Why Everyone is Wrong About Frozen. Part One: The Movie No One Ever Sees

Oooh-la-la! France gets a much better poster, but the title is lost in translation!

“An argument that presumes to question the unquestioned and to wander some distance from the steady paths of received truthcannot reasonably hope to be popular.” — Henry Knight Miller, Preface to Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones and the Romantic Tradition.

Almost six years now after Frozen debuted, and, amazingly, most of the world has yet to realize the movie they fell in love with has, in fact, never existed.

It sounds like the premise for one of the ficciones of magic realist Jorge Luis Borges, but it is demonstrably true. The movie many critics, academics, fans, detractors and now Disney itself describe as first lighting up screens in November 2013 isn’t real.

Snowy Reception? Nope, it’s Frozen….the Phantom Movie! Spooky!

At least, the movie all of the above describe isn’t the movie the studio made. Or myself, and a comparatively few other people, are watching a different movie called Frozen also released by Walt Disney on the same day of November 2013 in which every frame is exactly the same (how Borges!)

The Frozen most people “know” is a movie that exists only in their minds.

OLAF?

Comments focus on its perceived attempt to social engineer the thinking of little girls about all that is wrong in our classic fairy tales (and the classic Disney princess movies!) about the natures and roles of men and women.

“I don’t want my little girl thinking she needs a man!” one of my former students, a young woman, told me. On the character of Princess Anna’s love interest Kristoff, she adamantly insisted, “He didn’t do anything (to save the damsels).”

Taking up for the fellas, and Western culture in general, Dr. Jordan Peterson said of Frozen, “How sexist can you get? She doesn’t need a prince to rescue her. That’s why Disney made Frozen, that absolutely appalling piece of rubbish.”

Or, to paraphrase an internet post from a much less eloquent articulator than Dr. Peterson, Frozen teaches us that “all bros are evil.”

So here we have the argument from both sides and there is nothing in Frozen that supports either “men are useless” or “all men are evil” or “a woman doesn’t need a man.”

A typical trendy review of Frozen will exult in its “girl power” reversal of the princesses saving themselves. From this follows the “I don’t need a man” “moral” of the story many read into it.

Anna Would Seem to be Rethinking That Whole “Sisters Before Misters” Thing….An Example of the Frozen Fan Art And Internet Activity a Movie That Is Supposed to Teach Girls That Men Are Negligible Has Somehow Managed to Inspire. Go Figure (Get It?)

To be sure, the sisters Anna and Elsa are for whom we are meant to root. And the aggressive villains, at least, are all males (please note that qualifying adjective right before “villains”).

But there are good male characters present as well and without them the happy ending would not have been possible. Left on their own, Anna and Elsa are both clearly in over their heads.

 On the female side of things, both sisters exhibit negative traits along with their positive ones, and their flaws contribute significantly to their own problems. Neither are the princesses the heroes.

You read that correctly.

The princesses are not the heroes of Frozen.

Don’t take my word for it; take it from Walt Disney themselves in their trailer below, dated September 26, 2013, just two months before Frozen debuted. Remember, this was when something like 99 per cent of the world’s population had yet to see the movie and make it their own. It’s blatantly obvious that, in the movie the studio was releasing, there was only one heroine.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TbQm5doF_Uc
Where’s Elsa?

Notice the options to the answer to the question “Who will save the day?” “Ice guy, Nice guy, Snowman, or no man,” singular, right beside Anna’s face. Elsa is nowhere in sight.

In fact, she’s hardly in sight in this trailer at all. Interestingly, we do get a glimpse of Elsa here in cut footage, casting down arctic gales, still being presented in her originally conceived villainous mode this late in the game. Frozen’s release was just two months away.

Elsa Going the Extra Mile to Make Trouble for Anna and Kristoff in a Scene Cut from the Final Version of Frozen.

Even in an alternative trailer, where more of Elsa is seen (and more cut footage), she is clearly not the hero but the damsel in distress!

So, just as advertised, in the rarely seen Frozen Walt Disney made, Princess Anna is definitely our heroine who takes the initiative and saves her sister (that’s not the same thing as saying the guys “didn’t do anything.” I’ll come back to that).

