Monday, May 12, 2014

Frozen: What it Did Right

It is no surprise to anyone who knows me that I love Frozen.  In fact, my coworkers all wanted to know exactly when I'd seen it because they all guessed that it was something I'd be excited (and hence, amusing) about.  On the other hand, I've heard a good deal of people talking about how disappointed they were in the film.  I can see where they're coming from, but the fact remains that it's probably the most popular Disney movie since The Lion King.  Why, you may ask, is it so popular if so many people thought it wasn't really as good as it could have been?
My explanation is this: The creators of Frozen gave every audience member someone they could relate to.
Think about it: the characters are presented with a problem, namely that Elsa has locked herself away (later it evolves to the kingdom being frozen, but for now let's focus on Elsa's introvertive behavior).  We are then presented with several reactions to her solitude:
We have Anna, who doesn't have a complete understanding of why her sister refuses to see her and thus assumes it is her fault.

Anna's is the reaction of a friend or close sibling who watches a friend struggle, say with depression, and just can't understand what exactly is going on.  And because pushing and prodding often leads to someone lashing out, or a lack of trust, these people can often be left not knowing just what it is they've done wrong, when in fact, none of it is actually their fault.

We have Elsa herself, who believes she is a danger to everyone around her and therefore locks herself away in order to protect people from herself.

Elsa has been told she needs to keep her powers - which are tellingly influenced by her emotions - hidden, because if she doesn't, everyone will hate her.  She believes if she can just learn to bury her fears and her passions behind an (ironically) icy exterior, she will finally be worthy of love and safe to be around.  Part of her is hiding from Anna to protect her, but another part of her honestly believes she's not good enough for Anna, and that the kingdom would be better off if she weren't part of the plan.

Then of course we have the irritating, want-to-punch off-a-boat people who manipulate other peoples' emotions for their own benefit. 

Let's admit it, we can all relate to Hans in some way sometimes (btw, isn't this picture great?!).

We are then introduced to calm, collected Kristoff, who is able to see past the conflicting emotions and look at the problems logically.

Kristoff is the one who can see the entire problem: yes, Anna was in the wrong to accept Hans so quickly, but Elsa was also in the wrong.  He doesn't quite understand why these two are fighting, but he can understand that this needs to be fixed, and he's willing to help.

And last, but not least, we have the slightly clueless but endlessly wise Olaf.

Olaf is the one who may not understand the complexities of human pain, but often surprises us by understanding on a profound level the beauty of human love.  He looks as if he's naive on the outside, but underneath the bright smile, he really does understand the seriousness of the situation.  The thing that sets him apart is the hope and optimism he brings to the table, the unshaken faith that things are going to turn out right in the end.  He's the shoulder you want to lean on, because he's the one who is never going to give up on you.

One problem: five different perspectives.  Five different people that everyone in the audience would be able to relate to in some way.  I think this is what makes Frozen so popular.  It's not a story about two sisters and their problems.  It's a story about you.

Fare thee well, friend!

No comments:

Post a Comment