Frozen is Disney’s latest animated feature that is captivating audiences young and old alike. Very loosely based on The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Anderson, Frozen is about two young women from the royal family of Arendelle. The elder sister, Elsa (Idina Menzel), was born with a magical gift allowing her to freeze things with a touch, along with creating ice and snow at will. Unfortunately she cannot always control her power and ends up accidentally harming her younger sister, Anna (Kristen Bell) when they are playing in the ballroom of the palace as small children. Their parents take them to a family of trolls in the woods, and Anna is healed. The troll (Ciaran Hinds) warns the royal family that should Anna’s heart be frozen she will die; and tells Elsa that she needs to hide and control her powers through any means necessary, for her safety as well as others.
Fast forward 15 or so years and the now orphaned sisters have drifted apart, Elsa having been moved to her own room for Anna’s and her own safety. Anna has no memory of Elsa’s power and only remembers how close they used to be, leading to her confusion and sadness about Elsa shutting her out. The palace is opened for the first time since Anna was injured for Elsa’s coronation as she is of age to take the throne. The ceremony goes off without a hitch, and Anna and Elsa talk for the first time in years at the celebratory ball. Unfortunately Anna meets Prince Hans (Santino Fontana) from the Southern Isles and, having no people skills from being shut away all her life, believes she has fallen in love. He proposes marriage, but when the couple goes to ask Elsa’s permission she denies them. Anna lashes out at Elsa, and in the resulting fight her powers are revealed. Elsa runs from the city, and creates her own remote ice palace, believing that she is finally free as she does not realize that she has plunged Arendelle into a very unseasonal winter that is not going away.
Anna immediately sets out after her sister and enlists the assistance of Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) and his pet reindeer Sven in her efforts. Along the way, the two run into Olaf (Josh Gad), a snowman from Anna and Elsa’s childhood that Elsa has enchanted to be animate. Eventually they reach the ice palace, but Anna is unable to persuade Elsa to leave. Elsa attempts to get Anna to leave her alone, and accidentally hits Anna in the chest with her power. Kristoff comes running in, and the two are chased off by an ice monster that Elsa creates. Anna’s hair begins to turn white, adding to the streak that she got as a child. Kristoff recognizes the symptom having observed the royal family’s visit to the trolls unseen when he was little. After meeting with the trolls (who have adopted Kristoff as their own) they determine that only an act of true love can prevent Anna from freezing solid. And then the race is on to get Anna back to Hans in time.
They rush Anna back to Arendell and Hans, who has led a group to capture Elsa and brought her back. Anna explains the situation to Hans, but just as he is about to kiss her, he reveals that he was only planning to marry her because he is the 13th in line for his kingdom. He locks Anna in the room, planning to let her freeze and execute Elsa to leave his route to the throne clear. Olaf shows up and rescues her, helping her to realize that Kristoff is really the one who loves her in the process, and Elsa breaks out of prison. Kristoff realizes something has gone wrong when he sees the growing storm and begins to head back. Just as Anna spots Kristoff, she also sees Hans about to kill Elsa, and runs to save her sister. Anna freezes just as she gets between Hans and Elsa, saving her by shattering Hans’ sword. Of course, her sacrifice for her sister is an act of true love that is enough to thaw her. Elsa realizes that love allows her to control her power, and thaws the city. The film ends with Elsa opening the doors of the palace to the public for good, and Kristoff and Anna sharing a kiss.
Now, I don’t know if the merge with Pixar is positively affecting Disney or what, but this is one of the best children’s films I’ve seen strong women-wise. This movie blows the Bechdel Test out of the water in a spectacular fashion, and I love it. There are several points for this, the first and foremost being Elsa’s ascension to the throne. There is no to-do about her being a single female who is now going to rule the kingdom, and there’s no to-do about there being no to-do. Elsa is simply accepted as the rightful heir to the throne, with no bones about it. Not to mention both Elsa and Anna are both strong female characters. Now the other point that this film makes that sets it apart from other Disney films is it’s more practical view regarding relationships. Elsa’s main reason for not allowing Anna to marry Hans is that they’ve only just met. Kristoff also reacts with horror and disbelief when Anna tells him about her problem. The ending only emphasizes this with it’s interesting take on an act of true love.
Aside from the characters, the visuals in the movie are simply stunning. The detail that is put into the costumes and the building designs is amazing, and the consideration given to Northern European tradition is considerable. In addition to the costumes, the interaction with snow and ice is also mind-blowing, not to mention the details in the frost all over the place.
Then there is the music, which is significant as it got this movie nominated for an Oscar. That number in particular is “Let it Go” which is a great one. There’s also “Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?” which has to be one of the most heart-rending songs I’ve ever heard, given its context in the movie.
All in all this is a wonderful film to take kids to, and if you have a sibling this is a great movie for that too. The trailers really undersell the true depth of the film, which is understandable given that it’s designed for kids. But it is clear to see why this movie has been nominated for Best Animated Feature this Oscar season.
“Oh look at that. I’ve been impaled.”
— Guest Post by Wolff —