We Need to Stop Praising "Frozen"

The main cast of characters, complete with a reindeer version of Maximus from "Tangled", a literal bigheaded snowman cashing in on goofy humor, two female look-a-likes, and two male look-a-likes. Seriously, compare those faces...
The main cast of characters, complete with a reindeer version of Maximus from "Tangled", a literal bigheaded snowman cashing in on goofy humor, two female look-a-likes, and two male look-a-likes. Seriously, compare those faces... | Source

From a Storyteller's Standpoint

"Frozen" is an enjoyable movie. There is no denying that. It's pretty to look at, there are a lot of humorous moments, and its characters are likeable. Anna is spunky, funny, and outspoken. Olaf is goofy, humorous, cutesy, and lovable. Elsa can sing. You may have other reasons for liking these characters and the film's other characters, but I'm stopping there because I'm not here to heap praises on "Frozen", as I think the title of this article has made clear.

In truth, I hated "Frozen". I enjoyed watching most of it, and I can certainly see why a great many people like it. But I don't think it deserves the level of praise it is receiving.

There are many different reasons why people are criticizing "Frozen", ranging from Disney's unoriginal character designs to the false feminism that the movie has managed to feed. Both of those are very important issues, and as much as I enjoy exploring them and talking about them, I will save that for conversations with my friends. If you are interested in reading something like that, I put some links over there on the right, and you can browse them at your own leisure. For now, though, I want to talk about "Frozen" from a storyteller's standpoint.

The Trouble With the Beginning

I'm not in as much of an outrage over deviation from Hans Christian Anderson's source material as others are when it comes to the plot of the story. That's really not my issue. What I do have problems with, however, are the sudden breaks in the story and all the elements that point in one direction, only to be uprooted and thrown the other way. I'm not talking about plot twists. I'm talking about lapses in story.

Let's start from the beginning. (Spoilers ahoy!)

We begin with the ice harvesters. I don't really know what else to call them since they never come up again, and even when Kristoff explicitly states that selling ice is his occupation, that has no relevance to the plot. But at the beginning of the movie, we start with these big, burly men chopping up a frozen river. Young Kristoff is there, along with baby Sven the reindeer, but at no point are we given any reason to believe that Kristoff is an orphan. It's very, very easy to assume that one of the ice harvesters is his father, and yet, a troll decides to "keep" Kristoff and Sven. Which kind of makes them sound more like pets than anything else. But that's not even a chronological set of plot points. (Are you noticing how even the summary of the first two minutes of this movie doesn't flow all that well?)

Before the troll takes Kristoff and Sven, we get to watch Anna and Elsa interact as very young children for all of five minutes before Anna is hit in the head with a blast of Elsa's ice powers. It's very clearly an accident, and is rightly treated as such by the girls' parents and even the troll king, but the solution to this problem is to take Anna's memories of the incident away... as well as all her memories of Elsa's ice powers. Elsa is then isolated from her sister as a further form of precaution, and is discouraged from playing with the one person we've ever seen her be close to.

Now, this actually has a great deal of potential as far as plots go. It feels like a bit of a cop out, but we do get a set up for a sisterly relationship that is less-than-perfect and will need to grow and develop as the two characters mature. Considering that the love between two sisters is what Frozen's pivotal plot climax hinges on, this would have been a great way to start the movie and then move into a story that focused on the sister-sister relationship. Instead, the film tries (and fails) to set up this very clearly non-existent relationship as well as the basis for both female characters through montage. We definitely get that Anna is goofy and spirited, and that Elsa is afraid of herself and of the possibility of hurting others, but the problem here is that the movie never goes beyond that.

To say a little about montages, they are a great device as far as compressing time lapses, some (minor) information, and distances traveled goes. A movie (Disney, no less) that I think does this very well is "Atlantis: The Lost Empire". We see how far those travelers are going, and we see that Milo has his little screw ups and doesn't jive all that well with the other characters. But when Milo actually bonds with them, the film slows down again and lets us see that. It shows him gaining acceptance among the others, and actually developing relationships with them.

"Frozen" does the exact opposite. It does a really good job of showing the passage of time between the ice-shooting incident and Elsa's coronation, but then all it really does is show that Elsa never interacts with Anna ever again. Which actually completely undermines the "magical sister bond" the film so eagerly buys into, namely that sisters will love each other unconditionally simply because they are sisters. It is entirely possible to have a special relationship with your sibling that does not, in any way, have to be antagonistic, but that requires you to actually grow up with them and learn what it means to be a sibling in addition to being yourself, which "Frozen" pointedly denies its two female characters. As such, Anna's unbending love for Elsa does not make any sense. I liked that Anna tried to reach out to Elsa following the deaths of their parents, but from this moment on, the movie is a lot of Anna making assumptions about Elsa that are just not true, mainly that her sister would never hurt her. There's a minor moment of antagonism when Elsa tells Anna that she cannot marry Hans, but like so many other potential conflicts in this film, it is solved by Elsa running away.

Another thing that the montage denies us is knowledge of just how isolated Anna and Elsa really are. Conceivably, Elsa is severed from everyone except her parents. Anna, however, is free to roam the castle. There is, at the very least, a skeletal staff running around. Even if Anna was neglected by her parents and therefore completely starved for love and thus willing to fling it every which way (as a good friend of mine put forth in a theory of her own), there should have been other people for her to interact and bond with. There's actually a confirmation of this when a male voice calls to Anna on Coronation Day, telling her it's time to wake up. So there are definitely people in this castle. And they interact with Anna. So why is she so stuck on Elsa?

This is why I called the sister-sister relationship of the film "non-existent". There is never a moment of bonding between them during the montage, and unfortunately in a case like this, it's very much a case of "pics or it didn't happen". There's only so much you can infer from things that are not onscreen. And what "Frozen" does show onscreen is is that Elsa never opens her door and lets Anna in. "Frozen" shows us that Elsa sits huddled alone in her room, ignoring the world as best she can.

In spite of this (and what I think is a pretty solid ground for severe psychological damage, considering Elsa is allowed to spend 21 years terrified of herself), the first time we actually get to see the sisters interact following the montage has Elsa acting weirdly composed and friendly. There's awkwardness on Anna's part, but it feels more like an extension of her "cutesy" character than acknowledgement of the fact there is no actual bond between these two women. I was glad that the awkwardness was there, certainly, but it disappears almost immediately because of chocolate. The smell of it, specifically. That could have at least been a (stereotypical) thing for them to bond over, but instead, it's mentioned purely in passing and is just a way for the film to nod and say, "Yep, these two are sisters. See how much they have in common?"

