Do you want to build a snowman? If you haven’t been hiding under a troll for the last few years, you’ve heard this line from a song in the popular children’s movie Frozen. People of all ages have fallen in love with the music and the story. Despite its often lighthearted tone, it teaches valuable lessons about the perils of infatuation and individuality, ending with a powerful display of true love.
Frozen may best be described as fun, yet foreboding. The first three songs are each a testament to this overall tone. As the movie opens, workers sing about the cold mountain ice they cut and deliver for a living, and it’s a fun song with steady rhythm. As it finishes, though, they warn “beware the frozen heart.” This is a mysteriously-placed warning, and for a first-time viewer, it’s unclear what they’re talking about. The next song, “Do You Want to Build a Snowman,” starts as a sweet story of two sisters being best friends, goes on to feature their parents dying in a shipwreck, and ends with the sisters growing apart because of Elsa’s ice gift. Several years later, it’s coronation day, when the sisters sing “For the First Time in Forever.” Anna is excited to meet everyone (perhaps “The One”), but Elsa is fearful of her power becoming visible. These first few tracks are a continuing reminder that, while the movie is meant to be enjoyed by children of all ages, there are issues that must be dealt with. The presence of Olaf is the only thing that keeps the plot from burrowing itself in a dark and snowy hole once everything has gone wrong.
One theme of Frozen is a powerful argument against love at first sight, but the scriptwriters do a masterful job of letting this point flow naturally with the plot. You may recall, for instance, that Elsa’s powerful display and dramatic exit are brought about by Anna’s sudden news that she is marrying Hans, a prince who introduced himself to her that day. As Elsa says, “You can’t marry a man you just met,” to which Anna replies, “You can if it’s true love!” This not only provides the stepping stones for the plot to follow, but it also sets this love story apart from the ones featured in other Disney films. At first, when they fall in love after a few run-ins and a song, the viewer may be rolling her eyes and saying “This is just like every other love-at-first-sight story.” We discover later, of course, that Hans has sinister intentions. This isn’t Sleeping Beauty’s kiss or Cinderella’s dance. It’s all a fraud brought about by a poor, conniving, thirteenth son who knows he’ll never have a chance at the throne in his own kingdom. It ends up being, then, that the only love at first sight in this movie turns out to be hollow.
The second prominent theme of the film is individuality. The most popular song in the score, “Let It Go,” is about Elsa giving up on her facade and depending on herself for happiness. Her life has been characterized by fear, and this is the moment where she stops being afraid and decides to just be herself. However, this is not a healthy version of individuality. Later, we see that the fear is still there; she worries that if she goes back down to the people, she will hurt them. The real way to deal with the fear is connection, not escape. Incidentally, this is a lesson that Kristoff learns as well. When we first meet him, his desire is to be a rugged solitary mountain man who harvests ice. He doesn’t want to help Anna and he certainly doesn’t care to fall in love with her. Only as their journey progresses and she fights off a pack of wolves does he begin to see her differently. When he hears her story and the circumstances that led to this crisis, he gives startled feedback that helps her understand how ridiculous the “love story” really is. Later, they fall in love, and it’s not about singing cute songs or having things in common, it’s one based on care and true knowledge of each other. Though Kristoff begins as a lone individual, he finds Anna to be a loving companion, and gives up his individuality to care for another and let another care for him. Through Elsa and Kristoff’s characters, we see two individuals learning to let others into their lives.
Frozen resolves with a heartwarming display of sisterly devotion. Kristoff doesn’t ride in, clad in shining armor, and Hans certainly doesn’t lend a helping hand. While some may call this a feminist statement, it’s actually about much more. Too often, books, TV shows, and movies try to solve all trials with love. This is a lie being ingrained into the minds of young girls and boys. Contrary to this, problems do not disappear when love is introduced. If anything, more issues are added. No one is perfect, and adding another person to the equation doesn’t alter this fact. The ending of Frozen is exactly the reunion of siblings that it needed to be. If Kristoff (or Hans) magically saved everyone, the plot of the movie would be in shambles. Later on, it’s clear that Anna and Kristoff end up together, but it’s not the point of the movie. It’s not about heart-fluttering, mind-blanking, tongue-twisting infatuation. It’s about everyday love and compassion for others.
While many people mock Frozen simply because it’s popular, there’s a lot to be learned from it, and the lessons it teaches are valuable for the children who watch it. The movie maintains a fun tone while dealing with a dark plot, and gives powerful lessons about infatuation, individuality, and true love that will impact the children who have seen it. Frozen isn’t just another Disney love story. It’s a thought-out lesson for children of an infatuation-crazed generation.
As you may have guessed by the formal tone, I wrote this for my writing class, which will be coming to an end soon. I’ll miss it, but I know I’ll enjoy Summer.
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