Frozen: Breaking The Boundaries
Commentary Piece by Ellie Benitez
Disney has done it again.
Frozen was a spectacular masterpiece, not only because of the magnificent animation, but also—and especially—because of the storyline. As a modern audience, we are more than used to the stereotypical Disney storyline of the gorgeous and innocent princess meeting the handsome prince and falling in love in record time. And at first, it seemed like the writers were heading in that direction when Anna meets Hans.
But then suddenly everything gets turned wonderfully upside down.
Based loosely on Hans Christian Andersen’s short story The Snow Queen, Frozen borrows several elements from one of the founding fathers of fairytales. In the original story, a young girl embarks on a dangerous journey to save her friend whose heart has been frozen by the evil Snow Queen. In the end, her love melts the shards of ice that had changed him to the point of leaving his home for the Snow Queen, and they live happily ever after together. The writers of Frozen had cleverly gathered jewels of inspiration from Andersen’s story and then built off that foundation to create a film that warmed the hearts of the young and old alike. Take this quote from Andersen’s tale:
A few snowflakes were falling outside, and one of these, the biggest of them all, remained lying on the edge of one of the flower-boxes. The snow-flake grew larger and larger, till at last it became the figure of a woman dressed in the most delicate white gauze, which was made of millions of tiny star shaped flakes. She was pretty and distinguished looking, but a figure of ice—glaring, glittering ice. Yet she was alive; her eyes stared like two bright stars, but there was no peace or quiet in them.
The writers grabbed hold of this image and ran with it, creating the centerpiece of the entire movie—Elsa’s song “Let It Go”—where they animated the beautiful transformation of Elsa’s coronation dress into one made of ice.
But the excitement and magic doesn’t stop with the writers’ flashes of brilliance (ahem, the two twists at the end, anyone?). No, Frozen has a life of its own. Fans are picking up the story and adding pieces of themselves through pictures, drawings, gifs, videos, storyline continuations, and even added lyrics. (Image 2)
Is Rapunzel from Tangled somehow related to Anna and Elsa? When Anna runs out the newly opened gates on her sister’s coronation day, we can see Rapunzel and Eugene arriving for the ceremony (Image 4). Obviously this means that they live in the same “world,” but does it mean something more?
Is Frozen the first Disney movie to teach young girls about independence and realistic expectations? Many people are excited about how Disney is breaking its own stereotypes, (Image 3) while others are upset that past films such as Mulan, Lilo and Stitch, and Brave are not getting due credit for their story lines based on independent women taking hold of their own fate.
Should Elsa and Jack Frost from Rise of the Guardians be a couple? (Image 5) While they are not from the same creators, they are too similar—ice powers, white blonde hair, tragic backstories—and too adorably suitable for one another that it doesn’t really matter. Love can leap over any boundaries, right?
People are talking about Frozen, about the beauty and the love and the heartfelt
moments that make us just want to keep smiling. And honestly, I don’t think it’s going to stop any time soon. Our love has broken the story past the confining boundaries of the film and allowed us to create some truly wonderful things.
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