But Elsa…okay. I’m in love with her. She truly is one of Disney’s most unique characters, a fairy tale princess who is one of their most human, conflicted, vulnerable and broken while possessing both great power and beauty.

But she is no hero.  

Is This the Face of Girl Power? Or Does This Damsel Look Distressed? Elsa In An Overwhelmed Moment (One In A Series).

Instead, she is a refreshingly fallible and sadly alone character. From childhood, she stoically accepts the unfair burden of her lot in life. But all the while her heart is breaking for a sister to whom she must appear heartless to protect her from powers she can no longer control.

Thus, Elsa begins noble, self-sacrificing, loving, dutiful, disciplined, obedient, and as one who puts others’ good ahead of her own desires. It is at the start of the movie that she demonstrates strength.

But she ultimately collapses under pressure after her sister Anna’s “leap before you think” impetuousness (this makes twice Anna’s done this to her; the first time it was literal, this time it’s figurative) throws her a curve that causes her to lose control.

The revelation of her ice powers is, shall we say, less than warmly received by her public, and the newly crowned queen flees the kingdom and her sister.

That’s when the braid comes down, the dress and the walk get sexy, she’s “one with the wind and sky,” builds her personal ice castle getaway (not a timeshare!), etc., etc., and when, allegedly, she enters into her glory and becomes “empowered” for the first time.

Does Your Ice Castle Have A Front Porch To Go With That Swing?

In context of her character arc, however, having fled in fear and turned her back on both those who love and need her, she is at her weakest point so far. She is, in fact, at the beginning of a downward spiral of total loss of control even as she proclaims to have taken charge of herself at last.

None of the above is my opinion. It is demonstratively what is happening in the movie’s story itself.

But when it comes to opinions, one that should carry some weight, if authorial intent counts (and it does, no matter what your college professors might say) is that of Elsa’s co-creator and co-script writer of Frozen, Jennifer Lee.

Jennifer Lee, The Power Behind the Throne of Arendelle.

Now, in the Disney documentary The Story of Frozen: the Making of a Disney Animated Classic, Elsa is described as a hero, including by Lee herself, though, significantly, she qualifies her as “complicated” and “tortured.”

It’s important to note that this special aired on ABC in December 2014 over a year after the movie’s release with the initial pop cultural freeze of Frozen yet to thaw. By this time, the movie had already been redefined by the public, and Disney had embraced that they’d made a different movie than they actually did.

But go back almost a year to February 4, 2014, less than three months after the movie’s release, to an interview with Jennifer Lee on the Scriptnotes podcast (episode 128).

At that time, when she had just finished the movie that she had co-written and co-directed, when it was only unexpectedly extremely popular, not an undying cultural sensation, she describes Elsa neither as “heroic” nor “empowered” but “damaged” (which lines up well with “complicated” and “tormented”).

“Damaged.” Having lost her parents and separated from her sister, Elsa must mourn alone. Her whole world has shattered, and, indeed, it’s like she sits among the remnants of a broken snow globe.

Let’s face it.  “Damaged” describes the personality of someone who succumbs to fear, loses self-control, and runs away from a serious problem – twice. At the end of the movie, Elsa hasn’t even learned from her mistakes! Those aren’t the actions of a hero by any stretch of the imagination.

You can put a glamorous dress and a beauty queen’s runway strut on it all you want, and boy! – the snow queen is hot in that scene – but none of that, nor the ability to command the elements and create life, equals strength of character.

Now, that is not to say that Elsa isn’t a strong creation artistically. She is quite an achievement by Lee and co-writer/ co-director Chris Buck, but again, not for the reasons most people say. No, it’s because she is psychologically real, “complicated,” an admirable accomplishment by the creators of any make-believe character.

I would go so far as to suggest that Buck and Lee (along with the husband and wife Anderson song writing team, as we shall see) have introduced to Walt Disney princess movies the psychological complexity that Samuel Richardson’s eponymous Pamela did for characters in novels over two hundred years earlier.

A scene from the first novel to give us a character like those in Shakespeare’s plays, one whom you could put on a psychiatrist’s couch: Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded by Samuel Richardson. Elsa Is A Similar Innovation in Disney Princess Movies.

