Bravery Growth Vulnerability Trust Love
If you haven’t heard of Frozen, then you have certainly been living under a rock these last six years. Frozen broke the mould for children’s movies and surpassed everyone’s expectations. Although the movie was about love, it was about a different kind of love, a love vastly different to other female centred Disney films. Frozen was able to prove there is an appetite for different stories, with different ‘Happy Ever After’ endings.
As a mother of young children, I am very aware of Frozen. Both of my children (and I) have danced to every song, dressed up as the characters, held special Frozen birthday parties and watched the film at least 1,000 times. We have championed this, although occasionally people have found it surprising that my son was as obsessed with a ‘girls’ film as our daughter, although as it wasn’t overtly feminine, had strong male characters and a great story arc, it was generally accepted. There is still a presumption amongst some adults and children we know that because the two main characters are girls, then it ‘must’ be a girl’s film. We have never told our children they are girls’ movies and as a result, there is no gender bias attached to either of the films.
When the production of Frozen 2 was first announced, I openly wondered how they could top the first film. We have all seen examples of sequels unable to reach the peaks of their predecessor and I was concerned if Frozen 2 couldn’t live up to the standard set, it could taint the story in my children’s minds. My worries were diffused when we watched Frozen 2 for the first time….I will point out we have already seen it twice and will no doubt add a couple of zeroes to that number over the next few years.
A story for both young and older audiences.
Frozen 2 was truly wonderful, it captivated all of us. My children and I were seeing the same film but walked away with a very different experience. What the writers have been able to achieve in the second film was to weave different themes through the film and appeal to multiple audiences.
It is a more mature story, with the characters having depth not seen in the first film and I would suggest that was written in part for the adult film watchers. This film also included more adult jokes & references, which for a parent who is going to see this movie at least 100 times, is much appreciated.
Fear of the Unknown is a key theme throughout the film.
Fear can be seen in most of the characters storylines with Elsa afraid of venturing into another ‘adventure’, Olaf discussing change & getting older in his own light-hearted way and Kristoff worried about Anna’s proposal response.
However, the most significant example of this fear of what is unknown and different is the girls’ grandfather and his contact with the Northuldra people. It was because of his fear and deception, that Elsa, Anna & co had to follow the path set out in the movie.
In a positive sign for inclusion and cultural progress, Disney consulted and entered into a contract with the Sámi people, the indigenous people of the Scandinavian region to ensure their portrayal was respectful & culturally accurate.
Disney have been able to portray a complex issue, with examples of indigenous marginalisation unfortunately littered throughout our history, and tell it in a way that is easily digestible for very young audiences. It’s a delicate, highly emotive subject but one that is very important for them to see & hear.
In our house, as I’m sure in others, Disney & its movies is held in high regard. It is refreshing to see they are showing more diverse characters on screen and taking representation seriously. This storyline also provided an opportunity for us to discuss the topic with our children and the importance of diversity, inclusion, respect of others and that different is not something to fear, it is how we learn and grow as individuals & societies.
Yes there were tears……..and a whole range of emotions experienced.
I also need to admit that I cried in this film…twice…my kids thought it was hilarious. Those who know me well wouldn’t be surprised though as I cry when watching the news, TV commercials, hell I even cry when Ellen does her 12 days of Christmas (She does it every year…and yet I still ball my eyes out every time!. It surprised me that I cried in this film though, namely because it is animated, not real people.
Not only are the characters fictional, but this is a cartoon. Somehow though the team behind the film were able to convey real-life emotion and experiences that draw in the viewer. Moments like when Elsa discovers her true self (spoiler alert) or when Anna needs to get back up after Olaf disappears, we can put ourselves in their shoes and relate it to similar moments in our own lives.
Elsa, in particular, showed a range of emotions throughout the film. There were moments of Elsa we knew with her nervousness, vulnerability and then elation when she discovered her truth. She questioned her abilities, her path in life and it was refreshing to see a strong character showing vulnerability when she faced adversit. Both Elsa and Anna are examples I use when demonstrating resilience and strength to my children.
Oh the songs…..
I have been a fan of musicals for a long time. They capture your attention and leave a positive emotional imprint. There are songs from big movies of my childhood whose words I still know. Every time I hear these songs I cannot stop singing along and it brightens my day. I’ve noticed in recent years children’s films have had less of a focus on lyrical music and I am pleased to see this trend has started to change.
The music in Frozen 2 is moving, haunting and enchanting. The soundtrack is at the very core of this film, as it was for the first. I believe this film would not be as successful and connect with the audience as it has without the songs.
I’ve had the pleasure of knowing every word to Let it Go, Open Door and In Summer for a number of years. I can now add Into the Unknown, Some things never change and When I am older to my Frozen repertoire as the album has been on repeat since we watched the film. The musical geniuses behind the Frozen soundtracks sure know how to produce catchy tunes, so catchy in fact that my wonderful friends, who haven’t even seen the film, are also humming the tune! We even heard grown men singing Into the Unknown on New Years Eve’s in the middle of Australian Bush, it ended up turning into a cross camp sing-off. Music really does bring people together!
One song that stood out for me was Kristoff’s nod to late 80’s rock ballads, Lost in the Woods. As a child of the 80’s it was a wonderful opportunity for me to reminisce. It reminded me of the old video clips I used to watch growing up, particularly Bon Jovi’s Always, what a classic song and an even better video!
Routine & consistency underpinned the story
The film followed a similar formula to the first movie which is perfect for a kid’s film, as routine & consistency is beneficial for children. These included the first scene with young Anna and Elsa conversing with their parents, Anna headlining a positive song at the beginning of the film, Olaf with the great one-liners and singing the humorous songs, Elsa had the big song which now fills my head and the second act provided the meat. Music was also used to link the two films, with similar background music used throughout the second film. There was of course also a happy ending, which is essential in a kids’ film.
A love story, told in a different way
We are all used to the story where the guy gets the girl at the end of the film. Well, this film certainly had it but it was Kristoff’s story that centred on relationship woes, not one of the female characters. Anna did show a bit of romantic irrationality, but it appeared to be included more to support Kristoff’s story, and comic relief, instead of as a main part of Anna’s character. It is a refreshing change to see a male character in a cartoon show such vulnerability.
There was a second, albeit more subtle love story seeded throughout the film and that was the love of friends and the family you choose. Their chosen family is not conventional, it has a snowman, a reindeer, two sisters and a male partner. There is a subtle message here in that your family doesn’t have to fit a particular mould and you support each other when it counts. Ultimately love is love.
Frozen 2 was enjoyed by my whole family. It is full of love, laughter and catchy-songs which makes for an entertaining experience, but with a very important message: Find out who you are & your purpose.
Even if you don’t have children, take the opportunity to watch this film.
Frozen 2 is currently playing in cinemas in Australia and no doubt across the globe. I am sure it will be released on Disney+ before the end of this year as well.
The key players
Directors – Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee
Producers – Peter Del Vecho & Byron Howard