This review of Frozen by one Brian Brown is one of the best articles on the topic of children’s movie themes in general I’ve ever read.
Brown talks about people’s obsession over superficial things like magic (even G. K. Chesterton addressed Christians who censored superficial stuff) and yet disregarded the more substantive themes of Disney movies, like the New Agey “follow your heart,” “believe in yourself” nonsense, which Frozen completely undermines. Says Brown:
The cumulative effect is a story with moral complexity and truth that destroys anything Disney has ever done, but is very much in the Pixar tradition (if, even there, above average). There are people out there (though they don’t seem to be writing reviews) who let the film speak for itself outside of the context of an anti-Disney bias—and I suspect they saw something like what I saw: a film that made them think, for 100 glorious minutes, that maybe great fairy tales aren’t dead.
So often people get worried about the epiphenomena and not the underlying subtext. As kids go, it can of course work both ways. Sometimes, adults wrongly assume that subtext goes above kids’ heads, and sometimes wrongly expect them to see it: it all depends upon the kid and the material in question, which is why our basic rule is usually that anything new has to be watched with us or by us first. In this case, we made a huge exception to that rule. I had seen enough positive reviews of Frozen that I felt it was OK to let my kids go to it with their uncles and aunt after Christmas.
When they became addicted to “Let it Go,” I read the lyrics and began to worry. However, they all, from 6 to 12, did a fantastic job of articulating why the song was not talking about morality per se and was, in the context, about superficial rules.
Indeed, since the movie does not explain where Elsa’s powers come from–the Troll King asks and her father says she was born with them–it could be seen as an allegory for genetic disorders. As it is, I kept thinking of “corporate synergy” not in terms of Disney-Pixar but Disney-Marvel. Elsa could be seen as almost a cognate to Loki, a Jotun raised in Asgard or Rogue, the “X-Men” mutant who kills people (and in some cases, steals their superpowers) if she touches them. Barring fictional superpowers, the rift between Elsa and Anna, caused by Elsa’s “genetic disorder,” if you will, being a risk to Anna, could be easily inverted. Take, for example, someone with ostogenesis imperfecta or hemophilia being raised in a totally protected environment and cut off from others for her or his own protection. Or consider someone with a mental or neurological disorder who can’t control his rage or who has violent seizures.
This, by the way, gets to the problem with some who have tried to see the movie as having “homosexual subtext” because of its rejection of the sheltered princess falls in love with the first guy she sees” archetype, Elsa’s enforced celibacy and the behavior of the living snowmen in the movie. The homosexualist movement has pushed the notion that gays have a monopoly on “being oppressed” to such an extent that anyone depicted as “different” in Hollywood “must” be “gay.” This is true on both sides. Christians only play into their argument when they assume that a genderless snow monster named “Marshmallow” is “gay” because of a credits-shot showing it dancing in a tiara–or, in real life, when they freak out about a boy having a My Little Pony lunchbox.
Apparently, Walt Disney himself began trying to develop Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen” in the 1940s. One of the big issues was how to approach the title character, who is arguably either morally neutral (literally a force of nature) or evil in Andersen’s story (usually even in most adaptations I’ve seen). What made _Frozen_ was the notion of taking out Andersen’s boy character Kai and making his story elements part of Elsa and Anna.
If, as in the works of Whedon, Rice, Carpenter, and others who use vampirism and witchcraft as symbols of homosexuality, or as in previous Disney movies like _Pocahontas_ and _The Hunchback of Notre Dame_, the “bad guys” in the movie were ostensibly Christian, I could maybe see the argument, but here, all the superficial signs are that the characters are themselves Christian:
1. Unlike “Aurora,” “Belle,” “Ariel,” “Prince Charming,” etc., the characters have saints’ names: Elsa (Elizabeth), Anna, Kristoff, Hans (short for “Johann”), Sven (Stephen), and even the snowman Olaf (Patron Saint of Norway, probably most commonly known today because of The Golden Girls).
2. Early in the film, when we’re seeing the girls grow up on separate sides of the castle, Elsa refers to her only friends being the paintings, and she says, to a painting of St. Joan of Arc, “Hang in there, Joan.”
3. Many have commented on the choral music in the film, which is based upon a Norwegian hymn:
Sweet is the earth,
glorious is God’s heaven,
Beautiful is the souls’ pilgrim song!
Through the fair
kingdoms of Earth
We go to paradise with song.