by Amy Frantz, Brave Writer alum
In the Kingdom of Arendelle, a coronation is being held. The Princess Elsa has come of age and is to be crowned queen, and the gates to the palace are to be opened for the first time in years. The two princesses, Elsa and Anna, have lived in isolation for years and no one knows why. Anna herself does not understand why her sister suddenly withdrew from her and shut herself away as a child. In her over-excitement for contact with the outside world, Anna almost literally runs into Prince Hans, a dashing young man who seems to have stepped out of her fantasies to sweep her off her feet.
After the coronation, when Anna asks Elsa to bless her sudden intention to marry Hans, an argument ensues between the sisters and the truth about Elsa is revealed. She has the power to make cold and ice and snow, but she lacks control over it and she accidentally lashes out. In reaction to the people’s shock and horror, Elsa flees and leaves Arendelle in a perpetual winter. It’s up to Anna, with the friends she meets along the way, to find her sister, repair the damage to their relationship, and bring summer back to the land.
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Disney’s Frozen is loosely inspired by the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale, The Snow Queen. The idea of turning the Snow Queen into an animated picture had been around since the 1930s but kept getting scrapped for various reasons.
In 2013, Frozen was finally released and quickly caught on with young people, inspiring many kids to watch and rewatch the film over and over. The lead song, “Let It Go,” became a cultural phenomenon, spurring endless covers online. The film’s themes of the redemptive power of familial love and the importance of taking the time to form meaningful bonds with others, aided by catchy pop tunes and a strong visual aesthetic sense, clearly struck a strong chord in young audiences.
That strong aesthetic sense has roots in our real world. Nærøyfjord in Norway served as an inspiration for Arendelle, along with Scandinavian and Sámi culture, clothing, and architecture. As with most things that Disney films pull inspiration from, liberties are taken with these sources, which has drawn some controversy and much discussion on the internet.
Some viewers have drawn parallels between the character of Elsa and mental illness, pointing out that she demonstrates signs of anxiety and depression through her social isolation and struggle to control her powers. Frozen can represent an important opportunity to talk to kids to about mental health in an age appropriate context.
So, cuddle up under some thick blankets and travel to the frosty magical world of Frozen!
- The central relationship in Frozen is between Elsa and her sister Anna. Despite the importance of this relationship, the sisters don’t actually spend much time on screen together. How do you think this impacts the story and the portrayal of their relationship?
- Do you think Elsa’s parents reacted appropriately to her powers by isolating her or did this contribute to her inability to control her powers? Explain your answer.
- Throughout the film, various characters show concern regarding Anna’s decision to marry someone she has only just met, pointing out that she doesn’t really know Hans. And indeed, Hans is eventually revealed to be a villainous character who is only out for his own personal gain, seeking to exploit the two sisters in order to seize power for himself. What might the film be trying to say about the “insta-love” tropes used so often in older Disney films?
- If you could either have Olaf, the heat-loving snowman, or Sven, the carrot-addicted reindeer, as your companion, which would you choose and what would you do if you spent a day together?
Let It Go – Behind the Mic Multi-Language Version (25 languages are featured in this video!)
Cover of Let It Go fused with Vivaldi’s Winter by the Piano Guys on YouTube