Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Disney's "Frozen" — An Ode to Female Independence and Solidarity

Frozen, Disney’s Thanksgiving present to the world, is making the rounds around Tumblr and Facebook as viewers across the globe are tantalized by the musical sensation that takes flight from the usual mold of Disney princesses, generally requiring the crutch of a prince to save the day, to a novel tale of two sisters and a kingdom of perpetual winter. The story propagates the message of why it is important for girls to stay united and support each other while also conveys the significance of independence for women.

The synopsis of Frozen revolves around the sisters, Elsa, who is apparently cryokinetic, and Anna. Elsa has no idea how to control her powers and one night, while the two sisters are playing, she injures her younger sibling which promptly churns the story into motion. Their parents seek help from the trolls to heal Anna following which her memories are scrubbed so she no longer remembers the events of her older sister hurting her. Meanwhile, Elsa, distraught, practically grounds herself in her room in despair. Their parents vow to lock the family in their castle until Elsa learns to control her powers.

Elsa’s decision to condemn herself in her room wedges a rift in between herself and her sister Anna. When the girls reach their teens, their parents are lost at sea consequent of a storm. As Elsa comes of age, she is lined up to be the queen and the kingdom of Arendelle prepares for her coronation. The gates of the castle are opened again and Anna ventures through town coming across Prince Hans. The two are infatuated while Elsa is crowned queen. During her reception, Hans proposes to Anna but Elsa refuses to allow her sister to marry a man she has just met. The two engage in an argument resulting Elsa in losing control of her powers plunging the kingdom into an endless winter.

Elsa, repulsed by what she has done, leaves Arendelle and exiles herself in her own solitary ice palace. Anna leaves on a quest to find her, coming across mountain man Kristoff and his reindeer Sven. As the story unfolds from there on, Disney unveils its greatest ace-in-the-hole with the dramatic reveal of Hans as the main antagonist of the movie.

This stands as Frozen’s most remarkable legacy. Following the events of Anna finding Elsa in the mountains and trying to convince her to return to Arendelle, the two argue once more and Elsa yet again injures Anna inadvertently. Anna slowly begins to freeze from the inside and it is told that she can only be healed by an act of true love. At this point any prior Disney movie would have probably had Prince Hans kissing Anna back to life, capturing Elsa, saving a kitten from a tree, rescuing an infant from a flaming house of fire, heralding world peace and stopping Lord Satan from unleashing the apocalypse faster than you can say deus ex machina. Instead, Frozen takes another route, one that had never been traversed by Disney. As Prince Hans is approached to help Anna from turning into a chunk of ice, he turns her away exposing his true plans to have wanted to marry Anna only to seize the throne of Arendelle.

Unlike previous Disney villains, Hans is original in the sense that, while most Disney villains are pretty much evidently evil since their first appearance, usually symbolized exhibiting pasty skin or are garbed in dark shades of grey, black or purple, he appears trustworthy and shows none of his true nature throughout the bulk of the plot leaving the audience dumbstruck at his reveal. If for nothing else, Frozen most certainly snatches attention with this and it will remain a testament to the movie’s originality.

Nonetheless, there is more. Unlike the Disney movies of the past, often highlighting the main character’s relationship with her lead man, here the focal point of the story is the bond between the two sisters rather than one between a man and a woman. The movie preaches the importance of filial love: that you never give up on family. Ever.

Also, Frozen makes its mark with the climactic scene where Anna saves her sister Elsa from the blade of Hans, subsequently ending up saving her own self too as the sacrificing she was willing to make for her sister counted as an act of love that was required to undo the power turning her into ice. Elsa learns that the secret to controlling her abilities is love and the kingdom thrives happily ever after. So, in the end, rather than prince-charming saving the damsel-in-distress, the girls save themselves through love that binds their sisterhood.

Aside from the innovative plot, Frozen also does a great job with the scenic details in animation and its musical score with the song “Do You Wanna Build A Snowman?” pretty much becoming an internet meme overnight.

Overall, Frozen breaks stereotypes of the timeworn Disney fairy-tales and spins a fable anew with superb dextertity, ingenuity and a touch of icy magic. It’s definitely a must-watch for every Disney-fan and a great family movie for kids.

Oh, by the way, did I mention Elsa is not really a Disney princess? She is a queen. And Frozen nicks itself a solid A+!

— Ani Bunny

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