I might not be a member of the intended audience for Disney’s newest animated film “Frozen.” That honor goes to kids everywhere — and as one latter-day WEEKEND cover informed me, my childhood is over. As a Disney lover who still thinks of herself as a princess (definitely Mulan), I knew I had to see the film. So I borrowed my neighbor’s children — two rambunctious boys aged seven and nine — who had already seen the movie. On the drive to the theater, I listened to their unabashed, innocent if not obnoxious, chatter about the film’s songs, characters and animation. Their youth was my ticket in.
The film is the story of two sisters. Princess Elsa, the elder, possesses magical powers that allow her to create ice and snow. After she inadvertently injures her fun-loving younger sister, Princess Anna, Elsa must learn to repress her powers, while Anna is made to forget them. Within the castle gates, the two sisters are isolated from one another. Elsa lives in fear of hurting her sister again, and Anna grows up lamenting the distance between them.
The song “Do You Want to Build a Snowman” arrives at precisely this crucial moment, as it expresses Anna’s attempts to connect with Elsa, who is hiding in her room. While I cry during nearly every movie I see, this song had me shedding a tear within the film’s first five minutes — something that hasn’t happened to me since “Up.”
Another highlight of the film is the song “Let it Go,” sang by Idina Menzel (the Demi Lovato cover is also recommended). This comes at a moment where Elsa has realized that she can no longer hide from the world, and so she allows her powers to be free. Menzel is generally a goddess among mortals, and she proves it once again with this performance. But the actual stars of the scene are the animation and the song’s message. The animation, in which lies the film’s real magic, is stunning as Elsa grows a castle out of ice before shaking her hair out and fashioning a sexy dress. The message, too, is powerful. Elsa laments her past repression — “conceal it, don’t feel it” — but finally learns to let it go and accept who she is. At the risk of being too political, I venture to say that this championing of self-acceptance and ending repression falls in line with Disney’s historical support of the gay rights movement.
The depiction of sisterly love in “Frozen” made me think of my own sister. More specifically, of which sibling each of us would be. A 24-year-old living in Germany, Lauren has already seen the film. We would both like to think of ourselves as the fun-loving, untroubled and spunky younger sister with hip highlights, but that can only be me. Lauren finally relented and let me take ownership of the character after I pointed out that she’s “like, older,” and also bad at talking about her feelings — so maybe she’s repressed like Elsa. And maybe it is true that I am guilty of the alternative, “over-sharing,” as she put it.
While I’m a college student, that doesn’t necessarily mean that I am too smart or too old or too worldly to enjoy and learn from a film like “Frozen.” Beyond merely delighting me, the film was clever, promoted a message of acceptance and took me on an emotional journey. I probably got more out of the film now than I would have at age 7: I learned that when you “let it go,” you become much, much sexier.