, and the incident of casual relationships are even higher, “Frozen” speaks a message that should hit close to home for many.
“Chris, it’s just a Disney movie made for the lols! You are thinking about it too much!”
The films that you least expect to have a redemptive impact on our culture sometimes surprise you. Don’t disregard Disney. This is a powerful script, which is smartly written, wryly clever, and over-the-top, yet thematically, it’s covered under piles of snow, and takes some time and thought to figure out what it’s really all about. There are a few sequences in “Frozen” that I likely won’t forget, most notable being Elsa’s song “Let It Go”, where she constructs a castle of ice in a five-minute period. The movement of the camera with the animation of Elsa’s shimmering home is hopefully what will drive Academy voters to present Disney with yet another Oscar for best animated film.
If you haven’t already, take some time to bring the family to see “Frozen”. Regardless, any seasoned movie-goer should put this in their schedule as well. Forget about the parades of teenage and college girls who will probably be belting out the lyrics to every beautifully written song in the film for months to come, this movie really is something, isn’t it?