Friday, April 25, 2014

Time To Talk About Frozen

(Spoilers will show up in the following post)!

Frozen is a great movie filled with amazing songs, love experts, and horrible parenting. But we'll get back to that third one in a minute.

In case you need a quick background - Elsa and Anna are sisters and close friends until Elsa accidentally hurts Anna with her ice powers. The king brings Anna to the trolls and they are able to save her, but in return, they caution Elsa about her powers. When Elsa runs away from the kingdom, Anna teams up with Kristoff, Sven and Olaf to go after her.

So let's get to the songs. You guys, it is beautiful. The movie is just jam-packed with catchy (and occasionally heartbreaking) songs. There's just music everywhere and I love it. Of course, everyone has heard about "Let It Go," but "Do You Want to Build a Snowman?" and "First Time In Forever" are also quite wonderful songs that set the tone of the movie - hope and excitement mixed with loss, sadness and fear.

Even the goofy duet between Anna and her love interest Hans ("Love is an Open Door") is great. The two characters sing about how they're so in love that they finish each others sandwiches. (The song opens with Anna saying, "Can I say something crazy?" and Hans replying, "I love crazy!" to give you an idea of their courtship.)

But of course, the silliest song moment goes to Olaf the snowman. Olaf's biggest wish is to feel heat for the first time. Kristoff says, "I'm guessing you don't have much experience with heat" and Olaf responds with a show-stopping full song-and-dance routine to show his anticipation for "when I finally find out what frozen things do in summer!"

Olaf the snowman is only one of the many love experts in the movie; Kristoff also knows a few of them - he and Sven grew up with the trolls. And the trolls are indeed love experts. They have a great song called "Fixer Upper" in which they sing a few of my favorite lines to Anna:

"We're not saying you can change him
Because people don't really change ...
People make bad choices if they're mad
Or scared or stressed.
Throw a little love their way
And you'll bring out their best!"

These lines speak about accepting people for who they are and understanding that when people feel accepted and loved, they're more likely to respond in kind. No, this doesn't work in extreme cases, but in general, it's a great philosophy.

And later, Olaf reveals exactly what makes him a love expert. When he starts a fire to save Anna's life, he sits down with her. Anna tells him to move so he won't melt and he smiles up at Anna, telling her that, "some people are worth melting for." He explains how love is about making other people a priority and understanding when their needs are more important than your own needs. He also moves away from the fire before he melts completely to show that you don't need to ignore your own needs completely.

Unfortunately, that brings us to Elsa and Anna's parents, who do not understand what their children need at all. After Elsa accidentally hurts Anna, they decide the best course of action is to reduce their staff, close the gates to the castle and never let Elsa see Anna again. This is done under the idea that isolating Elsa will help her learn to control her power. I mostly have to ignore this part of the movie, because it makes me want to scream. Yes, deal with your daughter's powers by making her spend her days alone, unable to play like a little girl or feel close to anyone. Does that sound like the start of a supervillain to you? In Elsa's case, she only accidentally freezes the kingdom into an eternal winter, but plenty of honest-to-goodness supervillains have done less.

Meanwhile, this leaves Anna to grow up alone and unable to make other friends since the castle gates are closed off. She sings about how "it gets a little lonely, all these empty rooms" and how she's "started talking to the pictures on the wall." This, also, sounds like a less than ideal upbringing. And her loneliness is highlighted in the way that she agrees to marry basically the first guy who looks at her.

Their parents aren't the only ones who deserve the blame though. Those danged trolls, the so-called love experts, could have sang their song about love for the king and queen instead of waiting fifteen years later to sing it to Anna. The whole climax of the movie is based on the idea that true love will thaw a frozen heart. That love can thaw. This is literally what Elsa says as she lifts her arms up and manages to unfreeze everything. Based on Anna sacrificing her life for her (It's ok. She gets better), Elsa realizes she is loved and instantly gains control over her powers.


I'm not saying the king and queen didn't love Elsa. I'm just saying that the whole movie shouldn't have happened because the trolls should have sang their song about love at the beginning of the movie instead of the middle. (But I guess the trolls didn't pass the love expert boards until sometime during Elsa's exile at home. They could have sent the king and queen a singing telegram!)

Obviously I'm willing to overlook this questionable plot point in order to enjoy the parts of the movie that excel - the great songs, the fun characters and the exciting scenes. I've already watched Frozen several times and it is dangerously close to Mulan as my favorite Disney movie. Silas asks to watch Frozen daily, even weeks after he saw it last. Parents can highlight the part about accepting others when they watch the movie with their kids. And I will sing along to every song without one iota of shame.

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