As always, there are spoilers below.
This is a story about love, family and the power of fear. I haven’t included a trailer in this review because the trailer isn’t very good. I didn’t actually know anything about the movie before I’d watched it, only that it was sorta based on a fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen and there was like, a ton of snow. As someone who doesn’t particularly love snow, I was still really impressed with the visuals of this movie. It made me want to check into the Ice Hotel.
We’re introduced to two royal sisters Elsa and Anna. Gah. Disney can never make stories about regular people, it has to always be princesses. I digress, Elsa has cryokinetic (ice) powers and Anna knows she can get her big sister to come out and play if using her powers are involved. In one of their games, Anna is hurt becomes frozen and gets a white streak in her hair. In order to save her, memories of Elsa’s powers are taken from her mind and she’s left behind with all the fun memories they had. Elsa is warned to be more careful and told to not let fear take hold of her. So obviously, she becomes terrified, isolates herself in her room all the while her powers are getting stronger.
In one of the most heartbreaking montages, Anna who remembers all the fun they had tries in vain to get her sister to come out of her room by repeatedly asking the question, “Do you want to build a snowman?”. This is same question she asked the night she almost died. But Elsa is afraid so she refuses to see her sister. Her parents are afraid so they allow her to hide away, dismissing all but the essential staff and shutting the palace gates. The only person who isn’t afraid is Anna and even when she finds out about her sister’s powers she still accepts and loves her.
“Conceal it. Don’t feel it. Don’t let it show.” Elsa lives by those words, she hides her true self in order to gain acceptance and in the end she ends up hating herself and hurting those around her. Even when she feels like she’s found peace with herself in the song, “Let it go“, she hasn’t.
She’s still hiding, just manifested in a different way. I think it’s really powerful that the only thing that can save her from herself is Anna’s love. That agape love gives Elsa the ability to really free herself from the hatred and fear and loneliness that she had let surround her for the majority of her life. For a princess story it was such a bait and switch! It was all geared up to be a love story, or a love triangle, but the true love ended up being a familial love rather than a romantic one. Disney are moving in the right direction with Brave and Frozen in their story telling for young women. Having true love doesn’t mean waiting around for a prince to show up. Frozen makes a good point about that actually! In reality being swept off your feet and romanced by a handsome prince isn’t really all that it’s cracked up to be. You need time to get to know someone, to love their flaws as well as all the mushy gooey stuff that comes with love. Even though this is a great step in the right direction I feel like Disney were a little unsure about it because I had no idea it was in the cinema. I’ve seen zero promotional materials, and the trailers really don’t make any sense in relation to the story. I hope that its success makes them less afraid to make more movies like this.
The more I think about it, the more I enjoy this movie. Though I have to admit, even for someone who likes musicals, it sure felt like there were a lot of musical numbers!