Like Pamela, Elsa’s speech and behavior give us cause to question how much she truly understands her own actions.

For instance, while proclaiming, “I’m never going back, the past is in the past,” Elsa herself is at that moment repeating her old modus operandi of “turn away and slam the door” and on a grand scale this time. Her isolating herself more than ever is now perpetuating pain, not just upon her sister, but her entire kingdom.

So, clearly, the past is not in the past. Yet Elsa, “standing in the light of day,” can’t see the incoherence between her actions and her own words. If she truly saw herself, instead of singing “Let it go! Let it go!” she would be singing,

For a computer generated cartoon, Elsa is amazingly human in her blindness to her own contradictions.

In fact, nowhere is Elsa more misunderstood, by both herself and her fans, than when she is belting out “Let It Go,” her iconic moment. But those who genuflect to this icon of “female empowerment” are worshiping at the wrong altar. And those who would desecrate it for the same reason are equally mistaken.

Now, I enjoy that song a lot, especially with the accompanying visuals. It is a storytelling masterpiece, the perfect synthesis of spectacle and character in an animated musical.

The viewer moves with Elsa from heartbreak to exultation as she at last releases both a lifetime of unjust burden and her long suppressed latent ability to create and be herself.

(Pardon me. I seem to have something in my eye….)

However… it behooves us to recall the song was written at a stage in the movie when, according to co-song writer Kristen Anderson-Lopez, “… Elsa was a villain. She was still coming down with her army of evil snowmen to… terrorize the village. We were still writing a villain song….”

(Click below if you’d like a fuller account from the songwriters themselves –complete with storyboards of Elsa’s army of killer snowmen, a scene nobody is on record as regretting it didn’t make the final cut.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0eEHYbH2lQg

So, they weren’t trying to write a girl power ballad. They were just trying to understand what it was like to be that character.  That song pushed Jennifer Lee to rewrite Elsa into the not intentionally malign but misunderstood young woman that people fell in love with.

But it should give us pause to note that while the song changed Elsa’s character, Elsa’s character did not change the song. The lyrics and sentiments are still those of a villain. (According to Jennifer Lee, they didn’t change one word).

With that in mind, let’s read over some of those lines, not as you’ve heard them a thousand times, but with authorial intent:

“It’s time to see what I can do/ To test the limits and break through / No right, no wrong, no rules for me /I’m free! / Let it go, Let it go!/ Can’t hold it back anymore / Let it go, Let it go! / Turn away and slam the door….Here I stand / In the light of day/ Let the storm rage on!/ The cold never bothered me anyway!”

Its telling that the above lyrics could be just as well sung by Hans, our story’s unrepentant blackguard! If not a duet like he performed with Anna, he could certainly join in and harmonize with Elsa.

Even the line “Let the storm rage on/ The cold never bothered me anyway” expresses his self-centered ruthlessness. It’s the perfect slogan for a guy like Hans who doesn’t care whom he hurts as long as it’s all good for him.

(Perhaps some fans have picked up on how much Elsa and Hans are on some level made for each other. In fan fiction and art there’s a whole genre dedicated to “Helsa.”).

Elsa Seems to be Fighting Her Feelings at the Royal Ball, apparently held at the Arendelle Chapter of the Hellfire Club. But Its Scandalous Enough to Judge by the Crowd Reactions. I Think the Duke Just Swallowed His False Teeth! “Helsa” Collage Fan Art from Fanpop.

Now there are major differences in the two. Elsa’s actions are reactive; she is “…mak(ing) bad choices because she’s mad, or scared, or stressed” as the lyrics of “He’s A Bit of a Fixer Upper” metatextually describe her, while Hans is actively out to make trouble for his own gain.

Also, Elsa still truly loves Anna and doesn’t set out intending to hurt others while Hans is a narcissistic sociopath from the start.

These differences and Elsa’s change into a misunderstood, sympathetic character have altered the context of the song’s lyrics. But the fact remains that these are still the unchanged lyrics of a villain’s song, which makes “Let It Go’s” pop cultural status as an “empowerment ballad” questionable.  

I’m Going to Go Out On a Limb Here and Say If We’d Gotten This Earlier Version of Evil Elsa and Her All Star Evil Snowmen Musical Revue in 2013, There Wouldn’t Be a Frozen 2 Coming Out This November. Still, cool art!

