By Jacob Ladue
Frozen, Walt Disney Animation Studios – PG
Disney just released their latest animated movie, Frozen, from the same creators as Tangled and despite lackluster marketing that might suggest differently, this movie is not like any of their others. Frozen was released on November 27th and it’s already grossed over 100 million dollars in the United States alone and there is a reason why: this movie has heart and messages (yes, multiple) that actually mean something.
Frozen is loosely based off Hans Christian Andersen’s classic The Snow Queen and features two strong young princesses, one named Elsa (Idina Menzel) with a power to create snow and ice and the other, Anna (Kristen Bell), her younger sister with a hopeful and playful personality. One thing that immediately stands out is that Elsa is born with a power rather than being cursed by a cruel or evil witch. But after an accident involving her ability, Elsa and Anna’s parents ignorantly try to protect their family by shutting away from everyone in the kingdom and by deciding to never speak of her power again. Any gay person in the audience can relate and see the parallels between her ability and homosexuality. It was something she was born with, but people didn’t understand it, they even feared it, so they tried to keep it hidden.
As a young gay man, I use to (and still do) loathe watching movies because I knew there would eventually be a worn out heterosexual love story that was only there because two people of the opposite sex were single. I also (being the little romantic I am) scoffed at how two characters could fall in love so easily, seemingly in a day. Frozen hits this nail on the head brilliantly by having young Anna, so desperately seeking love after the accident and isolation thereafter, meet a young prince, Hans (Santino Fontana), and decides to marry him that very same day. Elsa, recently coronated as Queen, denies her approval of this hasty decision and this is when the story starts to take off. In the effort to create her own life and happiness, Anna upsets her sister, so much so that Elsa accidentally reveals the power she kept hidden for so long. Startled, the townspeople throw slurs and shocked remarks and Elsa flees the kingdom unknowingly throwing the world into an endless winter.
One amazing thing about this movie is that, there are no evil characters; only human ones (good and bad) and the subsequent fear humans create from the unknown is the true antagonist. Elsa flees to the top of an icy peak and creates a world for herself and in a Broadway style number sings,
“Don’t let them in, don’t let them see
Be the good girl you always have to be
Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know
Well now they know…
Let it go, let it go”
Elsa is finally coming to terms with her abilities and tries to accept herself, but shuts herself off from the rest of the world. How many times has a young gay person learned to love him or herself, but the culture around them hasn’t, so they flee to a more accepting land? In an attempt to not spoil the rest of the film, Elsa confronts herself, her abilities and the ones she loves to fully embrace herself as a whole.
Frozen doesn’t only have story lines comparable to homosexual acceptance, but creates refreshingly needed characters without gender stereotypes. In Anna’s attempt to find and bring her sister home, she meets a young ice harvester (rough time for that career) named Kristoff (Jonathan Groff). Not only is Groff the first Disney “prince” voiced by a gay actor, but also his character is unlike any other prince seen before him. He’s awkward and kooky, often has conversations with himself as if he’s his pet reindeer and most importantly doesn’t view women as objects, but as equals, equating Anna’s ability to her personality rather than her gender. (Later in the film he even ASKS PERMISSION to kiss rather than assuming his affections are reciprocated). Kristoff is a “prince” that often needs saving and more often than not he’s saved by Anna.
Disney is slowly transforming into something different than it’s racist and sexist roots, but they aren’t off the hook yet. Even the animators of Frozen have gotten themselves into some hot water, but it is truly refreshing to finally see such positive role models in one of their films. Most of us have fond memories of watching Disney movie’s growing up, so we tend to try to ignore the negative lessons in many of the films, but the world is changing so it’s only right they catch up as well. The biggest morals Frozen is trying to convey is that love of family and communication between loved ones is what is most important in life. Love of a man shouldn’t be (and isn’t) the most important thing to a young woman and opening up about a part of oneself, instead of locking it up within, is what is most healthy. (Not to mention the musical numbers are amazing!) If you’re trying to figure something to do with your family this weekend, go see Frozen, you won’t be disappointed.
P.S. Josh Gad plays a touchingly sweet snowman named Olaf who just wants to find out what summer feels like and I promise he’ll have you in stitches.