Sister-sister relationships do not work that way. (Having spent the past nineteen years of my life as an older sister, I do get some authority on that.) Common ground is a great way to start bonding with someone, but you have to actually spend time and energy building that bond. It does not pop up automatically fully-formed. The very beginning of the film definitely lays the groundwork for that bond by showing young Anna and Elsa playing together and having a great time, but "Frozen" then rips that ground to shreds, and yet somehow still believes that there is something to stand on. The film believes that there exists enough of a bond between the sisters to motivate Anna's decision to charge after Elsa into the wilderness. That right there is something that could be explained away by Anna realizing that Elsa does, in fact, have powers, which really does explain a lot about their past. But of course, Anna is still missing the fundamental knowledge that Elsa has actually hurt her in the past, and the beginning of her epic quest is just as motivated by ignorance as it is by the fact that she and Elsa are sisters. Perhaps even more so. If Anna had known that Elsa had hurt her, would she have been able to look past that and gone after Elsa? That's speculation for a very different movie, but does tie into a point that I will make later. For now, though, let's move on.

Young Anna and Elsa actually bonding prior to the incident.
Young Anna and Elsa actually bonding prior to the incident. | Source

Breaks in the Narrative

One of the most awkwardly placed scenes in the movie is the "Let It Go" sequence.

It kills me a little inside every time I say that, but that does not make it any less true. I absolutely love the song. I think that Idina Menzel absolutely crushes with her performance. And I greatly enjoy the animation sequence that accompanies the number. But from a narrative standpoint, this scene does not make any sense whatsoever.

Let's start with the placement of it. Ignoring the fact that this feels so much like a climax song that does not belong in the first half-hour of the film (and there is some evidence (scroll to Trivia section, 16th main bullet point) for that, given that this was intended to be a villain song, but was deemed too joyous and motivational for a villain song, thus leading to some rewriting of the surrounding story rather than the song itself), it's position within the movie disrupts the flow of the narrative. Much more so than the ice harvesters do at the very beginning, which is actually meant to be more of a foreshadowing song than anything else, although it's desire to make Kristoff relevant from minute-one feels a bit forced.

Anyway.

Before "Let It Go" begins, we see Elsa reveal to the world that she has powers. She stumbles out of the castle into the square, freaks out (justifiably so), and runs away (also justifiably so). But we switch from focusing on her from an omniscient perspective to focusing on her from Anna's perspective. We watch Anna watch Elsa run away. And then we watch Anna deal with some very minor, practically non-existent chaos in the village before handing control over to Hans. (At this point, I must ask, where is the person who was running the kingdom between the death of the king and queen and Elsa's coronation?) So Hans is left in control, and we watch Anna jump into her epic quest to find her sister. And then, suddenly, we're back with Elsa. She sings her song, and then we jump back to Anna and stay with Anna until she meets up with Elsa again.

"Let It Go" is very much just plopped into the movie without any real regard for how it fits, and not only narratively speaking. In terms of character, it is a complete lapse in Elsa's character. It's a song all about accepting yourself for who you are, embracing your identity, and coming to terms with your own flaws. That's awesome. But Elsa has spent her whole life living in fear of herself and her power. In "Let It Go", she turns on a dime and suddenly comes to grips with everything about herself, including her ability to control her powers. Which especially does not make sense because we know that she has set off an eternal winter back in town. The film wants us to rationalize this by saying that Elsa just doesn't have complete control over her powers at this point, even though she thinks she does, and especially even though the wintry conditions only exist in Elsa's immediate vicinity when she is under extreme emotional duress at all other points in the film. And yet, the movie also wants us to rationalize that Elsa suddenly has such a firm grip on her emotions that she is able to engineer a stunning ice castle, create a living snowman, morph her gown, and be totally okay with completely isolating herself... again. And all this without her ever practicing with her powers because she was supposed to "conceal it, [not] feel it".

I'm not buying it.

Seriously, Elsa, HOW?? (Still originally from the film, image taken from Planet Minecraft website.)
Seriously, Elsa, HOW?? (Still originally from the film, image taken from Planet Minecraft website.) | Source

Now, "Let It Go" feels even more like a lapse in character when we finally do get back to Elsa again. Anna appears at her front door, ready to confront her and finally deal with their issues. Which would have been fantastic. But rather than embracing who she is and being willing to work through or at least confront those issues, Elsa relapses into her timid self and runs away from Anna. Again. Anna actually chases Elsa through the ice palace before being shot in the heart with frost, which still isn't enough to drive Anna away or even motivate Kristoff to get her out of there. Instead, Elsa has to create a snow golem and actually endanger everyone once again by sending said snow monster to attack them.

Everything about that interaction is so jarring and unrealistic, and not in a way that the fantasy genre can even get away with. Elsa claims that she's happy but is very obviously not, despite the entire "Let It Go" sequence. Anna goes charging headfirst at Elsa despite now knowing that her sister is, actually, capable of hurting her (although she still lacks her memories... more on that later). Kristoff admires the ice castle, Olaf barges through the front door, Elsa makes a snow beast, everyone runs away. Anna begins to experience physical pain as her frozen heart begins to actually take its toll, but here is where another really glaring lapse in the film's narrative comes into play. This is during the second (and thankfully, only other) troll sequence.

We meet the trolls again, and we all know that they won't be able to help Anna. They said at the very beginning of the movie that they could not fix a frozen heart. It's beyond them. And yet... here they are, ready to give us that information all over again. But for some reason, before we can even get to that, we have to sit through a song.

I was incredibly uncomfortable during "Fixer Upper" for reasons that I could not quite pin down, but Dani Coleman's article does a really good job of explaining what I failed to immediately following my own viewing of the movie (article discusses consent and the roll of it in Disney films). But ignoring the social issues that the song invites us to laugh at, it's another awkward moment of broken narration.

Seriously, what are you guys even doing the middle of this plot?
Seriously, what are you guys even doing the middle of this plot? | Source

For one thing, despite the fact that almost everyone in the movie has told Anna that she cannot marry a guy that she just met, the trolls are totally fine with pushing Anna and Kristoff together and, of all things, trying to marry them even though they have spent less than 24 hours together. I'm sure you can figure out why that's a bad move based on what appears to be the overarching theme of "Frozen", but also, everyone completely forgets about Anna's frozen heart for the duration of the song. That is kind of a pressing injury, considering she's dying. But it takes a back seat to "Fixer Upper", and Anna actually appears perfectly healthy during the sequence. How do you forget about something like that??

Not only that, but prior to this moment, there did not feel like there was any romantic development between Anna and Kristoff at all. Kristoff read more like a big-brother figure than he did a romantic interest up until this point. I mean, is it any small coincidence that he and Elsa, who is Anna's older sibling, both expressed concern at the idea of her marrying someone she's just met?

And actually, the moment when Kristoff admires Elsa's ice palace had me thinking that the movie was actually going to do something completely new and have Anna serve only as a means of introduction for Elsa and Kristoff, who were going to become a couple. That would have been a real first for Disney, romantically involving the non-main character with the (in this case, forced) love interest rather than the main heroine. And then maybe Anna would realize that she wanted to take her time with Hans and put off the engagement until she had gotten to know him a bit better, or something like that. I initially thought that this was older sibling bias coming in and coloring my interpretation of a scene, but then I learned that a few of my friends had these exact thoughts, and most of them are not older siblings. One of them is actually a younger sibling. So I'm not so sure that wasn't a piece of dialogue from an original draft that the writers tried to integrate into this version of the script. It could very well not be, but my friends and I all come from different backgrounds and have different opinions on romances in movies, and yet we all had the same thought regarding this moment.