And we should question it. There is more going on here, outside the frame of the film, that is responsible for that song’s popularity with anyone twelve years old and up. Frozen’s audience hears it through a distinct cultural filter. Reverend Timothy Keller sites the lyrics of “Let It Go” as a current popular expression of a world view that he says “has been called Western expressive individualism.”

Our culture exalts human autonomy as the ultimate, if not only, source of authority. It is the revival of eighteenth century Romanticism, which, in America at least, began to be aggressively disseminated over the latter half of the twentieth century by the cultural “switch points,” from frustrated ’60’s hippy radicals at the front of university classrooms to the popular tabloid TV of The Jerry Springer Show.

But the roots go much further back to the revival of pagan culture through the Enlightenment world view that began high jacking western civilization centuries ago.

As one old sage said of his own pagan times, “You can tell what kind of people they are by the songs that they sing.”

And what was everyone singing following the weekend of Thanksgiving, November 2013 (and some would say, ever since)? Well, you know the answer to that, but if you need a reminder, just click below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=moSFlvxnbgk
C’mon….ONE MORE TIME!

“No right, no wrong, no rules for me. I’m free!” is a 21st century pop song restatement of the fifth century B.C.E. classical philosopher Protogorus who said, “The individual is the center of all things” (which has been glossed over time into “man is the center of all things”).

One of the Architects of Your World: Protogorus (490 B.C.E. -420 B.C.E.). Never heard of him? But you have heard of Frozen‘s Elsa? You see, Elsa Is A Lot Younger, A Blonde, A Royal, A Singer, and Wears A Dress That Shows Some Leg. All of Which Are Sufficient to Qualify Her As the Spokesperson for Western Expressive Individualism. That’s About As Deep As It Gets.

I’m not saying there’s any harm in little children singing along with the soundtrack of Frozen, unless their parents have turned them over to cartoons for their values, in which case the problem is with the parents. And teenagers and adults can still enjoy belting it out with Idina Menzel over the car stereo or during karaoke night with no damage done.

But a man or woman who proclaims “No right, no wrong, no rules for me, I’m free!” and means it is a dangerous person. And as a world view, this extreme autonomy is especially dangerous, as it is untenable and incoherent.

It’s dangerous because, if embraced by society, it would lead to the anarchy that the Romantics of the eighteenth century loved in theory, but which, as Doctor Elizabeth Cantor has pointed out, led to suffering in their own lives and the lives of others. This is what “Western expressive individualism” would cause on a mass scale if everyone decided “no right, no wrong, no rules for me! I’m free!” and acted on this “personal moral code.”


While Exulting In Her Freedom to Be Herself By Herself, How Does Elsa Express Her Independence and Solitary Self Sufficiency? By Building An Ice Castle With A Stairway That Serves As A BRIDGE! What’s Wrong With This Picture?

It’s untenable and incoherent because everyone who proclaims “no right, no wrong, no rules for me. I’m free!” will then turn around and expect others to act as though there is right, wrong, and rules when their behavior begins to interfere with that of individual who has declared “I’m letting it go!”  or “doing my own thing” (which is what we called “Western expressive individualism” in the sixties and seventies).

When a couple of goons try to assassinate her during the raid on her ice castle, Elsa doesn’t grant them the autonomy of “no right, no wrong , no rules.” And, significantly, neither does the viewer of the movie. We inherently recognize a moral yard stick outside both parties by which their behaviors are measured.

And don’t the people of Arendelle have a right not to be frozen to death by their abdicated queen? To expect her to come back to at least try to save them? So, who gets to be free to live their lives the way they want to? Elsa’s subjects or Elsa?

Elsa’s life clearly remains not her own. Even when she has made every effort to isolate herself, the snow with which she has blanketed the entire kingdom visually emphasizes her inescapable interconnectedness with her people.

The Self-Fulfillment Elsa Enjoys By “Letting Go” Creates Suffering and Pain for Others. The Snow She Creates Puts Her Under the Same Blanket As Her People. Even on her isolated mountain top, she remains “a piece of the continent, a part of the main.”

