Yes. Six years later, I finally watched Frozen.
A newly crowned queen inadvertently plunges her kingdom into an eternal winter when she’s unable to control her secret powers. Her younger sister seeks her out in the hopes of restoring normalcy, bringing summer back to the region. While she’s at it, a reindeer and a mountaineer will tag along to help however they can, willingly and unwillingly.
Frozen starts off looking like a cookie-cutter Disney film to populate its extensive library of children’s classics. Princesses in need of saving. A mountaineer to accommodate the saving and a prince serving as a backup. A strong, sinewy man with a reindeer and a wealthy royal with resources to mount an active rescue campaign. These lads are primed for the spotlight. Fortunately, writers and directors Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck refrain from relying on the “prince with a kiss” storyline.
Theirs is a twist to the idea of true love, using Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen as its foundation. Idina Menzel’s Elsa and Kristen Bell’s Anna are royal orphans, sisters who grow up by themselves trapped in a palatial castle. Elsa, of course, is the female equivalent of Mr. Freeze (minus the bad intentions). Afraid of her powers and the harm she can inflict, she mostly hides in her room until it’s time for her coronation. During the party that follows, Anna, convinced she’s found love at first sight, informs Elsa that she plans to marry Prince Hans of the Southern Isles (Santino Fontana). Anna’s rashness angers Elsa, and her closeted powers make the most inconvenient entrance possible, plunging the entire kingdom into an eternal winter. Elsa flees, hoping that isolation and seclusion will save her people from any further harm.
Looking at the story as a whole, Frozen provides plenty of fresh takes for the children’s movie genre. Most importantly, there isn’t a caricatured version of the “Big Bad” in this film. While there are players within the story who have specific machinations underway, by and large, this is more about our leads’ internal battles and struggles — those between the head and the heart, and those between our better angels and the deviant ones. Elsa’s conflict is with herself, deciding if there’s a world in which she’ll be accepted or whether she ought to stay locked away in self-imposed exile. The manifestation of her powers hinge on her state of mind, and an inability to control her thoughts endangers herself and her people.
Meanwhile, Anna’s journey follows a slightly different route. The young princess has plenty of suitors eager to anoint her as a damsel-in-distress, rescuing her, her sister, and the kingdom from its current plight. She serves as the focal point for Frozen’s stance on true love, by being put into positions as the rescuer and the rescued. Is she the one doing the saving or the one who needs to be saved? And what about the characters in her orbit? Do they have her best intentions in mind or something entirely different?
By diving into these questions, Frozen presents one of the more unique explorations of love, at least in the context of a children’s animated film. With lively musical numbers, a vibrant cast of characters, and a refreshing story at its core, this movie should thaw even the coldest of hearts.