Saturday, January 11, 2014

Melting Frozen Hearts

So I finally got to see what Frozen brought to the animation table. I knew the movie had been getting good reviews, but it was still surprising to see a decent turn out in the theatre for an animated movie that's been out for nearly two months. And you know why I think this movie is doing well? It's a modern fairy tale. (I realize that it's based on a Hans Christian Anderson story, but I didn't know that going into the movie.)

Frozen isn't and wasn't marketed as a princess story, so I didn't know exactly what to expect from it. But don't you see the fabric of our modern mindset within all aspects of this movie?

Anna and Elsa are still princesses because we still like the idea of royalty and richness, but their status isn't really referred to much, except so far as their responsibility toward their kingdom (which reminds me of the responsibility of a super hero). Similarly, Kristoff is very much not royalty, so he and Anna falling in love is somewhat of a big deal--but the movie doesn't make it into that much of a big deal (the falling in love, yes, but not the princess falling in love with a commoner). All this shows that we're tired of the same plots: we want this type of story, but we want to view different aspects of it as being normal.

Which brings us to the breaking of the curse, so to speak. It wasn't really a curse, but you know what I'm referring to. Anna's heart is restored not by romantic love but by her love for her sister; that less traveled path is the type of story we like to create these days. We still love watching Snow White, but we want something different from modern stories. While Brave was a good movie, I never felt like it was great; I think that the theme of family is developed more fully in Frozen than it was in Brave. There was something about that theme that felt on the bare bones side in Brave; here, however, it was more solid and simple and powerful. What's interesting, too, is that even the love story between Anna and Kristoff is woven into the theme of family: when the trolls sing about setting them up, they're singing about the love and acceptance that family members share for one other.

Might I dare say that there is even a theme of the destruction of nature or of the apocalypse? Nature versus the machine isn't a new theme anymore, but it's one we still pursue; the way in which Elsa's ice destroys the warmth of the land is reminiscent of this struggle. And surely I'm not the only one who is reminded of stories like The Day After Tomorrow when thinking about the way the ice swallowed up the town and kept making everything colder and colder. More simply, we do always fear that, with the world flowing onward and onward into the future, we will someday lose the warmth in our hearts--unless we remember the simple key of love.

Humor, heart, and good acting (from the voice actors and the animators) made this little modern fairy tale a rather interesting bit to ponder.

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