That being said, I feel that there are a lot of things in "Frozen" that point towards a deeper plot and sense of character, but the movie ultimately rejects those ideas in favor of a much more explicit and simplistic resolution. I don't think it necessarily involved an Elsa-Kristoff romance, but there are things that make me wonder what the script looked like before "Let It Go" was written and Elsa's character was rehashed.

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"Frozen" Wanted to Go Deeper

I really, really think it did.

I'm convinced that somewhere in the Disney compound, there is a version of the "Frozen" script sitting in a trashcan that focuses almost entirely on the relationship between Anna and Elsa and that actually treats those two characters as equals rather than focusing almost completely on Anna with vague sprinkles of Elsa here and there. There's a script somewhere that did not make the final cut that explores Elsa's feelings of fear and anger more fully than just occasionally stating, "There's so much fear!" And somewhere, there's a script that let Anna remember that Elsa actually had hurt her.

Which, I fully believe, is what this guy was intended for.

Olaf the snowman. Meant for so much more, but reduced to comic relief and nothing more.
Olaf the snowman. Meant for so much more, but reduced to comic relief and nothing more. | Source

Olaf is basically the gun on the mantle. Kristoff is a red herring, but Olaf is the walking incarnate of Checkov's Gun. He just screams "memory trigger". His name and physical form are exactly the same as that of the snowman young Elsa creates while playing with Anna at the very beginning of the movie. He constantly repeats lines from their childhood like "I like warm hugs!" and "The sky's awake, and so am I!", but beyond just repeating these lines, he does not do anything. Except point out when moments are awkward, and what makes them awkward. Which, yes, is funny, but doesn't really trust the audience members to figure that out for themselves.

Throughout his time on screen, Olaf is just a series of missed opportunities, or opportunities that are blatantly ignored. He so easily could have triggered Anna's memories and made her remember that Elsa had hurt her in the past, which easily could have fit in with the movie's themes. Anna could have realized this about Elsa, been afraid of Elsa, and then worked past that fear in the name of love. This also would have helped alleviate the "magical sister bond" the movie is so fond of, because Anna could have realized to a much fuller extent that Elsa really was shutting her out for her own protection rather than out of anger or spite. But that never happens. Anna never remembers, and Olaf ultimately proves rather pointless.

Oh wait, I'm sorry, he explicitly tells Anna that Kristoff is in love with her, thus sparking the final climactic moment of the film.

This is another problem in and of itself.

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Anna and Elsa are NOT Strongly Written Characters

Anna throughout the movie is, quite frankly, kind of stupid. That's the argument Anna-haters are putting forth, at least, and there is some basis for it. She leaves control of the kingdom in an outsider's hands, she refuses to believe that Elsa will hurt her despite witnessing how dangerous Elsa's powers can be (eternal winter, spiky ice shafts, frozen rivers, the works) and not really knowing her sister as a person at all, and she constantly needs things pointed out to her. Such as the fact that Kristoff is in love with her. Or that you can't climb a mountain without mountain-climbing gear. And she decides to run off into the eternal winter without donning proper snow gear. And interestingly enough, Anna-lovers respond to this by saying, "Well, yeah, but that's part of her character arc!"

I've seen people call Anna brave, outspoken, and strong. Anna is only brave because she lacks some fundamental information that might otherwise give her serious inhibitions. Her outspokenness is an extension of her goofy characterization, lending itself more to awkward humor and a "look how delightfully clumsy I am" attitude that may actually be comparable with Bella Swan more than anyone else. And her strength really only comes from the fact that she is willing to face her problems head-on, which in another set of circumstances would actually be great, but the issue there is that all of her problems are external. She is morally in the right throughout the entire film, and she never grows as a character. Even her final moment of what is supposed to be a great character climax has been forced by the walking plot-device Hans, and she's been chasing after Elsa the entire movie, so it's really no surprise that she decides to throw herself in front of that sword. Show of hands, how many people thought that she would actually go make out with Kristoff rather than try to stop Hans? Not hoped that she did not, or were relieved when she did not, but actually, genuinely expected her to choose kissing Kristoff over saving Elsa? I'm not so sure this reads as the great moment of selflessness it's supposed to. It's selfless, certainly, but when has Anna actually been selfish?

Despite the vanity she exhibits at the beginning of the film, Anna's main desire as outlined by "For the First Time in Forever" is companionship. She's very lonely, and even if there is a castle staff for her to interact with, maybe she's actually just starved for company with peers of her own age, and hey, romantic attention would be great for her as well. Something very important to note, however, is that Anna's decision to jump into an engagement with Hans isn't as desperate-for-true-love-romance-motivated as the movie would love for us to think it is. Anna's desire for companionship is, first and foremost, what she wants, and the idea of romantic love comes in as a whimsical afterthought that envelops the rest of the song. Which actually reflects the outcome of the movie. A film that started off about two sisters becomes entrenched in a romance-driven side plot. "Frozen" then uses this as a means of subverting the "True Love's First Kiss" trope, which is not actually as firmly ingrained in Disney culture as this movie would have us believe. (I'll happily do a sound off on that for anyone who's interested.) But this misdirection is contingent on us believing that Anna does not actually know what true love is to begin with. Anna, however, has loved Elsa unconditionally throughout the movie, wants to be close to her sister, and help Elsa through her emotional issues. Regarding true romantic love? On Coronation Day, Anna is under a deadline. This is what everyone overlooks the most.

In "For the First Time in Forever", Anna sings about the possibility of finding love now that she finally has the chance to interact with people, and one of her final lines is "I know this all ends tomorrow so it has to be today!" She knows that the moment Coronation Day is over, her shot at a life that is not devoid of human interaction or the potential for romantic love is gone. She's gotta find love today so as to escape her loneliness. Cue Hans.

Now, rewatching "Love is an Open Door" on YouTube is a different experience the second time around because we know that Hans is gonna turn out to be a total jerk, but the problem is, he never reads as one at any point in the movie prior to his abrupt character shift. Anna's decision to jump into an engagement with Hans is, therefore, not purely motivated by the fact that he is conveniently there, but also by the fact that she clicks with him, and they get along incredibly well prior to the plot twist. Hans could certainly be presenting an illusion to Anna as a means of getting close to her, which is what we'll always carry with us after watching "Frozen" for the first time, but even after Anna leaves, Hans does not read as a power-hungry leech. He hands out blankets to the freezing citizens of Arrendale, and tries to make sure everyone is able to survive the winter weather. Unless this guy is shown kicking puppies in some scene that I'm not aware of, he's just... not a villain. Not until it is convenient for him to be one. And considering Elsa was meant to be the villain of this movie, Hans is very much a character of convenience. He was scripted in after Elsa's villainy was scripted out, and the result is a quick and frankly very noticeable patch job. But seeing as Disney has never really accepted the fact that "antagonist" and "villain" are not interchangeable terms, I guess we'll always need a clear-cut villain in the Princess subgenre. Disney has done redeemable villains (see: John Silver from "Treasure Planet" and Jumba from "Lilo & Stitch"), but we've never seen a redeemable female villain from them. Which is a shame, really, because Elsa would have made a fantastic redeemable villain.

