Most people know the typical Disney princess movie plot line. It goes, “once upon a time, in a far-away land there is a beautiful princess who is waiting helplessly for her prince to swoop in to rescue her from her tragic backstory so they can live happily ever after.” In most of these movies the women princesses are portrayed as needing their man, a prince, to save them from the situation at hand. In these Disney fairytales, the princess always falls short of being the hero and instead, gives off the impression of being weak compared to their potential prince. Disney movies are many children’s first film and these princesses are often a young girl’s first role model. So, there should be an alteration on how these films portray women and their capabilities and Frozen did just that. Disney’s animated film Frozen promoted women empowerment by challenging the plotline of women needing a man to rescue them as the two main characters, who identify as women, saved themselves.
After Queen Elsa freezes the village by accident, she runs away to the forest out of fear and her sister Princess Anna is the one to go after her by horseback. Anna urges the men to stay at the village while she goes on this journey to search for Elsa by herself- as she is confident, can handle herself and believes her sister would never hurt her. This enforces the idea of women’s strength by Anna facing her own battles. On her search, Anna meets a man named Kristoff and they go on to encounter many obstacles upon their journey. As the two are riding on Kristoff’s sled, a pack of wolves begins violently chasing after them. While Kristoff is depicted as struggling to escape them, Anna is pictured lighting barrels on fire as she pushes them off the sled at the wolves. Later in their journey, the two were also seen being chased by a gigantic snow monster. When they tried hooking a rope to safely jump off the cliff to escape the enchanted snow monster, the snow monster instead pulled them up from that very rope. Anna is the one who uses a knife to cut the rope to allow the two to be saved. These are examples of a princess, or more specifically a woman saving a man, which isn’t something Disney does very often in their films, as women are rarely seen as a hero and are mostly portrayed as inferior to men. As Stephanie X. Hu says about Disney films, “Princesses and villainesses alike have shaped toxic stereotypes that cater primarily to male spectatorship,” and, “such stereotypes confine women within the mold of passivity and ultimately, under male control.”
The feminism portrayed in the film Frozen goes even further than just this. During an altercation where Elsa was frightened and unable to control her magical powers, she accidentally struck Anna’s heart. This ultimately froze her heart and she sought out the trolls for help. The trolls advised her that an act of true love will thaw a frozen heart. Here is where you can see Disney go back to its roots as every character in the movie assumes that means it has to be “a true love’s kiss,” by some man. As Anna travels back to the village, she learns her fiancée, Hans, is actually a villain who never loved her. Anna uses her last bit of energy to adventure out onto the frozen lake when she has the realization that she actually loves Kristoff. On her way across the frozen lake, she sees Kristoff and Elsa at the same time. However, Elsa was about to be murdered by Hans, so instead of running to Kristoff and throws herself in front of ex- fiancée’s sword. Anna was ready to sacrifice herself for her sister which saved her life as that was an act of true love. “Here Disney challenges the unseen limits at all” as Marria Qibtia Sikandar Nagra offers. Love doesn’t have to be involved between just a man and woman, whether it is romantically or not and this scene proved it. This scene reinforces that women can be the hero. Disney’s Frozen ultimately enforces women empowerment by depicting women-identifying characters with a set of powerful attributions and actions that we, as an audience, have not yet seen.
3 thoughts on “Not Your Typical Fairytale: Disney’s Frozen”
Love this post! Frozen is a great story between two sisters, and I love how you said that the love story doesn’t have to be with a man. The love showed between Elsa and Anna is so powerful!
I really liked reading this. I feel like most princess movies in Disney depict a female needing a man. It was really cool watching this movie and seeing how independent they made the women. It is a great example for young girls who love the movie!
I loved this blog! I never thought of frozen this way!