Frozen (Movie) – Review
WHAT IS IT ABOUT?
Disney’s 53rd animated feature is a whimsical story inspired by Han Christian Anderson’s classic fairy-tale The Snow Queen. The infectious musical follows two princess: Elsa, whom possesses a mysterious power to control the elements of winter, and Anna, her quirky, free-spitted younger sister. During a frightening childhood incident Elsa temporarily loses control of her ability, nearly killing Anna. As a result, the King and Queen elect to keep Elsa locked away in the castle and her powers a secret. In doing so, all of Anna’s memories regarding her sister’s magic are erased. As years pass (through a musical montage, of course) the once-close sisters grow distant due to Elsa’s isolation. Later, on the day of Elsa’s coronation, an argument with Anna leads to Elsa revealing her dark secret. Elsa flees for her life and, in the process, traps the kingdom in an eternal winter. Anna and a rag-tag company of eccentric characters must depart on a journey to find Elsa and convince her to end the winter. Meanwhile, Elsa must accept and finally embrace the power she’s be taught to keep secret her entire life.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
Frozen may be about an eternal winter, but its performance has been sizzling. The musical snatched two Academy Awards (Best Animated Feature, Best Original Song), a Golden Globe, and countless other hardware. The juggernaut surpassed $1,100,000,000 in Worldwide Gross, making it the 6th highest earner of all time. With an inevitable Broadway adaption already in the works, Frozen will be a cultural mainstay for many years to come. And let’s be honest, if you’ve checked Facebook, visited a mall, or turned on a radio at any point during the last few year you’ve likely been infected by the maddeningly catchy “Let it Go.”
A CRITICAL REVIEW
Love or hate them, Disney is a well oiled machine. Since releasing Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs way back in 1937 the studio has been cranking out great films. Frozen is no exception, holding its own alongside Disney’s earlier classics. The animation is top notch, following in the footsteps of 2010’s Tangled in combining CGI with classic hand-drawn animation. The result is stunning, as the film feels modern without sacrificing any nostalgia. The script had actually been floating around the studio since the late 90’s, undergoing several treatments. The patience and careful crafting has paid off, resulting in a crisp, purposeful narrative (as opposed to a film like 2012’s Brave). Another strength is Frozen’s ability to appeal across the whole spectrum. There are princesses in pretty dresses for young girls, fight scenes for the boys, and a hilarious talking snowman for the kids (and adults).
My only knock against the story is that the narrative is rushed. I’ll admit I’m nitpicking, but after glossing over the princesses’ childhoods (during a musical monologue, of course) the remainder of the story unfolds over the span a single day (perhaps two days, at most). Hearing characters speak of being “trapped in an eternal winter” an hour or so after the first snowflake seemed slightly over-dramatic. Also, poor Elsa remained locked in the castle for a over a decade when she only needed a single evening to gain complete control of her powers. Poor thing! But alas, this is only a minor gripe. Chances are you will be far too busy singing along to even notice.
A CHRISTIAN PERSPECTIVE
A) Portrayal of Romance.
Frozen is a fascinating film because it represents a shift away from many of the classic elements that have come to define a “Disney Film.” That is not champion it as a new golden standard as in some ways Frozen is a step back from the deconstruction of the unhealthy idealism of woman’s body image attempted with Merida’s untamable ginger locks in Brave. Unfortunately both princess sisters still boast anorexic waistlines that look ready to snap in half at the first light breeze. Nevertheless, Frozen plays out as a clever self-parody of classic Disney formula: 1 Waltz = True Love. How refreshing to see a more grounded representation of romantic relationships. With Twilight, 50 Shades of Gray, and Endless Love bombarding culture with examples of young ladies sacrificing everything (family, standards, virginity) for the fast-track love of alluring men, I commend Disney for offering an alternative message. Make no mistake, this is still a Disney movie so the princess ensures her man before the closing credits. Also of note, in another welcome twist the “true love” focus is actually focused more on the sisterly love than romantic.
B) Gay Agenda?
Plug Frozen Controversy into Google and you’ll discover that people are not shy about dissecting and condemning this film for a plethora of reasons. The main accusation is on supposed gay undertones. Several Christian conservatives have even blasted the movie as blatant homosexual propaganda. Seem crazy? Let me summarize: Elsa’s magical powers are symbolic of her homosexual nature (notably, unlike her sister, she doesn’t find or seem interested in finding a male suitor). Elsa cannot change the way she has been born (her parents tell the magic troll she has been “born with” and not “cursed”). As a result, she must hide away her true nature:“Be the good girl you always have to be. Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know.” However, eventually she realizes she must “Let it Go,” embrace who she truly is, and finds sexual empowerment (Watch video above and check out the full song lyrics here: http://bit.ly/1iOsq9O).
