Frozen Is A B-r-r-r-fect


We dropped in on the new Disney movie “Frozen” on the way home from work, where I had been “beatup” spiritually by some demanding and decidedly un-charming patients — some of whom would have been more appropriately treated by a stint in the local state “correctional” institution.

My omniscient husband seemed to know that this movie, of which I knew basically nothing before dropping in, was exactly what I needed, and more.

It is a work of art, a piece of magic wonderment.  Not just artistically, but on every imaginable level.  I mean Disney — especially since annexing Pixar — is not only on top of everyone else, but keeps topping itself in what I would have considered impossible ways.

Start with the seemingly obvious in these days of computer-driven animation.  Flashback to a precocious pain-in-the-neck child like me, fighting with her mother to get a snowflake under the toy microscope.  She absolutely would not let me go out in the snow for this.  Despite the Boston snow which, once the path by the house had been cleared, shoveled into a wall well above the head of the child I was then (could not have been over five) I had to beg and take Hebrew sacred oaths to be good forever in order to convince my mother to get me a little snow from outside (I told her she would not miss it!) and managed to shove it under the seemingly omnipotent 100x magnification before it became a tiny puddle.

The flakes were so regular it was hard to believe they were natural.  So blue (my undisputed favorite color then) and sparkling, I could not believe, and sat open-mouthed and silent, transfixed by the view.

The next time I had that feeling was watching “Frozen.”  From the pattern before the opening credits to action in an ice-cathedral that rivaled the one I had frequented in Amiens, France where I spent a lot of time,  The sheer visual wonderment does not cease.

The music is Broadway mainstream-melodic, perfectly sung, perfectly matched to what is going on when you look at the screen.  And I did not take my eyes from the screen, even though I realized I was rocking or tapping my body in rhythm, something I would normally do only at the best of jazz concerts.

As for the characters and source material, they are adapted from the original Hans Christian Andersen Snow Queen stories.

Liberally adapted.  The Disney movie is pretty far from this.  The “Inspired by” tag in the credits is accurate.  The story here is as fresh and new as the internet page you are reading right now.

Moreover, it is pretty clear why Disney may have had trouble with authors who were actually still alive when he “adapted” their work, such as P.L. Travers in another recent Disney film — the also wonderful (but in a totally different way) Saving Mr. Banks.”

Both of these Disney films were nominated for several “Oscars” this year – and deservedly so.

As for the story and characters in “Frozen” — well, here is where I may actually be thinking a bit like a psychiatrist, regressing to “type.”  We shrinks tend to focus on the “metamessage.”  Impressionable young humans sometimes actually still see movies on large darkened screens with people who may emit nonverbal signs of emotional response.

SPOILER ALERT: If you have not seen this film yet and want to preserve the emotional delight of what may turn out to be the first of several viewings, avoid the rest of this review until first viewing.  You have been warned.

I will admit to feeling nausea when Princess Anna falls for Hans the Prince on first meeting.  This is simplistic even for a fairy tale or Disney movie.  Her (seemingly villainous) older sister (Princess Elsa) tells Princess Anna this is not how you do things.  Oh, the serious moral uncertitude while alleged adults (like me) who were brought up on simple, traditional fairy tales wonder how this thing is going to play out.

When Prince Hans meets Princess Anna he saves her from falling into the water, among other things.  By the end she realizes he is a liar who wants to marry her for her (?wealth and?) title and at the end, she physically decks him and he falls into the water.

No, we are not teaching our daughters to model on violence.  Anybody but the most grossly psychotic knows this is a fairy tale of some sort, and in the fairy tale world you melt witches and such, so this is mild for fairy tale reality, but great for a woman wronged.

Princess Elsa has this horrible power to freeze all that she touches and it runs wildly out of control when she is emotionally upset.  In fact, her uncontrolled powers have caused a world-wide ice-age that will end all life on the planet unless she learns to “control” it.

The happy ending reveals that she finally does so — with love.  The exact way that plays out is the terrific twist of the movie – and THAT part, I won’t spoil for you.  I’m just happy that “Love” was the answer – the magic solution to all the world’s problems.

While she hides away alone in her ice palace, having created her own loneliness in a desire to protect others from the tragedy she can cause, she seems out of control and ices everything and everyone in sight. This includes her beloved sister – who means more to her than the whole world.

Is this a perfect metaphor for a Freudian analytic explanation of an “ice maiden” or what?  Disney and the fairy tale creators must have been reading some books in their spare time.

But wait, there’s more.  Princess Anna goes with a commoner – a mountain man named Kristoff who has a cute reindeer sidekick that will be the “Happy Meal” toy for the studio merchandise department — to rescue Princess Elsa – and the rest of the world — from her own coldness.

The princess and the mountain man have some good romantic-comedy banter on their adventure (think “Moonlighting”) and one might wonder if he is going to become the real love interest.  Those loveable trolls (who masquerade as rocks) sure think so, and I felt a little nausea rising.  But no, Kristoff is just an honest, decent guy trying to help out.

So at the end Princess Anna rewards him with a new sled and a great job as the official purveyor of ice to the entire kingdom, which is something so straightforward and right for royalty that the Queen of England does it all the time. The sign of a royal purveyor is on plenty of signs and now even some websites for British business folk.

They call it a royal warrant of appointment.

But the best of all is really the deciding plot moment, when evil, conniving Prince Hans (you thought was the true-love) has lied to the townspeople that Princess Anna is already dead and decides that Princess Elsa must be killed — and he’s just bad enough to do it.

But still barely alive (her heart has been accidentally frozen by her sister and she is turning to ice), Princess Anna throws herself in front of Hans’ sword to save her sister’s life. And this — yes THIS — is the act of True Love that saves her own heart from freezing. (We thought it would be a kiss from Prince Hans, and then failing that, from Kristoff.)  What an original twist ending – and how very satisfying.

Sibling love – Wow — for her older sis Princess Elsa, who has shut her out for so many years fearing she would harm the little sister with her uncontrolled powers.  Little Anna was terribly hurt by the rejection – yet she sacrifices herself to keep the evil Prince from murdering her sister. This is the ultimate act of love.

Pardon me while I pause to dry my eyes.  Even recounting this after the fact brings the tears.  It is one of the most beautiful dénouements I have experienced.

If I have ever seen a movie scene that stood the slightest chance of diminishing family in-fighting at the sibling level this is it.

Of course, the most humongous metaphor of all is the Freudian one – again– for this (more obviously sexy than any previous Disney princess) ice-maiden has learned to control her power with love.

Women have a seductive power over men that is frequently presented in an evil context.  We finally have the diametric opposite of the evil Disney Queen of “Mirror, mirror on the wall…” infamy.  “Frozen” gives us the Queen who can say, “I can control this thing with love.”

And the beautiful ending shows that she can also use her powers to create just enough cold to grant the lovable little snowman (another merchandising coup) immortality through a hot summer.  This is positive use of magical powers at its best.

She can say at the end of the movie “We will keep the doors always open.”  This is the motto of the healthy human being (and most particularly, the healthy human woman), who can remain open to and interacting with human society, knowing confidently that his or her) powers are in control.

“Frozen.”  See it.

Enshrine it in your heart … and brain.

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