(plot spoilers throughout)
Over Christmas break I saw the movie Frozen twice, each time with a dear friend. Now I rarely see movies in theaters twice, unless they are really special (or a friend can talk me into it.) During the first viewing my attitude towards the movie quickly shifted from “there’s nothing good out, I guess an animated movie can’t be too bad” to “OMG this movie gets me.”
You see, I didn’t really know what the movie was about (other than snow) and I had noticed the majority of people in the theater were moms with children, so I didn’t expect too much. For roughly the first 20-30 minutes I thought the movie was pleasant, but nothing I’d ever want to see again.
Now most movies, especially children’s ones, teach a lesson or two. For example, Tangled teaches us the joy of getting out and seeing the world, Up teaches us to continue on living a vibrant life after loss, Shrek teaches us the value of inner beauty, and Toy Story teaches us friendship is one of the greatest things in life. These are great, universal lessons, but do seem to be targeted to children. Now bear with me, this has a point I’ll get to soon.
As I watched Frozen unfold, one of the princesses (Anna) sang about how excited she was for her sister’s coronation celebration. She was going meet a perfect man and fall in love! I felt my eyes roll to the back of my head. (Ever since Brave I’ve grown increasingly aware to the absurdity of Disney Princess Culture.) But I figured, hey, this is a Disney movie, I guess it wouldn’t be the same without a cliche girl-meets-prince scenario! And sure enough, Anna met a charming prince, they sang a sweet duet about their new-found love, ending in an engagement, and my eye rolling was getting out of control by this point and I think I was even producing audible sighs of annoyance.
Queen Elsa, secretly cursed with magic, gets upset and long story short, accidentally sends the kingdom into a deadly freeze and runs away to hide. Princess Anna leaves in search of Elsa, and a short while later runs into an outdoorsman (Kristoff) she recruits for help. Along the way she mentions everything from the ice magic affecting her kingdom to her new fiance. Kristoff is less shocked by the impossible magic than he is about the engagement. “You got engaged to someone you just met?!” Later he comments in an unrelated situation, “I don’t trust your judgment” and then I realized this movie gets it. This is the point in the movie where those valuable life lessons were finally coming to fruition.
Adventure and running for their lives ensues, and when things finally slow down they meet Kristoff’s family and the song Fixer Upper breaks out. This song alone is enough to make the movie fantastic. The morals this song packs into 2-3 minutes:
- Nobody is perfect.
- Just because somebody isn’t perfect doesn’t mean they can’t be a truly wonderful person.
- Seriously, quit overly-romanticizing the idea of some perfect man or woman. Every chick flick you’ve seen from Dirty Dancing to Twilight has royally screwed up your view of how these things work.
- Remember you can’t change people. Being in a relationship may inspire people to want to be better, but it’s not a guarantee, and it’s not something you can actively make happen. Don’t go into a relationship having specific traits picked out you’re planning to force out of your significant other.
- “People make bad choices if they’re mad or scared or stressed.” AMEN.
Near the climax of the movie, Olaf, my favorite skull-less snowman, mentions “Love is putting someone else’s needs before yours.” Wow, this movie just told me one of the better definitions of love I’ve ever heard. I was about ready to stand up and applaud by this point.
In the end, much to the audience’s surprise, “true love” turns out to be the love between two sisters, not necessarily a romantic, hearts, roses & kisses, kind of love. YES. Romantic love is amazing, but have older Disney movies made us think we cannot find happiness without it? We often put too much emphasis on romantic love, and not enough on the love between friends and family members. These relationships are just as critical to life as the former, and it’s great to see movies like Frozen and Brave teaching this to girls, both young and old.