Before I watched Frozen I wondered what makes it such a big deal. The movie was talked up by friends who are feminists and associates that who aren’t very feminist at all.
Finally a movie that resonates with so many different people! It must be worth watching, right? I decided to take a look for myself.
During my first viewing, I hoped to understand the significance of the very Aryan main character, Elsa. But, after watching the movie, I still didn’t understand why she’s the focus of the promos when she isn’t even the focus of the movie, but instead follows her sister Anna.
It actually made me angry that this character was featured more in promos than Anna, who is brunette and not as princess-like as Elsa.
Interestingly, Elsa’s conventional blonde hair and blue eyes actually sets her apart from the people in her kingdom. This begs the question, why couldn’t the filmmakers represent her differences in a way that is not something I already see everyday? What if she had darker skin or a thicker body? What if she didn’t look like every Disney princess out there and that was what made her different?
After watching the movie I thought it was cute, but there were only two parts that really stuck with me: the scene in which Anna sings “Do You Wanna Build A Snowman” and the scene in which Elsa sings “Let it Go.”
“Do You Wanna Build a Snowman” shows the isolation that Elsa is required to have from her sister after she has hurt Anna. It shows a female relationship that is flawed in a heartbreaking way as it shows the two inches away from each other but separated by walls both physical and metaphorical. The scene’s emotion is so strong in a subtle way that shows the relationship the sisters have with each other.
“Let it Go” was a scene I had seen several times before. The song is beautiful and strong and empowering. In this scene Elsa becomes liberated. Her secret sorcery is out and known, and, therefore, she is free. This song encourages people to be open about who they are, even if they’re told it’s not right or accepted. This scene is something I wish I could have seen when I was younger. Even as a twenty-one-year-old feminist I still empowered just from singing along with the song. If the movie ended at this scene, I probably would have been as crazy about Frozen as most of my friends. I wasn’t convinced that this song was the most empowering moment of the film, but I also could not read anymore into it on my own. I took to the internet to see if I was missing some larger message.
Much to my surprise the movie has been seen as having a strong pro-gay sentiment in many scenes. Some critics talk about the ways in which Elsa’s ice sorcery is a metaphor for sexual orientation; they also talk about the many ways in which this movie promotes female strength and independence and suggests that princesses can be seen as leaders rather than just as arm candy for princes.
In many ways this movie is progressive and asks us to take a second look at it, the movie’s purpose extends beyond sisterly relationships and after a second glance that becomes a little more apparent.
And that makes me think, maybe this movie isn’t so bad after all.
But not quite.
Women of color are non-existent in this film. The main female characters are the same women who we’ve seen in princess movies for decades. It is great that Disney has made a princess that actually intends to rule, but there isn’t the slightest allusion to princesses in other parts of the world that might provide a bit of diversity.
My next problem with the movie is that there are so many men. The movie is about sisters, but unnecessary male character still get about the same amount of time on screen as Elsa and Anna. Anna needs men to help her get to her sister. Elsa is the only one who doesn’t need a man; instead she makes a monster to protect her from the “bad guys.” The movie is still reinforcing gender roles as it has in many other Disney movies.
Don’t get me wrong—I enjoyed the movie for the most part, but there was always something missing, something that didn’t hook me the way I was hooked with Brave or even Tangled.
This movie may have been the most progressive movie to come from Disney, but I would say it’s far from the best movie I’ve ever seen. I would say that you should go see it for yourself and decide if it really is the most influential Disney princess movie you’ve ever seen.