Last week, Disney released its 53rd animated feature, Frozen. It’s a modern take on Hans Christen Andersen’s The Snow Queen, and it features many classic Disney motifs — love songs, big-eyed princesses, and a happy ending. But directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee have some surprises up their sleeves, creating a story that’s equal parts modern and classic.
While many of these motifs have cropped up in recent Disney hits like Tangled and The Princess and the Frog, it’s a refreshing to see them all on display in Frozen. Read on to see how this fun new family feature tackles traditional Disney values.
1. Princesses Fly Solo
Disney Princesses of years past often rely on the help of their friends and family to get by — and Elsa and Anna, the Nordic royals from Frozen, do get their fair share of help from loveable lug Kristoff, his reindeer Sven, and magical snowman Olaf. Still, Elsa is never painted as a romantic lead.
There’s something exciting about Elsa’s solo foray into a winter wonderland. As she creates an ice castle out of pure magic and sets out to live in, she asserts herself a confident woman who knows who she is. By the end of the film, she chooses to return to her family and release her kingdom from eternal winter, but still retains her individuality. It’s an exciting message to send to young girls looking for a new princess role model.
2. Feminine Strength is Celebrated
Hollywood is known for sending negative signals to women — you’re beautiful or you’re smart. You’re feminine or you’re strong. While recent films have shown that women can be strong and beautiful if they choose to be, the Disney franchise has been a little late to jump on the bandwagon. In Frozen, both Elsa and Anna are smart, funny, and adventurous without being relegated to comic relief or sidekick roles. Their beauty isn’t just skin deep, and in the end, the citizens of Arendelle and audiences alike fall in love with their beauty as well as their brains.
4. Two Females Lead the Way
While one of Disney’s animators took heat earlier this fall for comments he made about the difficulty in creating two unique women, it seems the studio performed the task with aplomb. Elsa and Anna are as emotionally different as sisters can be — one stoic, the other energetic; one extroverted, the other afraid to interact with others. But each princess is compelling, and their differences establish a dynamic that engages the audience and drives the story. It’s so rare for a major motion picture to celebrate women and Frozen gives us two to root for.
5. True Love Gets a Makeover
When we meet Anna, she’s obsessed with finding her true love. So much so that she falls for the first prince she meets. But as the story evolves, and Anna sets out to rescue her sister, she begins to realize life isn’t all about ball gowns and fairytale romances. In the end, it’s not a sweet kiss from gruff but loveable Kristoff that saves Anna from certain death, but the genuine love of her sister, Elsa. Happily ever after is more than just wedded bliss — it’s a joyful celebration with family, friends, and a stronger sisterhood.
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