Frozen – I Will Never ‘Let It Go’

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Hold up there partner. The title could have a loving spin on it, but it’s actually more of a ‘love to hate’ sort of deal. Let me explain. Also, because I don’t do these things without giving a reference to the source material, here is Frozen’s IMDB.

What is Frozen? To briefly summarize the movie – there are two princesses. One has magical powers, the other does not (leading me to believe that one is adopted). Said magical powers must be hidden from the outside world for some reason or another so Elsa (magical power sister) is taught to always hold in her magic. Parents die because Disney movie, years pass until Elsa, the elder sister may be crowned Queen. Which leads one to question who was running the country for those ten odd years, but it doesn’t stop there folks. Coronation day comes, firebrand younger sister finds a guy she likes and asks her Queensister to marry him. Queensister says no, younger firebrand throws a fit, and Queensister accidentally reveals magic. She then does what any responsible monarch does and abdicates the throne. Young firebrand goes in search of elder sister, finds her, gets shot, and leaves. The country sends armed men to find the ‘Queen’ and capture her. Queen gets captured, an attempt on her life is thwarted by younger sister, everyone lives happily ever after. The end.

So before I get onto why I don’t like Frozen, maybe I should briefly mention why I do like Frozen. It has good music. Alright, moving right along…

So why don’t I like Frozen? Understand that when I watch a movie, what I’m looking for is generally good design. Characters and motivations have to make sense. The plot has to make sense. Disney movies usually have life lessons one could take away from it. Frozen, from a storytelling point of view does not make sense. Let’s examine the country of Arendelle, the fictional home of Elsa and Anna.

Where do the people of Arendelle like to eat? At the Olaf Garden.

We’re looking at a country that went without a ruler for some five to ten years. How has the country not devolved into chaos in that timeframe? Maybe the people are inherently good. Alright, let’s roll with that for now. But that shouldn’t stop the people of Arendelle from being conquered by external threats. In the final panning we see that Arendelle is an island nation with what appears to be only two land approaches. This makes Arendelle extremely vulnerable to sieges. By all rights, Arendelle should be under the control of external government. But alright, let’s say that doesn’t happen, Arendelle exists until coronation. At coronation, Arendelle literally throws the gates open to be conquered by literally anyone.

In the flood of people entering, we meet Hans. Hans is the youngest of children from some faraway country but he still wants power. So what’s his plan? Woo one of the princesses! Obviously. And it’s not hard for him to do in a country that’s full of good natured people that don’t try to seize power when the head of state recently died and their children are being cooped up in the castle for… safety? He settles on Anna. When Elsa runs away, Anna decides that she must bring Elsa back, and she says that she’s leaving Hans in charge. Ignoring the fact that the Queen should theoretically still have her rule, and not Anna, the people just accept this! Hans becomes the person in charge! And this is where his plan seems to get funky.

So Hans is now ruler, mission accomplished. The people trust him enough, they’re following his instructions. So what does he do? He sends armed men to find Elsa. Maybe they’re armed because wolves in the forest which, alright, I can buy that. Why does he send armed men? Well… it would make sense to endear him to the people to go look for Elsa. And if Elsa is left alive, she could come back and take Arendelle by rights and by force. So good job Hans, sending men to find Elsa, actually was the correct choice of action. Yet when they meet Elsa alone in her castle, they capture her and bring her home… for Hans to kill… later? Why did they not simply kill Elsa in her castle and be done with the matter? Anna isn’t there to be a witness. We know that they have no qualms about killing Elsa because the first quarrel gets fired straight at Elsa’s chest. We know it’s not about Elsa being required to undo the frost magic affecting the kingdom of Arendelle because Hans was about to kill her in the middle of a lake. We know that it wasn’t a planned ‘see Hans as the hero for unfreezing everything by killing Elsa’ thing because Hans does it in the middle of a blizzard in which people can hardly see anything. If the plan was to make it look like an accident, they could’ve killed her and said an icicle fell on her or something to kill her. In short – Hans made mistakes and his plan made no sense. If anything he should’ve killed Elsa in her castle, brought back the body with icicle wounds or wolf attack wounds and said her death was an accident. While one team brings back the body, another team should go find Anna and bring her back. Marry Anna, and then have her die from the wound Elsa gave her, or just die by ‘accident’. Hans gets the throne all to himself for whatever that’s worth.

Now let’s talk about the princesses. Elsa is a blonde with ice powers. Anna is a redhead without ice powers… or powers of any sort really. Wait a minute… blonde?

Okay… So here’s Elsa…

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And here are her parents…

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You’re telling me a redhead and a brunette produced a blonde child? And not like regular blonde but like… platinum blonde? Those are some pretty slim odds. All of a sudden I’m skeptical of Elsa and Anna being sisters… Eye colour works out, looks to be parents with blue eyes and green eyes. Both Elsa and Anna have blue eyes, so they have a 50% chance each… so a one in four chance of producing the children with those eye colours? That’s fair. But the hair colour thing… that throws a wrench into things.

Also, can we ask why Elsa has magical ice powers? At the beginning of the movie, we are told she was born with the powers, but neither parent is magical and Anna isn’t magical either. But fine, I guess we can just say that she’s a… ehhh… is there a less offensive term than ‘mudblood’ for magical people with non-magical parents?

