Plot: 4 Stars (Spoilers)
The plotline of Frozen seems designed to encourage young women to be heroic. There is no over-arching super-villain that is keeping Anna and Elsa apart. Instead, they are the protagonists and antagonists of their own story. Their turbulent relationship is the cause of all the conflict in Arendelle, and the resolution depends on them solving their own problems. Frozen sets up the typical fairy tale ending of a curse that can only be broken by “an act of true love,” and goes on to send a message that “true love” comes in many forms. That romantic love isn’t the only thing that can restore a frozen heart. That a woman’s love is just as powerful as a man’s.
Character Development: 4.5 Stars (Spoilers)
Anna’s story begins like many other princess stories, she’s a simple girl in search love - hoping that romance will replace the loneliness she feels at home. She isn’t seeking adventure or heroism, but she still answers the call when the time comes. Some audiences, however, may be disappointed to see that Anna doesn’t save the kingdom through quick-thinking or impossible tasks, but through humility and sacrifice. She takes more than her fair share of abuse from her cold and distant older sister, but never gives up on their relationship. In the end, Anna's undying love pays off and saves both Elsa and the kingdom of Arendelle. She also learns a hard lesson about her idealized vision of romance. Although there is a lot of triumph in Anna's unexpected journey, some may find it difficult to celebrate a heroine who allows herself to be repeatedly mistreated by those that she loves.
Frozen does a less thorough job with Elsa’s character, who spends most of the film in self-imposed captivity. Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of Frozen is the fact that Elsa was taught to be afraid of her special gift. This could have been an extraordinary tale if Elsa had learned to control her powers early on and used them to protect her family and her kingdom from some unanticipated harm. Instead, she is forced to hide from the world, embarrassed and ashamed of her own body. She never questions where her powers came from or wonders if she has some greater calling in this world. It’s truly unfortunate that Disney gave young girls such an intriguing “role model” with phenomenal superpowers, and then turned those powers into a curse for the majority of the film.
Love: 4 Stars (Spoilers)
Frozen puts an unexpected twist on the traditional fairy tale romance by turning Anna's first love, Prince Hans, into a power-hungry villain. The ruse might have scored some points if Anna had come to realize this on her own, but she remains star-struck until the moment he reveals himself to her. The intention seems to be to poke fun at the notion that true love can happen in a single evening, but when all is said and done, Anna falls just as fast for Kristoph as she did for Hans.
Just the same, audiences have expressed their overwhelming approval of the fact that Krisoph's love isn't the magic that eventually melts Anna's heart. And while it is incredibly refreshing to see this tired fairly tale ending finally give way to a richer, more meaningful ending, it also shows us just how low our expectations have become in terms of finding powerful and engaging stories for girls. By itself, the fact that Anna isn't awakened by her true love's kiss isn't enough to make Frozen a Trailblazer. It simply means that it isn't as Retro as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs or Sleeping Beauty.
To be clear, romance is a positive and encouraging addition to most children’s stories - for both boys and girls - as long as it’s done right. The problem isn’t necessarily with princes or princesses, but portraying the foundation of an honest relationship that’s built on something deeper that love at first sight.
Room for Improvement:
Gender Roles – Women
Gender Roles – Men
Self-Esteem and Body Image
Gender Roles - Women: 3 Stars
Anna and Elsa both display their own versions of strength and weakness throughout the film. Anna is initially lonely and naïve, with no real ambitions other than to find true love. She easily believes she's found it after only a few magical hours with Prince Hans. She redeems herself, however, when she tasks Hans to look after Arendelle and sets off is search of her sister, unfazed by the difficult journey.
Elsa, on the other hand, lives most of her life as a terrified recluse, held prisoner by her own body. But she does eventually find some strength in the mountains, where she is finally free to embrace the powers she's been given.
Gender Roles - Men: 2 Stars (Spoilers)
Frozen includes two strong, handsome young men to play the role of Anna’s one true love, Prince Hans and Kristoph. Prince Hans is initially a kind and sheepish young man, but eventually morphs into a ruthless villain intent on seizing control of Arendelle. Thankfully, Kristoph remains the same reliable and commendable sort of person from beginning to end. He spends his days talking with his reindeer, Sven, and singing lonely, self-depricating songs. But despite his lack of lineage and lowly social class, he ends up winning the heart of the young princess Anna.
It's unfortunate that Frozen doesn't spend a bit more time showing us just what it is about Kristoph that makes him special to Anna. They spend more time running from wolves and snow monsters than they do getting to know each other - and never even share a tender moment over the fact that they've both lost their parents. But just the same, Kristoph is a far cry from the rich, over-confident princes of similar fairy tales, and a daring answer to the stock expectations of little girls who still dream of marrying royalty.
Self-Esteem and Body Image: 2 Stars
Frozen contains one memorable scene when Princess Anna wakes up on coronation day, her hair matted and messy as she forces herself awake. But throughout the rest of the film, both Anna and Elsa are predictably coiffed and elegant despite the snow and ice - and in the midst of whatever action sequence is unfolding around them. Anna braves the impenetrable north mountain in a long dress with a simple pink shawl, while Elsa dances in heels across her frozen ice palace. While Anna and Elsa are more empowered than princesses that are merely envied for their stunning beauty, the impractical costumes highlight part of the disconnect in merging fairy tale princesses with would be action heroes.
Frozen is the story of two sisters, Elsa and Anna, whose relationship is ruptured by a closely guarded secret. Elsa has the power to conjure snow and ice with her bare hands, a dangerous power that she’s kept hidden from Anna and the entire kingdom - until her coronation day. When Elsa’s powers are discovered, she disappears into the mountains and covers the entire kingdom in snow and ice. Anna is determined to find her sister and help her learn to control the magic that’s kept them apart for most of their lives.
Kelly is a labor law