 “No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main….(A)ny man’s death diminishes me for I am involved in humanity,”  John Donne observed long ago with far better poetry and more truth than what many people have seen in the lyrics of “Let It Go.”

While very few will ever be in a position like Elsa to abdicate a throne, no one exists without owing his or her life and the ability to enjoy it as he or she does to someone else. Neither is anyone truly self-sufficient, both of which are prerequisites to “Western expressive individualism.”

Thus, a lot of real people are grounding their “personal moral code” in non-reality. It makes sense, then, that they are among those who, instead of Frozen, have embraced a phantom movie. Unpopular as the truth may be, the individual does owe something to others, and their best interests, not just someone’s own, are deserving of consideration.

Elsa does not give such consideration to her subjects. After seeing with her own eyes that she has doomed everybody, and she subsequently escapes capture, what does she do then?  She runs away –again!

And this time not simply out of understandable panic or fear. To be blunt, this go ‘round she’s a coward. It’s like someone driving off from the scene of a car accident that’s your fault! More, her committing Anna to Hans care (!) makes it clear she doesn’t plan on coming back.

 The results of subscribing to a mantra of “No right, no wrong, no rules for me” now shows its terrible consequences. In context, Frozen repudiates Elsa’s “personal moral code” as expressed in “Let It Go;” it doesn’t endorse it.


Interestingly, the Broadway version of Frozen includes a climactic reprise of “Let It Go” with new lyrics that serve as a corrective to the original’s sentiments, emphasizing community.

Unfortunately, too many people got to that show stopping number…and stopped. Or, at least stopped watching the story that was being told to them and began seeing a different one, that of the Phantom Movie.

I hate to say it because I love her, but it seems Elsa as the villain did survive into the final cut after all. The concept of fairy tale heavy has been turned on its head indeed, but, as is often the case with Frozen, not exactly the way everyone says it has.

But what script writers Lee and Buck have given us are actually more interesting reversals:  the damsel in distress is distressing herself – and everyone else! The maiden has locked herself away in the villain’s castle…and it’s one of her own making!

That’s genius stuff and much superior variants to the comparatively simplistic ho-hum girl power “I don’t need a prince” concept of that other movie I keep hearing about.

So, a revolutionary and well realized character Elsa is indeed, but a character who is an “empowered woman” and a hero? No. She’s about as heroic as Carrie.

But why should she have to be heroic? Why does she have to be “empowered?” Disney has given us something much more interesting and unique in her than if she were the paragon of girl power both her admirers and detractors make her out to be.

Just contrast her with a more recent Disney heroine who is perfect, Wreck It Ralph 2: Ralph Breaks the Internet‘s “Shank.” Quite frankly, Shank feels like a cartoon character compared to Elsa. There is no sense of her having any inner life as does the Queen of Arendelle.

Shank: Miss Calculation. Shank was voiced by Gail Godot, who makes such an appealing and charismatic Wonder Woman. Unfortunately, as conceived and written, Shank isn’t up to Godot’s Wonder Woman standard. They had the right actress, but….sigh. It could have been great.

And, tellingly, the calculated girl power statement that is Shank has never begun to take off to the same degree as Elsa. Little girls, like everyone else, fall in love with well-written characters, not walking, talking social agenda messages.

However, Disney itself is altering their artistically superior original Elsa to bring her in line with the public’s redefining of her. While the Broadway version’s denouement offers a reprise of “Let It Go” that adds welcome new lyrics that serve as a corrective to the original ones, in the new number “Monster,” Elsa becomes heroic and determines to set things right, even if it means her death.

And as for her presentation in the upcoming Frozen 2, well, if you haven’t already, check it out…..

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=suVQt0pfOLc&fbclid=IwAR0N3yGFmSb92CsuDMKDzZYGSxJMYsXu2vQXzlRo8HrQgwuYaIdxws11vQw

 

Remember how little Elsa was in the 2013 trailer for Frozen above? Back when Anna was the heroine? Elsa is now second only to Darth Vader as a character who mutated from her original conception as a menace in a secondary role to supplant the original hero as the saga’s primary protagonist!

Character progression is certainly welcome as long as it remains consistent with what has been established, but please, Disney, don’t shank her!

