As part of a bunch of movies being tossed around the office, I ended up watching Frozen. Disney animated movies haven’t been my movies of choice for quite some time, but I can see why they retain their popularity; Frozen was a decent little feel-good film whose themes rang true to me.
I’ve got spoilers on this one, but it’s a Disney animated film, so your mileage may vary.
As in most movies of this ilk, it doesn’t waste any time setting up the central conflict: Elsa can wield cold magic and she accidentally hits her younger sister, Anna, in the head. Anna starts to freeze, and in order to save her, she is forced to forget about Elsa’s magic, and Elsa can no longer use magic around her. Elsa isolates herself from everyone (including Anna), until…
…Elsa’s coronation party. Anna decides she wants to marry the first guy she meets (Hans), Elsa panics and uses some cold magic, the people of the country rebel calling her a witch, and she runs off to the mountains, leaving the country in a sudden winter.
There are issues with this opening of conflict, but it works for me on a couple of levels. First, I like how Elsa is the voice of reason to her sister, noting that true love is not falling for the first guy you meet at a party. This is the Chekov’s Gun of the story and the thematic thrust of the movie, and it tickles me to have both so in harmony so early (hint, hint). Second, I like how concise this opening is – it sets up just enough of the world to kickstart the conflict and no more. This lets the main part of the movie feel a lot less rushed, and still fit into a rather short running time.
On the flip side, though, the opening deceives the viewer, by setting up a non-existent conflict (which I found particularly grating). When the trolls heal Anna the first time, they remove her memories of Elsa’s magic, and they tell Elsa and her parents that Elsa can’t use her magic around Anna any more (granted, they don’t say, “or else …”). The implication is that this would undo the healing, and reinforces the first conflict (Elsa isolating herself from Anna). However, pretty quickly, we find out this isn’t true – there are no consequences to this, and, in fact, Anna seems pretty nonplussed when Elsa starts flinging ice magic around (where everyone else calls her a witch and loses their senses). Without this contrivance, Elsa’s isolation needs a bit more work to achieve, so this feels a bit like a writing shortcut, and it could have been better.
For the remainder of the film, Anna goes after Elsa, and meets up with another (more ruggedly) handsome guy (Christoff). They go adventuring together, and when Elsa accidentally hits Anna with ice again (this time in the heart), Christoff is the one to take her to the trolls where we find out that only true love can save her this time. The rush back to the castle to meet up with Hans to find out that… …Nope, Hans isn’t her true love, so she runs out of the castle to find Christoff… …and instead finds Elsa battling for her life. Anna sacrifices herself for Elsa and discovers that familial love is truer than any other.
This theme, to me, was what made the movie both interesting and meaningful. I think it’s a pretty weak comparison to say that the love you have for your family is truer than the one-night stand you had with the handsome prince or the ruggedly handsome guy you adventured with for a week. But, I’ll take what I can get, and hope that the step-mothers and sisters of the Disney world get a shot at some point.
Overall, I found this movie to be pretty enjoyable. For the theme alone, I’d say it’s about three-and-a-half golden snowflakes – better than average, even if it’s not really my thing.