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Why Disney’s Frozen Is More Than Just Another Animation

The real, unadvertised, un-cool story is one all parents want their children to see and understand.

Rhonda Robinson


January 24, 2014 - 8:00 am

Once upon a time Disney captured my heart. As an artistic little girl, Disney stirred my creative spirit. Sadly, Disney didn’t do that for my children. Then along came Pixar, and picked up the torch–now it’s time to give it back.

Disney has reclaimed my heart with their newest animation Frozen. It’s well on its way into the hearts of an entire generation.

Simply put, Frozen got it right.

Not because it’s nominated for 2 Oscars. In fact, its already scored 18 wins with a running total of 32 nominations. Honestly, that’s nice and I’m thrilled for the creatives behind it. They deserve the recognition. But for us parents, that really doesn’t matter in the least.

Frozen won a place in my family’s Hall of Fame because it does what fairy tales are supposed to do. It reveals real life truths to children through the safety and beauty of a well-crafted story. In Frozen, Disney goes one better by telling it in brilliant animation laced with innocent humor and perfect timing.

Here’s what Rotten Tomatoes will tell you about the film:

Featuring the voices of Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel, “Frozen” is the coolest comedy-adventure ever to hit the big screen. When a prophecy traps a kingdom in eternal winter, Anna, a fearless optimist, teams up with extreme mountain man Kristoff and his sidekick reindeer Sven on an epic journey to find Anna’s sister Elsa, the Snow Queen, and put an end to her icy spell. Encountering mystical trolls, a funny snowman named Olaf, Everest-like extremes and magic at every turn, Anna and Kristoff battle the elements in a race to save the kingdom from destruction. (c) Disney

Personally, had I read that summary, I most likely wouldn’t have given the film a chance. That description is not the story I saw. While that might be the official summary it looks like it was crafted by someone that only watched movie trailers.

Here’s what I saw.

Screen Shot 2014-01-21 at 10.54.21 AM

Unlike the most Disney fairy tales, Frozen is a story of what true love actually is. It also interweaves and contrasts it with what most foolish young girls think it is, and what many well-meaning adults believe it to be.

Some of the best lines in the film come from Olaf, the snowman. For example, as he casually explains love sitting by the fire warming his childhood friend,

“Some people are worth melting for.”

The creators take the message of the story a bit deeper than the real meaning of love. Thankfully they also go far beyond the age old, princess finding her prince meme, and bring more reality to the storyline than just stopping the Snow Queen’s “icy spell.”

The real story is about a little girl afraid of her own power to create. She learns early that her natural born ability is a two-edged sword. It can do wonderful things, but it can also destroy everything she loves. In spite of a warning that fear is her greatest enemy, the emotion takes over her life and family. Her parents resolve to hide her gifts from the world around her.

This kind of protection only hurts the very people it seeks to help. What follows are the natural consequences that occur when we lock ourselves away and deny who we are. When a child tries to conform to what others want her to be ultimately it disfigures and isolates her from those she loves.

Conforming to how others perceive us also creates a storm raging inside. I have to wonder how many children, or even adults would identify with Elsa’s song,

“Don’t let them in, don’t let them see. Be the good girl you always have to be. Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know…”

The story has a few delightful twists. I’ll only share one with you. Just between us parents–the real love story here is not between a prince and his princess, it’s a love between siblings.

When choosing a film to take impressionable children, parents need to think about the underlying message. All films have one.

Consider that these characters come into our children’s lives. They will live in their bedrooms. They become their playmates in the corners of their minds. Their songs become the soundtracks of childhood.

In my house, “Do you want to build a snowman?” Is the new code between my daughter and me, for “let’s go create something wonderful together.”

Rhonda Robinson writes on the social, political and parenting issues currently shaping the American family. She lives with her husband and teenage daughter in Middle Tennessee. Follow on twitter @amotherslife

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All Comments   (5)
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I loved this movie especially for the sister relationship. My two girls are best little friends and it was wonderful for them to see this expression of sibling love. They adored it. I also loved the line about "You can't marry someone you just met!!" We laughed and laughed at that. Bravo Disney! Thank you for finally giving us good messaging for our daughters. The evil prince is a fantastic plot twist I didn't see coming and was THRILLED with. It's good to be wary of puffed up princes, girls...remember that! I do have to say though that Tangled is still high on my list of recent Disney films. The music is great (much like Frozen) and the comedy is laugh out loud funny. I also felt like it was the first Disney movie to ever develop an actual relationship between two main characters more than "love at first sight"...Rapunzel and Flynn were more like annoyed at first sight and grew to care about one another (unbelievably in about two days...but still...they at least gave Flynn a real character instead of a blank Prince who just proposes for no reason.) The one thing that bothered me about Frozen was Anna trekking through a blizzard in short sleeves and no pants. And then when she does find warmer clothes it's a short cloak with no buttons in the front and she still has bare arms???? As a mother, it was all I could focus on and every time she fell down in the snow all i could think of was cold snow up the skirt. Ouch.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Tangled is also one of my favorites. I didn't care too much for the deception of the mother. But you're right, at least they got to "know" each other a bit rather than just love at first sight. I loved the humor in it. But nonetheless-- Frozen has taken the lead in my book.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
To their credit, what Disney did with this was bring in (back!) some real Broadway-style songwriters (husband and wife team of Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez) who actually tell a compelling, sing-able *story*, rather than gin up a pop-culture-nodding POS -- complete with potty humor and adult jokes -- like the latest from the competition. Good for them. My daughters absolutely adore 'Frozen' -- and completely "get" the messages and the sibling love story.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
My teenaged daughter, although she has a love for animation, connects with this message as well, and loves the music.

I'm not a musical kind-of-gal, but if your correct, that explains why the song moves the story in such a compelling way.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I agree wholeheartedly with this. Frozen is an amazing film and I love it as much as I do the best of the Disney Renaissance.

It did my heart well the other day when I went into the Disney store. There was a little girl dressed as Elsa, and when the store started up "Let It Go" (the Idina Menzel version, even!), the little girl started to dance and sing what she knew of the song. The entire store watched her until the end.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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