MovieBob - Intermission
Let's Talk About the Ending of Frozen

Bob "MovieBob" Chipman | 29 Nov 2013 16:00
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frozen princes

This will be a generational touchstone, revisited with only partially ironic shell-shock by whomever/whatever the 20 years from now equivalents of The Nostalgia Critic are: "Remember in Frozen when the good guy turned out to be evil? That was messed up!"

As good a twist as it is on broad cinematic terms, it's an all-time stunner in terms of the Disney canon - the context of which Frozen can't avoid being seen in. Most prominently, it makes Anna wrong and Kristoff (and Elsa!) right about True Love At First Sight™ being a bunch of malarkey. Yes, Kristoff realizes that he's in love in with Anna and comes riding to the rescue, but it's rather pointedly well after they've both participated in a musical number that amounts to a Disneyfied version of "Love The One You're With." Furthermore, though they do indeed wind up "together" (hey, I said this was a spoiler piece) they're taking it slow - no rings or weddings. As it turns out, "True Love's Kiss" (from either guy) isn't the act of love that breaks Anna's spell - she breaks it herself, by sacrificing her own life (temporarily) to stop Hans from beheading Elsa during the big climactic fight sequence.

The significance of this cannot be overstated, in context: this is the Disney of the 21st Century repudiating the Disney of the 20th; or at least that Disney's central thematic message regarding matters of the heart as imparted to young children: Frozen is the Disney Princess movie where The Handsome Prince turns out to be a sleazy bad guy (who gets punched in the face by The Princess!), "real" romantic love is a long-term project you work at, and that weddings/kisses/etc are nigh-inconsequential next to maintain bonds between sisters.

There's a bit more floating around in this one, to be sure: It's very interesting that Elsa (who ends the film embraced by her family and subjects, powers and all) not only isn't provided with a love interest... she never once even hints at being interested in one. More than a few critics and commentators have wondered/suggested that perhaps we're meant to "read" Elsa as being a lesbian, with her powers acting as an unsubtle metaphor for the same the way it does in the X-Men movies - she was, after all, born this way.

I'm not sure if that was the explicit authorial intent (not that anyone at Disney would ever admit to it if it were), but queer-theory subtext is an extremely easy metaphor to draw; especially since Elsa's big "I am becoming" musical number ("Let It Go,") visualizes her "coming out" by stripping out of her hairpins and modest, body-covering cloak and gloves and emerging as a big-haired, hip-swaying, sashaying diva in a sparkling silver dress and cape number that carry an unmistakable drag-show pizzazz.

In other words, whatever she's "meant to be" in the film (frankly, the idea of a Princess who doesn't see a romantic partner as a mandatory accessory is revolutionary in itself, regardless what type of partner she might prefer), Elsa is pretty-much a ready-made LGBTQ icon right out of the box, and "Let It Go" (which starts as self-pity but climaxes as a soaring anthem to not just self-acceptance but self-adulation) is practically begging to be repurposed as the gender-unbound sibling to "I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar."

And there it is. Frozen: Fairytale insta-romance is bunk, buying into it can make you a mark for predators, that which makes you "different" should not only be embraced but flaunted, and who needs a damn Prince to begin with, anyway? Are Elsa and Anna the first modern "feminist" Disney Princesses? That might be a stretch. But make no mistake, in their own way they're radical - or, at least, as radical as you can be while staring out of cardboard boxes in The Pink Aisle. And so is their movie - and not only because it manages to pull off one of the best "gotcha!" twists in kiddie-movie history.

Bob Chipman is a film critic and independent filmmaker. If you've heard of him before, you have officially been spending way too much time on the internet. Aside from his work at The Escapist, he wrote a book and does a videogame criticism show.

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