Getting back to Anna, though, she is actually a pretty selfless character. Her motivations for marriage could indeed be interpreted as selfish if you look at it the way I have, but the movie ignores the escape motive in favor of focusing purely on the love motive. This hinders the selfish aspect of her character. Someone who is starved for love but who has demonstrated the willingness to be emotionally available to someone clearly understands that love is a give-and-take dynamic, not just all take. If anything, Anna is too selfless. She does not want to take power away from the rightful ruler of the kingdom, repeatedly risks her life for the sake of her sister, stops Kristoff from crushing Olaf's summery dream, is willing to emotionally be there for Elsa and work through her issues with her sister while said sister just wants to run away, etc. And yet, even during that ball scene when Anna "makes the evening all about herself" by demanding to know what she'd done to deserve Elsa's cold shoulder, she's right. She has no idea why Elsa won't talk to her, and she can't understand why her sister--who she was so close to at the beginning of their lives--has turned away from her. That's not being selfish so much as it's saying, "I want to work through these problems with you because I love you. Please don't shut me out!" And Anna explicitly says almost exactly this when she confronts Elsa in the ice castle.

But even after Elsa has hurt her again (mortally, this time), even after she was chased away from Elsa's ice castle by a snow golem, even after Hans aka Mr. Plot Twist abruptly reveals that Anna will not be receiving a kiss from him and will die, her concern feels like it is just as much for Elsa as it is for herself. She tells Hans, "You're not match for Elsa!" (thereby showing that she has confidence in her sister but also wanting to dissuade Hans from going after Elsa at all) and the idea of him "not getting away with it" applies to the situation as a whole, not just to locking Anna in a room to die. But even then, when Anna is on the couch alone, dying from a frozen heart, she does not slip into moments of introspection and consider or say anything about Elsa being the one who hurt her. Instead, she's actually very concerned for the suddenly-appearing Olaf and the fact that he will melt if he stays with her. Again, that's pretty selfless on both characters' parts, putting your friend's needs ahead of your own. But Olaf mostly serves as another distraction at this point rather than as a source for dialogue centered around Elsa's refusal to let Anna in. Olaf instead steers Anna into thinking about Kristoff, and she doesn't reflect on what brought her to this point, or that maybe she pushed Elsa too hard, or even that maybe Elsa was too emotionally fragile to be pushed at all. She's never afraid of or angry at her sister. There's no emotional obstacle to overcome. It just does not happen. So why is it that Anna needs to perform an act of selfless love in order to save herself when that's really all she's been doing throughout the movie?

I don't mind that Anna has flaws like vanity and incompetence. Those actually do lend themselves to her character, more so than cutesy clumsiness (which is an overused cop out for teenage girl characters). And I really do think that a lot of her stupidity isn't actually stupidity, but a lack of fundamental knowledge. I wasn't expecting her to know how to do every little thing under the sun, and do them without any struggle whatsoever, and even the whole handing power over to Hans thing can be chalked up to poor world-building. (Again, where was the person in charge prior to Elsa's coronation?)

However, I do mind that, in spite of all of this, Anna never grows emotionally. She's certainly a consistent character (much more so than Elsa, which definitely makes Anna the stronger character of the two, but that's a lesser of two evils kind of thing) but despite her flaws and virtues, she has no emotional arc. Her constant desire to be close to Elsa is something that we're supposed to admire and sympathize with, because "Awww... sisters!"

Anna suffers from what is actually a very dangerous notion going around the writing world, namely that a "strong female character" has to be externally strong (meaning she faces and overcomes external obstacles) and not in need of development because she's already nearly-perfect with little flaws that only serve to make her more likeable. The fundamental problem here is that this phrase replaces "strongly written" with "strong", and a lot of people are buying into that. A female character that is emotionally weak, naïve, and struggles internally can be an incredibly strongly written character, and such a character certainly has the opportunity to grow and evolve. "Strong female characters" that are strong in the misconception of the word deny this for themselves and others, especially when they dip into Sueism. A prime example of a well-developed female character that has room to grow and evolve is Sansa Stark from the A Song of Ice and Fire series. Not Anna from "Frozen". And this is not just because Sansa gets to grow and evolve over the course of a series of books while Anna only has one movie. Taken even from the first novel alone, that Sansa (who does not at all take up a majority of the narrative space) sees her dreamy view of the world shattered. She realizes how wrong she was about the world around her, and begins to open her eyes to how power struggles work. She's still naïve about a lot of things, is manipulated and makes mistakes that have serious consequences, but she is taught a very harsh lesson, and learns. And that's just in the one book.

Compare this to Anna, whose only goal is to be close to her sister. That never changes. That's not necessarily a bad thing, and is, in my opinion, a good moral for a Disney Princess Movie. But rather than sticking with this goal, the movie's focus is allowed to wander because the writers felt the need to distract us for some reason. There are things that come flying out of left field like Hans's betrayal and Kristoff's romantic feelings, but ultimately the film is always about Anna wanting to be close to Elsa, despite all the reasons she has to not want that at all. She never stops trying (except for a brief moment during the montage when she finally stops knocking on the door), is willing to plunge into the wilderness for someone she barely knows, and never, ever questions why she so badly wants to be close to Elsa. I believe that, had the movie actually focused on this relationship and not been afraid to allow its female characters to spend more than five minutes onscreen together at any given time, "Frozen" could have been an incredibly powerful movie that showed where different kinds of (emotional) strength actually come from as well as emphasizing that the bonds you build up with your sister (or brother, parents, friends, whatever extension we could get out of that) are very rewarding in and of themselves. But instead, "Frozen" attempts to do this through misdirection, and it ultimately fails. As for Anna, I think that she had incredible potential as a character, much like the potential Sansa Stark actually has, but there is something (or someone) stopping "Frozen" from actually delving into her.

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And if we wanted to look at Elsa, she's even more weakly developed as a character than Anna is. She's barely on screen, and when she is, she's acting in ways that don't even make sense. These are not moments of development. These are lapses in character. I've talked about them before so I won't restate them here, but one more thing to note about Elsa is that she, too, is never given the chance to confront her internal issues, only the external ones. The moment when she does not run and decides to face her antagonists is the moment when two henchmen are trying to kill her. They have nothing to do with her (lack of a) relationship with Anna. It's supposed to be an instance where the past (namely, angry villagers / devious trade partners) has caught up with her, but again, it's presented as a very external struggle, and the only moment where we get an instance of internal dilemma is when Hans calls out, "Don't be the monster they think you are!" Even this, however, is solved by a moment of convenience when the overhead chandelier comes crashing down, knocking Elsa unconscious. So even when Elsa is facing her problems head-on, she's stopped from actually resolving those problems.

