Frozen: On Villains, True Love, and the Friendzone [Spoilers]
Before you think I’m fast and loose about handing out movie recommendations, I only write about movies that I like. I subscribe to the “if you don’t have anything nice to say” doctrine because why waste time on things I don’t like?
That being said, the obvious direction of this post is this: go see Frozen.
If it’s humanly possible, drop what you’re doing and go see it right now.
Honestly, I’m not kidding. Get up. Buy a ticket. Get to the theater. See this movie.
The rest of this post is spoilers.
Frozen is the Disney movie I’ve been waiting for all my life. That being said, as I watched the movie, I wasn’t sure they were going to do what I wanted. When they reached the climax of the movie, I almost applauded. (While simultaneously yelling at the screen, “How dare you make me cry my own my own tears!”)
In The Atlantic, perhaps as a real analysis, or perhaps as an attempt to be provocative (if that’s the case, like many Disney films, wish granted), Frozen is put on trial as a bad Disney movie because Anna does not find her Prince Charming. And, while that point isn’t even accurate (was that kiss with Kristoff at the end not enough?), it’s also misleading.
The Atlantic argues that making Hans, our Prince Charming, the villain, is unnecessary and upsetting, especially to young viewers. It’s something that a younger audience can’t understand. That girls need to be allowed to dream of a safe, wonderful Prince Charming.
First of all, I saw the movie two days after Christmas, over a month since the movie came out, and it was full. This was a 200 seat theater and we were packed in like sardines. Most of them were children. I could barely hear the music from the movie over the sound of all the kids singing along. So, while every other theater in America might be empty because children are too upset or fearful to see the movie enough to have it memorized, the one in Texas sure wasn’t. Or maybe it’s their cruel parents dragging them to the movie merely to upset them more.
But, I think it’s more accurate to say that kids love this film. I see many a worn out DVD in the future.
Second, if you were fooled by Hans, you were watching a different movie. Writer/director Jennifer Lee is smart. She throws the hints in there aplenty. And, while I agree this form of storytelling might be too subtle for the younger set, the hints were there the whole time. Throughout the film, we, the audience, don’t fall in love with Hans. We fall in love with Kristoff. All the pieces are in place.
The point I’m trying to make is this.
While The Atlantic claims dreaming about Prince Charming is harmless, it actually can be a detriment. Anna is so convinced she has found her Prince Charming in Hans, she fails to see the Prince Charming in Kristoff, who has been completely and utterly friendzoned.
The line where Kristoff kids Anna about only knowing Hans for one day is a stab at every Disney movie of all time. And, it’s a much needed dose of reality in the spoonful of Disney sugar.
There are bad people in the world. There are bad people that look like nice people. There are nice people that look like bad people. Sometimes, the only way to tell them apart is to get to know them.
Third, Disney finally gets off the romantic love high-horse and talks about a different kind of love that is as true as one with any Prince Charming.
At the end of the movie, instead of running to Kristoff to get her True Love’s kiss, Anna sacrifices herself to save her sister.
And that is the act of True Love that is needed to break the curse.
Do you understand how big that is? Do you understand how wonderful it finally is to have a Disney movie say, “You can truly love someone in ways other than romance?” To say an act of True Love isn’t always something that happens to you, it’s something you can do to others?
And the beauty of this movie is that they had me fooled. I wanted SO BADLY for the ending they gave me. And as the climax of the movie came, I thought, “If she reaches Kristoff and has True Love’s Kiss, I swear, Disney, I will hate you forever.” And it looked like that was what they were exactly going to do. But, they didn’t.
The payoff was SO GOOD.
Finally, Disney has never denied us a villain. It has never reached over-sugar-saturation to deny that there is darkness in the world. Look at some of the greatest Disney villains: Mother Gothel of Tangled, Scar from The Lion King, and Lady Tremaine from Cinderella are all parental figures and family members that betray the children. Are children afraid of their parents now? Is that not equally or more upsetting than the betrayal of a prince? Maleficent of Sleeping Beauty, Ursula of The Little Mermaid, and Jafar of Aladdin are all-powerful constricts that the heroes have no control over. How is that not upsetting? Things in life will happen to you that are wholly out of your control. Dark.
Prince “Charming” as the villain is not a new idea, even to the Disney movie. The idea of a corrupted Prince Charming was already introduced to us in Beauty and the Beast with Gaston, however, that heroine was too savvy for him. Just because Hans is sneakier or subtle does not make him more (or less) of a monster than any other villain.
In the end, perhaps we expect too much of a simple Disney movie. You can’t expect to learn every life lesson from a movie made for children. The thing I love about Frozen is that it’s not about Prince Charming. It’s about the love between two sisters. So, I’ll leave you with a quote from my other favorite Disney movie:
Merlin: “Ah, you know, lad, that love business is a powerful thing.”
Arthur: “Greater than gravity?”
Merlin: “Well, yes, boy. In its way, I’d, uh… Yes, I’d say it’s the greatest force on earth.”
[Sword in the Stone]