Okay, so we’ve shown Elsa is far from perfect, but she’s still sympathetic, has sincerely tried to live out her good intentions even if she failed, and never actively sought to hurt others. But what about her sister Anna? Isn’t she just little Miss Can’t Be Wrong?

Beautiful Character Conceptual Art by One of Disney’s Greatest Assets, Brittney Lee, for Anna’s Coronation Dress, Complete With Her Signature Bodice.

Hardly. She’s immature, headstrong, doesn’t think things through (both Elsa and Kristoff call her out for her premature engagement), foolishly entrusts everything to a man she’ s known less than a day, and, like her sister, makes impulsive decisions that just make things a lot worse.

She is also inclined to judge a man simply on his sex appeal. It’s not just Hans. A careful viewer will see Kristoff is in love with her before she acknowledges him as a man. Note that it’s only immediately after she’s impressed with his physical strength, when he lifts her out of the snow, that she starts playing with her hair and finds an excuse to touch him.

These imperfections are quite wonderful because they keep her relatable and real. Otherwise, she would be too good, “Saint Anna,” and her good, just as she is, is very good indeed.  Anna is faithful, brave, and, with no encouragement, gives up her life for another, and with it the satisfaction of romantic love.

It’s not that Frozen is saying that romantic love between a man and woman is not desirable or bad. The movie itself bears out otherwise. However, even fairy tale princesses must learn there is something deeper in which true love’s kiss must be grounded that is not romantic, but without which, there’s no true love, to say nothing of true romance.

Frozen’s co-script writer Chris Buck, who was on the project before Jennifer Lee and with her guided it through to completion, always wanted it to be a story about a “different kind of love.” Everyone justly  praises Anna for her sisterly love – but that’s where it stops in the Phantom Movie.

The real Frozen offers us so much more as well, what the Greeks call agape, self-sacrificing love, which is what Anna puts into action for someone to whom she is still alienated at the time. She doesn’t even believe that Elsa loves her back when she gives up her life for her.

Anna’s Pain and Despair Are Palpable As She Looks Longingly Toward the Distant Kristoff and Feels, Beyond the Mere Breakdown of Her Body, The Unbearable Weight of True Death — Eternal Separation.

Only by choosing the complete abandonment of self is she able to gain the life of her deepest longings. If, like her big sister, she had tried to resolve her crisis by putting her immediate self-interests first, even if she had managed to reach Kristoff, she would have most certainly lost everything beyond recall.

“Die before you die,” says one of the gods in C.S. Lewis’ Till We Have Faces, also a tale of two princesses which explores different kinds of love, “there is no chance after.”

Thus, Anna is the one who truly “lets it go” and becomes, not simply the opposite, but both the corrective and the salvation of her sister.

That’s awesome.

Agape…”A Different Kind of Love” That Heightens and Deepens All Other Forms. Small Wonder. It ‘s the Love of God. Another Beautiful Brittney Lee Piece from the Frozen Children’s Book, A Sister Just Like Me.

Anna, like Elsa, then, is a startling original characterization among Disney princesses, but even more so. She is a mythic “redeemer hero” (to use Reverend Paul Leggett’s term in his study of director Terence Fisher).


Frozen May Not Go Nearly As Deep As Lewis’ Masterpiece Above, But It Goes Far Deeper Than Is Generally Acknowledged Into Similar Themes. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe Also Has a Common Ancestor With Frozen in The Snow Queen.

But where is Anna’s male equal in the movie? Aren’t all the guys in Frozen ineffectual if not sinister after all?

Let’s look at “sinister” first.  Jordan Peterson (in Time magazine): “I could barely sit through Frozen. There was an attempt to craft a moral message and to build the story around that, instead of building the story and letting the moral message emerge. It was the subjugation of art to propaganda, in my estimation.”

Dr. Jordan Peterson Gives the Snow Queen the Cold Shoulder.

“In the propagandistic story,” Peterson explains, “…(y)ou see the darkness all being in one place and the light all being in one place.”

I have to wonder if Dr. Peterson was as precise with his word choices here as he might have been. Writing a story with an intentional “moral message” is not synonymous with writing “propaganda.” If he meant “social agenda message” (and, in context, that’s what I’m sensing) then I would agree with him.