Elsa is then brought back to the castle, locked in a dungeon, and then... escapes. I don't blame her for wanting to run at that point (although we know of the more sinister things going on at this point, and she does not), but rather than working with dramatic irony, "Frozen" lets Elsa run away again, and the only time she stops running is when she's told that she has killed Anna. This is one of the few things that I think the movie does well: shows that Elsa could not solve her problems by running away from them. And yet, everything is ultimately fixed for her and not by her (with the exception of the snow still physically being on the ground). In the end, it's Anna's actions that set everything right, and although Elsa mourns Anna's fleeting, temporary death (which, incidentally, she was already doing before Anna fully turned into a Popsicle), everything snaps back into place without Elsa needing to lift a finger. And then Elsa suddenly understands everything perfectly, gathers up all the snow, and makes a giant snowflake in the sky before giving everyone the ability to ice skate. But not before Anna punches Hans in the face. Because that's all the emotional resolution we need for those two, apparently.

Elsa is, quite frankly, too central to the narrative to work as a character. Personally, I wanted more of her. I wanted more development, more actions and reactions, more growth. But if we wanted to keep her as is? If she was more of a side character and less of a somewhat-central non-character, she may actually work. The movie wanted to focus on Anna anyway, so I'm not really sure why it showed Elsa as much as it did anyway. I was glad that Elsa was not a villain for the sake of being a villain (Hans, anyone?), but she is not really an antagonist, either. Her fear is motivated by love, but also ends up being the only thing that defines her. Fear is an incredibly strong motivator, but does not present a character arc unless the character in question struggles to overcome it. They can fail, certainly, which could make for an interesting narrative in and of itself, but Elsa's problem is that she never really tries to overcome it, just suppress it. There is a difference. A huge one. And Elsa's constant fleeing from her challenges could have been remedied by her actually caring that she shot Anna in the heart with frost. Rather than have her wander in circles in her ice palace muttering to herself while the castle grows teeth (which, I will say, was cool, seeing the environment reflect Elsa's fear) and then have her need to fight for her life, why not have her actually realize that running away from Anna solved nothing, and that she could not protect Anna by severing herself from her sister? Why not have her at least try to set things right? Why not let her actually regret throwing all responsibility away and have her work out for herself that her love for Anna can set things right? And why not let her fail by maybe not getting there in time, and have it so that it ends up being both sisters' love rather than just Anna's that leads to Anna's thawing? If you're thinking, "But it was!", then I say again, Elsa was already mourning for Anna prior to the great self-sacrifice, and Anna was already so loving towards Elsa that this great self-sacrifice really doesn't make sense.

In no way are either Anna or Elsa strongly written characters. Not when they try to serve as main characters. Elsa especially is really only defined by two things: the fact that she is Anna's sister, and her fear of her own powers. Just because a character shows emotion does not mean that they are complex and multidimensional. We wouldn't consider a character who is only ever angry fully developed. Not without exploring that anger and giving that character the chance to overcome it, at least. We wouldn't consider a character who is only ever happy rich and complex. But we're ready to call Elsa "rich" and "complex" because she only experiences fear with a weird smack of "F*** it all!!!" thrown in the middle alongside unconditional love for Anna (which exists without any real sisterly bond and with the knowledge that the accident that incited this whole muddled plot was caused as much by Anna as it was by Elsa) and the constant need to protect Anna by running away from her (which is motivated by fear). Anna and Elsa both have a lot of potential as far as characters go, but they fall flat. That is a fault that rests entirely with the writers / whoever had the final say on this script. Let's be clear on that.

Did you enjoy "Frozen"?

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Some Closing Remarks

Someone is going to try to tell me that I'm being too critical of what is ultimately a fantasy movie targeted at children. However.

Genre and target audience are not excuses for sloppy storytelling.

Writing stories is difficult. There's no denying that. And getting every little thing perfect is nearly impossible. But "Frozen" had a team of people working on it throughout the process, and it's concept comes from a story that Disney has wanted to adapt for years. With all that in mind, how can we possibly praise a movie that has these glaring issues, and then try to justify them as character development?

In writing this article, I wanted to take a look at "Frozen" from an angle that I thought everyone could relate to. There are definitely things throughout the film that are fun and enjoyable, and subtler things that the film does well, but there are also a lot of things that are jarring and that, in my opinion, far outweigh the pros. There's more I could say, but I'd rather not require you to take several days' worth of your time to read it all, so I will end with that.

If you disagree with what I've said in this article, I would very much like to know why. I am open to discussions and reading other people's interpretations. I just ask that you be respectful in your responses. I'm not interested in being told that I'm wrong simply because the critics are saying the exact opposite. I've seen plenty of glowing reviews for "Frozen", and I disagree with almost all of them for the reasons I've outlined above, as well as many more. Now, I've said before and I'll say again that "Frozen" is a very enjoyable movie.

But it does not deserve all of this praise.

And when I say that this time, I'm including the social issues as well as the storytelling ones.

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17 comments

DRF 2 years ago

Nice take. I saw the clip of "Let It Go" before seeing the whole movie, and I was surprised to find how little it matched the rest of the story. "Let It Go" is a song about someone who has constantly been required to hold up a facade and whose attempts at self-expression have been repeatedly thwarted, but none of that actually happened to Elsa in the movie. It doesn't even establish that people in Arendelle think that sorcery is bad (or any other reason why Elsa must keep her powers secret). I thought the trolls were adorable, though. "Fixer-upper" was the scene I enjoyed the most. I saw it as a cute lampooning of overly nosy relatives.

Two problems, though: 1. You don't need hyphens after -ly adverbs. and 2. Oooh-kay... Sansa from "A Song of Ice and Fire" isn't developed. Sansa from "Game of Thrones" is developed. Book-Sansa is a two-dimensional little parrot who is moved this way and that by others and never stands up for herself (standing up for Ser Dontos is pretty much her only act of courage). HBO added the scenes in which she's shown to have learned the court doublespeak, such as when she tries to goad Joffrey into actually entering the Battle of Blackwater ("They say my brother always goes where the fighting is thickest and he's only a pretender" had me cheering).


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krissalus 2 years ago Author

Thanks for your comment. Regarding -ly adverbs, yup, you're right. Bad habit that I've had for years that I haven't been able to shake yet, but I'll do some editing and take care of that. Thanks for the heads up!

As for Sansa, I do think that she gets developed. She's certainly delusional for a good part of the first book, and it does ultimately take a massive, massive mistake to open up her eyes to the fact that her sweet prince is actually a total psycho, but it does happen. I agree that the HBO Sansa is different from the Sansa of the novels, but


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krissalus 2 years ago Author

but my computer freaked out and prevented me from editing that comment. Anyway.

