Making the Grades
Anyone who lives where snow really falls knows Hollywood has a romantic notion of winter in the movie Frozen. It’s ridiculous to watch a young girl traipse up a mountainside in conditions that would have left her frostbitten, or worse, long before she reached her destination.
However that’s not the only misleading thing in this animated flick. A little snowman named Olaf (voice by Josh Gad) may have gotten most of the attention in the movie’s trailers but he is only a secondary character in this story. The title roles go to Anna (voice of Kristen Bell) and Elsa (voice of Idina Menzel), two sisters that will appear on store shelves in toy form just in time for the Christmas shopping season.
Frozen loosely retells the story of The Snow Queen, the fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen. As a child Elsa discovers she can create snow and ice with a flick of her wrist. Her younger sister Anna often begs Elsa to whip up a winter wonderland inside the family’s castle. However as Elsa grows older, she struggles to control her power. After a mishap injures Anna, the girls’ parents shut Elsa away while she tries to master her unusual abilities. Yet when the Mom and Dad are killed (creating the classic Disney orphan storyline), Elsa is forced to come out of her room for her coronation as the new Queen of Arendelle.
Following the ceremony, Elsa must mingle among the people while trying hard to keep her icy hands under wraps. Unfortunately when Anna announces her engagement to a man she’s just meet, Elsa reacts with a frosty response. Escaping into the mountains, she leaves a trail of ice and snow behind her. And before long the entire kingdom falls under the curse of winter. But Anna wants to bring her newly crowned sister back, so she sets off to find her with the help of an ice seller named Kristoff (voice by Jonathan Groff) and his reindeer.
While there’s both a prince (voice by Santino Fontana) and a handsome woodsman in this story, don’t count on these guys to save the day. Frozen, like Tangled, Brave and The Princess and the Frog, is aimed at a generation who is more interested in girl power than in stories featuring charming gentlemen. Still this story has a positive sibling twist at the end.
The script, like most princess movies, is relatively free of content concerns. Still, there are moments of peril. A pack of hungry wolves attack some travelers. A couple of thugs with crossbows also try to kill Elsa in hopes of breaking the wintery curse. And there are some terrifying moments with an abominable snow monster that resembles something more like a Transformer than the lovable Frosty the Snowman.
Although Frozen might warm the hearts of older girls, parents of little princess wannabes may choose to chill out a while before introducing this new Disney royal.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Frozen.
How does Elsa’s wardrobe change when she decides to free her powers? How do moviemakers use clothing, hairstyles, etc, to depict the emotional changes of a character?
During one song, Kristoff is referred to as a “fixer upper”. Does this film promote a battle of the sexes? Should men be put down in this manner? Does this message do anything to portray the importance of both genders?
Disney movies often use the orphan scenario. (See Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella, Bambi.) Why is this so scary for children? What positive family relationships are portrayed in this animation?