And he is certainly correct on the divisive nature of “light” and “dark” in true propaganda. Clearly, for Peterson, in Frozen the light is all in the girls and the dark all in the boys. We’ve already dispelled that notion just by our examination of Elsa’s character alone.

However, it’s main villain Hans with whom Peterson particularly takes issue and has a legitimate observation. So, that’s where we’ll focus, since there’s no question the Duke of Weselton and his thugs are evil from their first appearance.

Peterson complains that Hans was “a perfectly good guy” who was changed into “a villain without any character development.”

Now, Peterson is correct that Hans’ “turning” evil wasn’t properly set up by the writers, and there was no “character development.” A valid criticism as far as it relates to the craft of storytelling. But Peterson goes beyond that and pronounces on both authorial intent and the writers’ creative process.

Anna Cuddles Up to Her Archenemy In Another Beautiful Conceptual Piece by Brittney Lee. The sense of scale Lee rendered here without losing the characterization and storytelling with the smaller figures through composition and color is brilliant.

The voice of authority here, however, cannot be that of the erudite Dr. Peterson but the authors themselves. In fact, although she is not addressing Peterson but the interviewers on the previously cited Scriptnotes podcast, Jennifer Lee directly refutes him:

“Well, it’s the point of, like, not wanting to preach or make statements, but letting it evoke itself (emphasis added)…. It’s like these are real characters.”

While her former boss at Disney, Jon Lasseter, was keen on Hans’ reveal coming out of nowhere (and I have no idea what his motives were), Lee creatively chaffed against it. To make it work for her, she described how she developed his psychological motivations for herself on Scriptnotes:

“…I had to literally walk through every scene, what’s going on in his head for real….The first time when he finds out she’s (Anna) a princess and drops to his knees. Before that she’s just a girl. But the key moment is when she says, ‘It’s just me.’ And he goes ‘Just you?’ And that’s like inside he’s going, “Ooh, you don’t think very highly of yourself, do you? Well, I’m gonna….”

So, contrary to Peterson and those of the “all bros are evil” in Frozen persuasion, Hans reveal was not intended as a statement of any kind. The writers thought of their cast and wrote them, Hans included, “as real characters,” not propaganda puppets.

The fact is that there are men who use their sex appeal, charm and charisma to control and harm women, so, even with the flaw in the writing, Hans still has verisimilitude as a certain type of guy. But Frozen never makes the statement that he represents all men or even most.

And while we’re on males in general, can we trash the false analogy of “prince=man?” There’s a big difference. If Frozen’s argument is that a woman doesn’t need a prince, then the counterargument, as presented in Kristoff, is not that she doesn’t need a man, but that she needs a blue collar man.

Conceptual Art of Anna With Her Initially Anti-Social and Gruff Protector. Of Course He Was Going to Fall In Love With This Combination Princess/Waif In the Woods. It Was Just a Matter of Time. She’s Adorable!

You know. Someone who can clean out the kitchen sink pipe when it gets clogged up from her washing her hair. Someone who can get things done.

But the ladies love themselves a good prince fantasy.  

The Hallmark Channel, a channel for adult women let us note, not little girls, constantly repeats Prince Charming stories. Look, I love Cinderella, and I’m confident enough in my masculinity to admit I enjoy an occasional Hallmark chick flick.  Life is hard, man, and those movies can be a soothing balm.

However, the channel and the advertising for something maybe entitled When Calls A Christmas Princess (probably airing in July) and starring Candace Cameron or Winnie from The Wonder Years, make it clear the rescuing prince is a woman’s fantasy perpetuated by women for women.

I Think I’m Starting To See A Pattern Here….

It is not a false narrative that men are promoting on a mass scale to “keep women down.” Most men, quite frankly, would rather be waterboarded than have to sit through one of these Hallmark Cinderella updates, let alone have thought up one of the things in the first place.

If anything, the real Frozen is critical, not of men, not even so much the predators, but the women who buy into this prince fantasy as real life and set themselves up for trouble. At least, that’s the lesson Anna learns.  

Now, leaving behind the question of whether or not the filmmakers had any obligation to give Anna a male equally virtuous (for “representation” purposes, you understand), I reiterate there are good male characters who do indeed significantly contribute to the happy ending of our modern fairy tale.