HBO-Sansa is different from novel-Sansa because a TV show cannot really show us the inner thoughts of a character the same way a novel can. The show gives us a more outspoken Sansa who is more openly defiant as a means of showing us that she is not still living in a fantasy, and wants out of her current situation. Book-Sansa, on the other hand, can be more nuanced because the narrative is told from her perspective, and we can see how horrified she is and how much she hates her situation without needing her to speak out, which would put her in danger. So yes, show-Sansa is more openly defiant, but book-Sansa is in survival mode rather than past-the-point-of-caring mode. It's more internal strength than external, which is often overlooked when it comes to female characters. Kind of like Catelyn's "woman's kind of strength". Besides, if Sansa was a total doormat, she wouldn't risk sneaking off to the godswood to meet with Dontos in the first place. It's not the sassy, sword-wielding defiance we might see from another character, but it's still defiance and something that the earlier Sansa never would have done. If we wanted to talk about a character that gets more development in the show than in the books altogether, though, we should talk about Shae. I personally love show-Shae, although I do wonder how they're going to handle upcoming events.

Anyway, getting back to "Frozen", I can definitely see why a lot of people find "Fixer Upper" hilarious, and I do agree with what you said about the trolls reading as obnoxious family members. I can definitely see that. I do, however, agree with Dani Coleman's stance on the scene, and I especially find the part where they respond to "She's engaged!" with "We can fix that!" It demonstrates a complete lack of respect for what, for all they knew, could have been a perfectly healthy relationship. Hans's 180 personality flip makes it very easy to argue against that point, but like I said in the article, he didn't read as a villain until his abrupt character shift so that gets very problematic. I do find that part and the moment where they try to marry Anna and Kristoff on the spot very disconcerting, though.

Regarding what you said about Elsa and "Let It Go", that is an excellent point, and I agree with you completely. :) One of my friends described the song as a great personal climax song... from another movie. Which it sort of was, considering it was supposed to be a villain song.


DRF 2 years ago

HBO Sansa is not different from novel Sansa because they can't show her thoughts--Book-Sansa's thoughts aren't any more complex than her actions--but because the series writers made her smarter and more interesting. It doesn't matter that her actions don't involve swinging a sword; it matters that they don't involve doing anything but parroting back what she's told. Series Sansa doesn't swing a sword either, but she learns to use the court doublespeak, the armor made out of courtesy that we hear about in the books but don't actually see.

And I wouldn't say that Shae "gets more development" in the HBO series. I'd say that Shae is a different character of the same name. BookShae is a faithless user, and she isn't too bright either. SeriesShae actually HAS a character. Compiling the three or so different prostitutes into Ros was another good move.

As for Frozen, someone said that they could practically see the stage musical in it. Hopefully, they'll fix some of these problems when they write the stage book.


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krissalus 2 years ago Author

With all due respect, I don't think that the "armor made out of courtesy" is quite what you think it is. It's not doublespeak and using words to manipulate people, it's using extreme courtesy as a means of shielding yourself. Book-Sansa is really naïve, I can't argue that, nor will I try to, but she does know that her protection extends as far as her ability to keep her head down and not stir up the anger of the Lannisters. It's a way of making sure that her enemies not only have no reason to hurt her, but no motive to do it, either. That's why its armor, not a weapon. Regarding her development, something as simple as the descriptions of her view of Joffrey changing from a shining, golden prince to an ugly monster with lips that remind her of worms shows that her mindset has changed. Her perception of him directly affects how she sees him. And she stops viewing the world as a fairytale and all the knights she meets as the heroes from the stories. That's what I'm talking about when I say development. She holds on to the hope that maybe she'll find an unlikely hero in Dontos, sure, but she's really hoping for an escape more than she's hoping for a romantic, fairytale ending. You may have a different interpretation of the word "development", and seem to, but I am referring to how she changes internally over the course of the book. And by the end of "A Feast For Crows", Sansa is in the process of learning a lot from Littlefinger and knows how to mentally and emotionally handle (or manipulate, you could say) her childish cousin. That's also why I mentioned her in relation to Anna from "Frozen". Sansa has what Anna lacks: an emotional arc.

I would agree with what you said about show-Shae vs. book-Shae in that they are distinctly different characters. But the show's Shae does get more development than the book's Shae does. Book-Shae has a character, it's just not particularly deep. Which is perfectly fine, considering she is meant to be just a shallow minor character. "Character development" isn't just about how smart a character is, though. A really stupid character can be multi-faceted and fully developed. It just depends on how much the writer / story invests in them as a character.


Lily 2 years ago

This is all your opinion. You may have problems with it. But still look how popular it is and all of the awards it gotten.


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krissalus 2 years ago Author

Hi Lily--

If you'd like to discuss the movie and explain why you disagree with me, I'm all for that! But all you did was... well, exactly what I said not to do in the final section. So either you missed that part, or you're purposefully ignoring it. If you really want to talk about the movie and make some actual counterpoints other than "Well, a lot of people liked it, so you're wrong," go for it. Otherwise, you go your way and I'll go mine, I guess.


Imani Bey 2 years ago

Pretty thought provoking article. I'm not much of a TV watcher but did love Frozen. Everyone's entitled to their opinion though, and a thoughtful article makes for gr8 reading.


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krissalus 2 years ago Author

Imani Bey--

I'm so glad you enjoyed the article even though you loved the movie. I agree, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but I do like to look at things critically. :) Thank you for taking the time to read and comment!


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AshtonFirefly 2 years ago

Wow, that is a lot of information! :) First of all, great writing style. Even with all that information, you did a great job at flow of thought and organization. Now, to the content. Sorry this is going to be really long.

I will attempt to address each heading as you did, thus the first thing I will discuss is:

1. The beginning of the movie. To be honest, when I first saw the movie, it was the initial song that threw me off. Whether that was from a particular expectation or not, it still hasn't quite worn off. As far as Kristoff is concerned, I personally understood him to be an orphan the first time I saw it because there were so many men there and he was the only child there. I think that this was an attempt on their part to introduce the culture of the area (harvesting ice) while introducing a main character. Immediately after that, we see Anna and Elsa. I think also that they portrayed the two girls' bond well, but you pointed out that from here on out the bond was somewhat forced, that there was no basis for this bond later. I have to agree on that point. I didn't feel that her parents locking her up in a room would keep her from loving her sister or wanting to not hurt her sister. At this age, I don't think she would have taken it quite so seriously. However, we could assume that the situation was extremely traumatic. However, if such a fear was encouraged by her parents (locking her in her room, etc.) then I might see how she would be fearful. I just don't see how throughout their entire childhood, there was never an occasion, an instance, where there would be chance for doubt, for a moment of sharing, of remembrance, of regret on Elsa's part. Children are not good at keeping secrets. This kind of flows into the rest of what you were saying about Anna and Elsa's relationship. I especially like your point that an act of true love was what Anna had been doing all along! It seems that their relationship was one-sided at best. I also wrote an article on this movie and the main thing that confused me was that Elsa claimed to not want to hurt Anna, and yet her actions were obviously hurting her more than knowing about her powers ever would have. I would assume that by the time Elsa became an adult, she would have grasped this. However, she maintained the mindset of a child. I may, however, give that some leeway because Elsa chose to isolate herself from all others, inhibiting social interaction and learning. I also tend to see the relationship in this light: Anna was the younger sister, had lost a mother, and was desperately yearning for a motherly type affection. Since she was ignorant of everything that had happened prior, she still held that childhood mentality of what it was like to be good friends with her sister. I think what the movie is presenting is an extremely dysfunctional relationship where one sister loves the other but does not know how to adequately express it, while the other loves unconditionally. The only time Anna seems to be frustrated with this is when Elsa prevents her from getting married.

