“Only an act of true love can thaw a frozen heart.”
First note, spoilers ahead, so skim in caution! Second, I really liked this movie. Sure, it suffered from weaker songwriting, and I still don’t know why Josh Gad was a snowman in this movie or what the purpose of that character was (just comic relief?), but I walked out smiling all the same. What I didn’t expect though, was unpredictability. Seriously though, in a Disney princess movie? Don’t these all follow the same formula drawn up by Walt all those decades ago? Let’s go over a few surprises:
- There was no clear bad guy for the majority of the movie! Kinda maybe thought the twist with Hans were coming, but still, excellent execution. In fact, I wouldn’t of minded if the only “bad guy” was the Queen’s fear of her own power.
- Having already seen Tangled, I started rolling my eyes when Kristoff looks like he’s going to save the day with his “act of true love” to unfreeze Anna. I assumed this was just another rehashing of the prince saving the damsel in distress. But, twist, the act of true love is sisterly love when Elsa throws her arms around her frozen body and weeps. Though I am getting sick of the emotional roller coaster Disney is trying to create with this ending (virtually the same in Tangled), this change was unique and welcome.
Once the movie was over, I eagerly looked through the credits to see if there were any hints to why the movie had such a new perspective on the princess story. It only took a second for the director slide to appear and show that there were two directors, one man (Chris Buck, director of Tarzan) and one woman (Jennifer Lee, screenwriter of Wreck it Ralph and Frozen). Now, I’m sure it was a collaborative effort, but I’m inclined to think that Ms. Lee was a big part of changing that “true love’s kiss” that occurs at the end of every Disney princess film. This is an awesome message to young girls (I watched it with my little sister who also loved it of course). On top of that, Anna is really awkward and goofy just like a real person! I could write a whole other article about how I feel Disney has often been a poor influence on young girls, but they got it right this time by creating a character that is relatable and virtually saves herself, without the help of a dashing prince.
There’s nothing I love more than when a movie takes familiar tropes and completely rewires them. Frozen did this admirably, telling a thrilling story with a positive feminist message. I hope it’s a sign of the future. It will be nice to see more Jennifer Lees at the helm!
Fun fact, the brilliant short “Get a Horse!” that shows before Frozen was directed by Laura MacMullen who became the first woman to solo direct a Disney animated film. She better not be the last!