There was a time when Disney had mastered the art of the princess story–a princess becomes too self-absorbed, needs to be taught a lesson, and is exiled/put to sleep/had a spell cast on her, and needs true love’s kiss–or an act of true love–to see the error in her ways and have everything put to right.
Disney has missed that theme somewhat lately, but seems to have gotten it right in the movie Frozen.
SPOILER ALERT! Based loosely on The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen, this movie is about two sisters: the energetic, spunky, younger Anna; and her older sister Elsa. Elsa has the power to create ice, and one night while playing with her sister, she accidentally hits Anna in the head with a cold beam from her hand. The king and queen take their daughters to the trolls who are able to heal Anna, but they remove all memories of Elsa’s power from Anna’s memory. Meanwhile, the king and queen decide to keep Elsa away from her sister to avoid any problems like this in the future.
Of course, the king and queen die in a ship wreck, and Elsa continues her exile in the castle and Anna doesn’t know why.
Then, years later, coronation day comes for Elsa to be crowned as queen, and the castle is opened to the public and to Arendelle’s neighbors for the first time in years. Anna meets a visiting prince, instantly falls in love with him, and after he proposes to her during the dancing after the coronation, Anna tells Elsa, who becomes angry, and ends up letting all of the guests in attendance see her power by unleashing winter on the country. She is aghast, but decides that since everyone knows about her powers now, she can leave the castle and live her life in solitude high up in a mountain.
Anna decides to chase Elsa, leaving the prince in command while she’s gone. On the way, Anna meets ice harvester Kristoff, his reindeer, Sven, and a living snowman, Olaf, who Elsa inadvertently created, who help her find her sister. Once they find her, Anna is struck again by a beam by her sister, but this time in her heart, which we learned back with the first such experience was harder to fix, and could only be healed by an “act of true love.”
Kristoff rushes Anna off of the mountain back to the castle to be kissed by the prince. But the prince captures Elsa and returns her to the castle. When Anna is returned to the castle, the prince reveals his plan to take control over the country since he’s 12th in line in his own country, and he tries to kill her by locking her in a cold room and not trying to warm her up. Meanwhile, Elsa escapes the castle prison and unleashes a storm just as Kristoff decides he is in love with Anna and needs to return to her to tell her.
Olaf saves Anna from the locked room in the castle, and realizes that the act of true love would be a kiss from Kristoff, but when they all converge on the frozen fjord, the prince also comes to kill the sisters so he can take over the country. But the sisters save each other and everyone lives happily ever after after their act of true love.
First off, it was so refreshing to see an act of true love that wasn’t a kiss or anything else that is classically fairy tale-like. It was a surprising and really satisfying ending to the story. The rest of it is pretty straight forward, though again refreshing in that both lead characters were female.
Disney’s getting much better at their CGI films, perhaps borrowing something from their sister company Pixar. The art itself is stylized yet realistic, and, more importantly, the story and scripting is really pretty good.
But hey, it’s a Disney film. It takes a lot for a Disney film to really suck. It’s a lot better than Wreck-It Ralph, their last movie, even though it just helps reinforce the fact that standard animation in their movies is probably dead. So, Four out of Five Stars.
See you tomorrow.