....to be continued....too many words for one comment....


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AshtonFirefly 2 years ago

2. Breaks in narrative.

I don't feel that there's necessarily a break in flow at the point of "Let it Go." I rather appreciated the deviation from the norm and the insertion of a semi-climatic event towards the beginning of the movie. However, I agree that your note that she didn't really change after this point, was somewhat contradictory of what the song was saying. She claimed to want to be herself but she was too afraid to be herself when it came knocking on her door. Quite literally. Even at the climatic point, when Anna was ready to confront Elsa and sort out their issues, Elsa gave in to fear and did not recognize the effort that Anna had placed to sort things out. In fact, Elsa's extreme desire to protect her sister was based, it seemed, more of a fear of feeling guilty for hurting anyone, than it was for hurting her sister. Sending a huge snowman and having it throw your sister down a flight of icy stairs didn't seem like the most loving thing to do. She showed no amount of interest in how she could create life, all the effort Anna had placed into making things right, and still insisted that she protect anna, even though the sequence of events prior suggested that that was not the best option. Now, I tend to see Elsa from this perspective: she was highly mentally dysfunctional. However, this causes problems in other areas. She was terrified of her powers, terrified of hurting her sister, and terrified of herself. In effect, the whole movie she was terrified. Which brings me to the other points you discussed:

3. Anna and Elsa's characters

I do see your opinion on Anna's character, but I slightly disagree on it. I see Anna as (I assumed she was about 18ish or so) as a young, orphaned girl who was desperate for love and attention, and was still very childlike in manner. She was admittedly dumb as a rock, but motivated by a true love for her sister. Whether or not this is on believable grounds, well I guess I already discussed that. But if we grant that she truly did love her sister, and did all those things for her, I see her as an extremely emotional, stupid, hardheaded young woman, and all her actions somewhat make sense. In my opinion, I don't think Disney was attempting to make her into a strong character; I think they were wanting to portray her as not very smart, impulsive, hasty, and awkward.

As far as Elsa is concerned, I agree with you. She doesn't change much. Even at the end. It seems like the ending was rushed and suddenly Elsa fully understood what love was even though she was completely oblivious to every action her sister had taken. (But I get ahead of myself.) Elsa, to me, seems like a highly troubled, dysfunctional character who is ruled by their fear. She is actually somewhat annoying in that sense. She has good social skills (how, I don't know. She never seemed to communicate it with anyone in order to develop it) but is terrified of herself. And also extremely bipolar. I think they did a good job at representing the type of person she was, and how one who was like that would react, EXCEPT when it came to her sister, at the end of the movie, and all the ways I have previously mentioned.

Olaf was obviously the comic relief, but I didn't necessarily see his position in the movie as so obvious that it couldn't be enjoyed. I think he contributed some great dialogue. I never saw him as a "memory" trigger necessarily, and I like how they initiated, off hand, his creation in the "Let it Go" song, to have some backround to go by. Instead of just letting Kristoff and Anna "happen" to run into him. It makes his presence there make sense.

Kristoff's appearance, I felt, was rather cleverly done. It made sense for him to be at the store, it made sense that Anna would meet him there. What seemed a little too coincidental was the fact that Kristoff happened to be one of the [apparently] very few who knew about these trolls. However, I leave some slack on that and it doesn't necessarily interfere with the flow, when I watch the movie.

I have attempted to address your main points on the movie, and I hope I have understood you correctly and not missed anything. It was a lot of information, and I tried to read it as thoroughly and repetitively as I could in order to see your whole argument. I would like to present my brief, overall view of the movie without addressing your points, if you don't mind :)

I see frozen as, first and foremost, a children's movie; and yes I did read what you wrote about that :) However, I think the depth of character that I would have liked from the movie does not exist for, chiefly, that reason. I think they were attempting to get a general point across, not a deep one. I think since the movie did, however, introduce at least the indication of depth, that leaves us wanting more, and hoping to find it throughout the movie, when it was really only attempting to do so in a shallow manner. I feel that the movie has a lot of gaps which leave questions, but to me, that allows me to re-create in my mind what could have or would have happened in that amount of time to make the movie make sense. To me, some are insurmountable (such as the relationship between the sisters) but some are forgivable. I think one's overall opinion of the movie determines what we "forgive" or don't. I personally find a lot in common with the movie and I'm a dialogue person. If the dialogue is good and the plot not devastatingly flawed, I'll usually like it a lot. I also can relate my relationship with my sister to Anna's and Elsa's so that gives me personal interest in the story and more willingness to forgive flaws that perhaps should be unforgivable. I was initially inclined to like the movie, then disappointed, then liked the movie afterwards, when it had not met my expectations. I see two sisters struggling to have a good relationship (I think this was Disney's attempt to reach the growing number of children who live in dysfunctional families) and also the implication of a more untested story in which the romance between a man and woman is not central. I like the introduction of Anna wanting to marry hans immediately. This was almost like a self-criticism of the typical, "they meet, they fall in love, they live happily ever after" spiel. It introduced a unique perspective: romance and love based on an actual relationship, not love at first sight. I think the audience was directed at children (and I know you said before that that does not excuse sloppy storytelling, and I agree) and I think that if they were attempting to get the message across that love for family was important, that love requires effort, that a relationship was not "love at first sight," then I think they did a phenomenal job, because children are not going to think about what really makes sense psychologically. They see the movie, they get general concepts, it makes them laugh, and that's it. Movie enjoyed. I think that the movie had so much depth and wisdom buried inside of it that, had it not been a children's show, it could have easily been made, with certain tweaks, of course, into an adult's movie, just with much more depth added. I feel that the depth was appropriate for the audience and that the main points were well executed for children only. For those of us, such as myself, who love the movie for various reasons, I am able to fill the "gaps" myself, and make it personal and enjoyable to me, but simply because I want to. I recognize all the flaws and yet I really like it anyway, and I really don't know why. To me, that's the purpose of entertainment, and so no matter how many plot holes there are, if I enjoy it, it's all that matters!

I really enjoyed reading this hub, and although we disagree and agree on some points, it was very informative and interesting. GREAT HUB! :)


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krissalus 2 years ago Author

AshtonFirefly--

Thank you very much for your well thought-out comments!

We do seem to agree on a lot of points, though disagree on others. Which is all right, and was very interesting to read.

To address your point about there never being a moment of doubt or even sharing on Elsa's part, I feel that that is one of the most problematic aspects of that montage. You're right, kids are not very good at keeping secrets, but the film never showed the two girls interacting beyond Elsa telling Anna to go away. I think that if they had shown them giggling and whispering through the door, only to have Anna quickly ushered away and both of them scolded for it (or something like that), it could have helped alleviate the problem. We would have at least gotten another interaction that way, and seen that the sisters really did want to be together rather than one taking things way too far and shutting the other out. I agree that the movie is showcasing a dysfunctional relationship, but I don't think that that was intentional, mainly because there's never really a moment where they tackle that dysfunction and work past it. It's all (as you noted) Anna making all the effort, and Elsa sending a snow monster to literally throw her sister out of her life. That really detracted from the film for me, and frustrated me as a viewer to the point where I could no longer enjoy the movie.