Can a movie viewer interpret these lyrics and Elsa’s journey through a lens of a gay agenda? Sure can! Does that mean we should? Not at all. We must be careful to avoid over-allegorizing, lest we end up with The Matrix as a Christian Gospel tract. Seriously, I aced a high school essay arguing Green Eggs and Ham was symbolic of racism and assimilation into the cultural melting pot. My point? People will interpret according to their own bias. The LGBT community will likely latch onto the gay possibilities, while Christians can affirm the messages of love and sacrifice. Personally, I took Elsa’s journey to represent anything that makes someone different. Homosexual tendencies obviously fall into that category, but the LGBT community doesn’t hold a monopoly on being the underdog.
The other significant moment occurs when the quirky (and perhaps feminine) shop Oaken owner directs Anna’s attention to a sauna and remarks “Hi family!” The camera cuts briefly to this scene (depicted on below). Wait…Did Disney just include its first openly gay couple and family? Depends on how you interprets several elements. First, is Oaken’s reference “Hi family” general (ie. Hi girl/boy) or personal to his family? Secondly, is the individual on the right of the large man a woman/wife or another child? The script writers have thus far refused to put an end to the debate (which makes sense, as to do so would be to enrage one of the two most out-spoken communities). Therefore, at the end of the day you must form your own opinion on the scene.
My Take: Either way, it is a non-issue. Most likely, you didn’t give the scene a second thought until blogs like this one pointed it out. Is Oaken in a gay relationship? Possibly. Does it matter? Not really. That most adults haven’t noticed the extremely brief scene means children won’t either. To suggest that such a fleeting moment as this will pull children into an alternative lifestyle would be to say that had a small crucifix hung on the wall as the camera panned past, children would instantly convert to Catholicism (And we’d probably applaud the scene as a victory for the Kingdom. Let’s be careful to avoid a double-standard). Ultimately the possible existence of gay undertones will only detract from your (or your children’s) viewing experience as much as you allow. Much like most formal debates on the topic, the undertones will do more to affirm existing belief than lead to changes minds.
*NOTE: Whether or not this opens the door for more blatantly gay themes in future Disney films is an important question, but is a bridge to cross at a later time.*
C) The Portrayal of Evil.
There are no crooked-nosed, wart-covered witches in Frozen (much to the delight of my 29 year-old brother who is still terrified by Sleeping Beauty’s Maleficent). Frozen offers the first Disney “villain” who doubles as a heroine. The movie’s conflict is not beautiful good guys in white against ugly bad guys in black. Instead, it is an internal struggle that must be overcome within the individual – The choice to love or hate; to use your life to for good or for evil.
One of the primary mistakes made when Christian’s engage culture is to operate only in extremes. As some have derided Frozen for the reasons discussed above, others have dubbed it the most Christian film of the year. Again, there is danger in forcing a story into an allegorical framework. To advocate that Frozen is a beautiful Christian allegory about love conquering our evil human nature and sin is far too simplistic an interpretation. The allegory crumbles when any pressure is applied. The magic represents something dangerous but also something empowering to be embraced. Is it sin? Is it spirituality? The supernatural in general? Clearly The Pilgrim’s Progress, Frozen is not. However, that does not mean there isn’t plenty available for Christians to affirm. Let’s not get too picky. With so many films brimming with rotted trash, let’s take advantage of a family-friendly film filled with several positive teaching points.
Frozen is as clean as they come. The possible gay undertones should be noted.;yet, even if true, the themes are powerless and will be spotted by only those looking for them. Nevertheless, parents should still be aware of the possible interpretations even if their children will be oblivious.
Overcoming Fear. Love. Sibling Relationships. Embracing Who God Made You. Being Yourself.
WHO IS IT FOR?
The whole family. Parents who are cautious to shield their children from the movie due to the possible gay content shouldn’t be surprised if their children already know every lyric to the contagious songs. Better to watch movie as family so that you can discuss your kid’s questions should they pick-up on the questionable undertones (but I wouldn’t count on them doing so). Better yet, simply enjoy a family flick together in time when they are becoming increasingly harder to find.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Frozen is another solid entry in Disney’s already impressive arsenal. With elements to please an audience across the entire spectrum, Frozen is a suitable choice for a fun family evening. Be aware of how some in the Christian community are interpreting the film, but don’t give undeserved power to the possible homosexual undertones. Rather then turning a children’s musical into a deep ethical discourse, simply enjoy the good, ignore the possible bad, and best of luck trying to get that song out of your head!
Have you seen the movie? Do you Agree or Disagree with my review? Sound off below!
**Disagreement is welcome…hateful comments toward others is not. Be curtious or your comments will go the way of the Cassette tape**