But fine, let’s accept Elsa has magical powers. Despite the fact that the hair colour and magic combination alone means she hit the jackpot of astronomical odds but fine. She did it. I won’t go into this topic since it has been done to death but why is her set of powers so lucrative? She can make snow – okay. She can make clothes – uhhh? She can make LIFE – okay? She can curse people to slowly turn to ice building up to all at once – hmmmm…maybe.

Why is she being forced to hide her powers? Because she can’t control them? I feel like that’s a bigger to have her practice them. She’ll get better at using her powers and she won’t accidentally brain her sister anymore. And she wouldn’t accidentally freeze the country and put the ice cutting businesses out of work. Plus since she’s clearly capable of bringing snow to life, perhaps they didn’t want to put their army (if they even HAVE one) out of work? I mean, there’s a lot of good Elsa can do with her ice magic. Worse comes to worst, she could take up creating never melting ice-sculptures. Or even something completely unrelated to her magic, she’s a free woman to live as she pleases! Simply put, I’m suggesting that there’s absolutely no reason Elsa had to be locked up in her room for fear of hurting others with ice magic. There may be a reason that she had to hide her ice magic? But by the end of the movie we see that this is not true.

There’s really not much to say about Anna. Her role in the movie doesn’t seem to be significant. “But she found Elsa and saved her life at the end!” Well… yeah… I guess. But think about it – when it comes to character, how does Anna make sense? What is her character? When you think of Anna, what are her defining features? Her red hair? Her childlike innocence? My problem with Anna is that she really doesn’t exist outside the realm of plot device. Think about it. Anna gets hit with the ice blast prompting Elsa to become afraid of her own powers. Anna’s tantrum about marrying Hans is what reveals Elsa’s magic to the kingdom. Anna confronts Elsa to tell her about what’s going on and also gets shot to guilt trip Elsa into surrendering when Hans’ men arrive. Anna, of course, stops Hans’ strike on Elsa, saving her life. At best, Anna represents the Disney stories of the past. The knight willing to brave any storm for their princess. The adventurer that trusts anyone they happen to pass. The girl who believes in love at first sight. At worst, she’s just a tool to drive the story, and perhaps merchandising.

We also have a severely missed opportunity in Olaf. Olaf is great because he’s the link between the Elsa of today and the Elsa of yesterday! Olaf is Elsa’s desire to have what she and her sister had before. But the character itself, what could be a tragic reminder of the past turned into Sid from Ice Age. Is it the same actor? … [Google search research] … Not the same actor but the characters are a little toooo similar. I would’ve liked for Olaf to be more alive with character. But let’s be real here. His purpose is to be as silly and childlike as possible to sell toys of him. Despicable. Also, I refuse to accept that Olaf has no concept of basic phase changes.

What about Marshmallow? Do we ever discover what became of him? #SaveMarshmallow

You know, I have a funny feeling that the music was written first and the story hackneyed to give it an excuse to work. Except they didn’t do it quite well. ‘Let It Go’ may be fine… may be. The song is about empowerment which may be more useful leading into the final act. But it’s placed before the climax or at the very least at the climax. On top of that, the context of it really seems awkward. Elsa being the only one with ice magic could somehow be interpreted as the villain after that song. The Reindeer song and the Summer song are what I call merchandise songs. They exist purely to draw attention to specific characters and draw out the runtime of the movie. They add little to no value. ‘Will You Help Me Hide a Body’ I mean ‘Do You Want to Build a Snowman’ is to emphasize how the sisters grow apart. Why are there sisters? Because Anna is a plot device, I dunno. I feel like ‘Fixer Upper’ would’ve made more sense with Elsa. She’s the one that’s damaged from her childhood trauma and her history of repressed emotions. Yet Anna is the one who needs to be ‘fixed’ because Elsa shot her. Anna seemed perfectly healthy. I mean, as far as her character goes, she’s just a dumb child. Elsa is the one that needed to be fixed.

What lessons are we supposed to learn from this movie? It can’t be that you don’t marry the first thing that looks your way because we have Beauty and the Beast (Belle rejects Gaston) and Brave (Merida rejects… everyone). If we look outside Disney films, there are even more numerous examples. It can’t be that loving one’s family is a thing because Disney did it with… well, Beauty and the Beast where Belle agrees to take her father’s place. Mulan is a personal favorite of mine and yet another example (same type of example, actually). Let’s not forget The Little Mermaid in which Triton takes the place of Ariel in her contract with Ursula either. All of these movies much better movies on their story first narrative. Although to be fair, Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast had the story work done for Disney. I suppose Mulan did too but I’m willing to give Disney more credit for the story in its execution. I guess I’m having a hard time giving Frozen a point in which some other movie not only has done it, but done it better.

Anyway, I’m running out of steam for this post so I’ll end it here. Again, Frozen – perfectly fine movie in terms of entertainment value. But as a movie, as a storytelling device, it falls flat on its face. Again, love the music. It’s just inexcusable to call it a movie. May as well call it a soundtrack with light animation to entertain you. 2 out of 5 stars.

Artemis Hunt

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Frozen – I Will Never ‘Let It Go’

One thought on “Frozen – I Will Never ‘Let It Go’

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