Regarding "Let It Go", I can see your point about it being a nice deviation from the norm. In a way, I think it could have worked where it was, though I'm still bothered by the fact that Elsa never practices with her powers before this point. However, it really is the aftermath that destroys it, and makes the sequence stick out like a sore thumb. I do agree with you in that Elsa was mentally unstable, but I really don't like the way the film handled that element, i.e. by having Anna "fix" her by the end of the movie after treating her as something that needed to be "fixed" throughout the earlier parts of the film. That's just not how mental health problems should be treated

I definitely agree with you about Olaf's creation, though. I actually really liked that element and was glad that he carried more weight than just being the haphazard encounter in the woods, though I would still argue that his lines of repeated dialogue set up a memory trigger that the movie just refuses to deliver on, and I really don't understand why. I did enjoy him as a character (though several of my friends found him too annoying to bear...), and think he did provide some heartwarming moments, though it's a bit problematic when the best relationship in the film is between a very naïve girl and a talking snowman.

A word on the "strong character" note about Anna, though, is that she could have been a strong character if she'd been allowed to have more of an emotional arc. This is why I prefer to use "strongly written" in place of "strong", because it should not be an automatically terrible thing for a character to be naïve (or stupid) and emotional. That leaves room for a lot of personal growth, but "Frozen" just didn't dip into that. It's another reason why I wanted the film to focus more on the sisters' relationship and give them the chance to work through their problems; it could have served as the emotional arc for both Anna and Elsa.

Regarding your thoughts on the film, I agree with what you said for the most part, though I'd like to offer a counterpoint to the children getting the general concepts of "Frozen" vs. the psychological ones. Disney has not been afraid to tackle darker themes in the past. "Pocahontas" blatantly tackles racism (though not perfectly), "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" shows a man driven so insane by lust that he is willing to kill (again, not perfectly), and "The Lion King" is all about taking on responsibility and doing the right thing even when running away is easier. While it's true that kids are not going to go into deep analysis for these movies, they still are taking away the messages that certain things are bad, and that it's important to do the right thing. In that regard, "Frozen" concerns me, because Anna keeps running at Elsa with little to no regard for the danger, and Elsa keeps pushing Anna away again and again. There needed to be a point where Anna said "This is not okay, and it needs to stop," but because that does not happen, she keeps flinging herself at a very problematic relationship, and does not try to work though it. The very same thing could be said for Elsa, who just keeps running away all the time. It's a little disconcerting to see this play out on screen, and basically tell younger audiences that emotionally abusive relationships are okay because they "don't really mean it" and it can all be "fixed" just like that. Obviously, forgiveness and compassion are very strong values for a children's movie, but with the way "Frozen" is set up, I honestly feel that those elements are lacking so much more than they are present.

I probably just opened up a whole new can of worms, but anyway. Thank you again for your comments, and for taking the time to read this. (Looking back, yeah, it is a lot of info!) I'm glad that you enjoyed the hub, even if we don't agree on everything :)


Tatianna 2 years ago

Lol you sure spent a lot of time on a movie you don't like.. It's a cartoon for Christ's sake. Stop dissecting and trying to create problems. Either you like it or not but you don't have to speak out against it so harshly. I love the movie and I'm not about to let someone convince me to hate it. Im sure no one else will too. So what's the point of this? Dude, get a life and blog about more serious issues worth yours and everybody's time. Me? I'm not a hypocrite. I don't hate your post, I'm just amused and shaking my head at you. Who knows, maybe with all of this dedication you have in you, you could do something with your life... Just saying...


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krissalus 2 years ago Author

Dear Tatianna--

This was worth my time. And the time of a few others, hopefully. I got thoughtful and engaging conversations out of it, even if everyone did not agree with my viewpoints, which is totally okay. For me, though, this article was a critical look at storytelling, which plays a big role in my actual life.

It's fine that you enjoyed the movie and that you don't agree with my analysis, but I'm also not about to let someone convince me to not look at it (or other films / books / video games, etc.) critically. It's how I learn and, in a lot of cases, develop a new level of appreciation for things that have been done well.

Just saying.

Thanks for reading.


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Ally Lewis 2 years ago from Pittsburgh, PA

YESSSSSS I knew I would love this hub just from the title. I wrote a similar hub about Frozen and the flaws in it, but certainly not as in-depth as you did (feel free to check it out though!). Thank you for saying what everyone needs to hear: the movie isn't that great.


Scott Johnson 2 years ago

This is a fantastic article. I love that it's so in-depth talking about what I believe is the biggest issues of Frozen, with the storytelling and lack of character development. Something I believe that's critical to Frozen's overall success is how it is overtly promoted as going against the Disney grain with the ending and climax. There's a lot to think about what worked in the movie considering Hans and Olaf (Who I believe is the best character in the movie), but it's almost like the movie succeeds because it was intentionally made to dash expectations.

The biggest issue with that are in the first 20 minutes with all of the significantly bad storytelling. You have the parents with their incredibly short-sighted treatment of the problem and Anna/Elsa's relationship never getting explored by during the montage. But the dialogue and song lyrics are incredibly obvious talking about distance, exposition, feelings or lack their of. Like with "Do You Want to Build a Snowman."

"I never see you anymore, come out the door

It's like you've gone away

We used to be best buddies, and now we're not

I wish you would tell me why."

Then after the time skip, we emphasis so much on Anna's simplistic personality. What irritated me the most is when they Duke of Weselton is introduced as the secondary antagonist, because his first line is: "Ah, Arendelle, our most mysterious trade partner. Open those gates so I may unlock your secrets and exploit your riches! Did I say that out loud?"

Like...seriously? You really want to go that route by making it that focusing on this oh-so-clear villain?

This only levitates when "Let It Go" plays. And even though you could dissect Let it Go for having obvious lyrics too, it's so incredibly well produced and has such great imagery around it that you can forgive that.

But going into that, this is why people love that movie because it shook up expectations. It didn't end the traditional Disney style with a marriage, it ended on the sisterly bonding note. So I get why people love it for subverting your expectations when it comes to the general "Princess Formula." Yet at the same time...I can't forgive the movie for making the first 20 minutes intentionally weak and bad.

Still, thank you for writing this. It is an exceptional study of Frozen as a movie and where it fails in the storytelling department. Mostly people want to call out nitpicking the plot or delving too much into the moral implications. But when something is so overhyped and overplayed like Frozen is? It deserves this type of honest criticism.


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belleart 22 months ago from Ireland

Really good hub, very happy with the fact that i'm not the only one that saw HUGE flaws in both Anna and Elsa. You write extremely well on the subject, I enjoyed reading it.

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