The real Frozen is not a story of “sisters doing it for themselves.” It is a tale of sisters being rescued from themselves. And the guys play a significant role in accomplishing that.

Yep. No Damsels In Distress In This Movie. Not. At. All. And… Both Physical Strength and Tender Solicitude Combined In One Man? What Woman in the 21st Century Could Possibly Ever Want That? I Rather Suspect The Vast Majority.

Mountain man Kristoff’s contribution to the story doesn’t seem to exist in the Frozen most of the world saw. But are you going to believe what people say happens in the movie or what actually happens?

First of all, it’s obvious that without Kristoff, Anna, abandoned to the elements, would have been a popsicle long before Elsa got a chance to freeze her heart!

Far from ineffectual, he is a very capable male whose expertise Anna needs just to survive her quest through the snowbound wilderness. He even puts her life ahead of his, in the jump over the chasm scene, when she’s still just an annoying stranger to him. So, yeah: dude’s a hero.


Elsa With Anna, As She Would Have Appeared Forty-Five Minutes Into the Movie Instead of At the End Without Kristoff’s Help.

More importantly, he actually demonstrates to Anna the depths of true love when she thinks its defined only by sexual attraction and somebody who validates you – in other words, when she believes a male-female love relationship is all about her.

And it’s another male, the snowman Olaf, who has to explain to her the nature of agape. Kristoff and Olaf show her the way of self-sacrifice by loving her, and while her sacrifice supersedes his by its all or nothing nature, Anna is clearly following Kristoff’s example.

If Olaf Is Not My Favorite Character in Frozen, He’s Still A Positive Male One. I’ll paraphrase Shakespeare: “Elsa Made Him, Let Him Pass For A Man.” 

So, the guys “didn’t do anything?” My former student most have been watching a different movie. The Phantom Movie.

Frozen, then, the real movie, isn’t about how women today don’t need a prince. (Though, to judge by the Hallmark Channel, whether they need one or not, they’re still hoping!)

Rather Frozen challenges their notions of how they define a prince, that it should not be by looks, bloodline, wealth, and title, but by character. Clearly, in Frozen, as in the real world, there are some good guys out there, ladies. Just…maybe you should be hoping for a tool belt and not a tiara.

Anna’s Happy Ending Only Comes When She Releases Her Prince Fantasies For the Real Thing.

Obviously, none of this is anti-male at all. But, ultimately, the main point of Frozen was never about women and princes. Remember, Chris Buck, the co-writer who was on the project at an earlier stage than even Jennifer Lee, says his purpose was altogether something else: “he wanted to do something different on the definition of love.”

G.K. Chesterton commented that the role of the critic is not to say what the artist should have done but to ask what did the artist intend to do, and did he do it? That’s a far more realistic criteria, and, judged by it, Frozen is a resounding success, just as it is often heralded…if for almost always all the wrong reasons.

Chris Buck, the True Visionary Behind Frozen.

So, if after six years and with the publicity for the sequel already in the first flurry, if you are understandably tired of Frozen… 

Well, there is a far superior animated movie you should check out, released in November of 2013 on the very same day as Walt Disney released Frozen, but which got lost in all the excitement over that popular sensation and which comparatively few people have ever seen.

It’s called Walt Disney’s Frozen.

As for me, my musings on magic kingdoms, pixie dust and women who can fire icicles out of their fingernails, for now, at least, are at an end. It is time to head for the old upholstered leather chair, break out a fine wine, cue up some Eine Kleine Nacht-Musick on my playlist, and crack the spine, once more, of volume one of In Search of Lost Time.  Take it, Marcel: Longtemps, je me suis couché de bonne heure….

LTD. TIME OFFER: Micah S.Harris’ romantic fantasy Portrait Of A Snow Queen is instantly available on Kindle for only $.99 through Labor Day 2021! Check it and the other volumes in the series out here: amazon.com/Witches-Winter-Trilogy-Book/dp/B08R68J913  And all three books are always FREE with Kindle Unlimited! 

The author on tour at the “Arendelle Welcoming Station,” seen here with a couple of the locals.
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