Let's Talk About the Ending of Frozen

MovieBob

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Let's Talk About the Ending of Frozen

Frozen can count among its myriad charms the one thing you just never expect to see from an animation studio whose signature brand is rigidly-formulaic retellings of stories so old your great-grandmother grew up hearing them.

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Izanagi009_v1legacy

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MovieBob said:
Let's Talk About the Ending of Frozen

Frozen can count among its myriad charms the one thing you just never expect to see from an animation studio whose signature brand is rigidly-formulaic retellings of stories so old your great-grandmother grew up hearing them:

Surprises.

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Ah yes, It's about time we actually had a deconstruction of the god damn True Love at First Sight trope. The trope had served it's purpose in the past but now feels like an antiquated and pathetic line for those who either are too lazy to find love or have no responsibilities in the world to distract them. I hope this signals the rise of more decontructive works from Disney and other movie studios because it's time to get out of this stupid stagnancy of mainstream movie going (note, the indie scene is fine but it's not going to enlighten anyone but those who are already in the know and honestly, the American public needs a good slap of reality at some point)
 

Conner42

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I liked the movie, I didn't love it though. But, I'm certainly glad I got to see it though.

Since this column already has spoilers in it, I shouldn't feel like I need to put in what I say next into the spoiler box, but...just in case...

So, My friends and I were already like "What?" when Anna and that prince guy, who turns out to be the bad guy, latched on to each other pretty quickly. Yeah...getting engaged after only a couple of hours of knowing eachother? Right...I wasn't sure if we were supposed to buy into that(I mean, holy shit, I already had to try to do that in fucking Les Miserables), but when Kristoff actually kind of points out that what she did was kind of dumb, I was a bit more relieved to know that, yes, the movie also knows that what's she's doing is incredibly stupid. It wasn't like Kristoff was painted in a certain cynical light. I'd imagine that if they were going that way, Kristoff would have acted more like Eeyore. But, instead, Kristoff was pretty up-beat in his own sort of way as well.

I guess I'm not experienced enough with Disney movies to be shocked by this supposed 180 that the movie does, but I actually was pretty surprised that one prince guy, who turns out to be the bad guy, turned out to be the bad guy.

I kind of wished I liked this movie more than I did. I liked the songs, I liked the plot and everything, but, maybe these twists and turns didn't latch on to me as well as it seemed to for other people.
 

Amir Kondori

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I loved this movie. Saw it Thanksgiving day, the showing had no more than 40 people in the audience, but everyone, adults and kids, were into it, lots of laughing, scene appropriate reactions, it was great.
 

Crimson_Dragoon

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Conner42 said:
I liked the movie, I didn't love it though. But, I'm certainly glad I got to see it though.

Since this column already has spoilers in it, I shouldn't feel like I need to put in what I say next into the spoiler box, but...just in case...

So, My friends and I were already like "What?" when Anna and that prince guy, who turns out to be the bad guy, latched on to each other pretty quickly. Yeah...getting engaged after only a couple of hours of knowing eachother? Right...I wasn't sure if we were supposed to buy into that(I mean, holy shit, I already had to try to do that in fucking Les Miserables), but when Kristoff actually kind of points out that what she did was kind of dumb, I was a bit more relieved to know that, yes, the movie also knows that what's she's doing is incredibly stupid. It wasn't like Kristoff was painted in a certain cynical light. I'd imagine that if they were going that way, Kristoff would have acted more like Eeyore. But, instead, Kristoff was pretty up-beat in his own sort of way as well.

I guess I'm not experienced enough with Disney movies to be shocked by this supposed 180 that the movie does, but I actually was pretty surprised that one prince guy, who turns out to be the bad guy, turned out to be the bad guy.

I kind of wished I liked this movie more than I did. I liked the songs, I liked the plot and everything, but, maybe these twists and turns didn't latch on to me as well as it seemed to for other people.
I completely bought into the love at first sight thing. This is a Disney movie after all, and like Bob pointed out, you almost expect that to be present and taken completely seriously. That makes the twist even better in that it plays with the expectations you have from simply walking into a Disney movie.
 

WhiteTigerShiro

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MovieBob said:
More than a few critics and commentators have wondered/suggested that perhaps we're meant to "read" Elsa as being a lesbian, with her powers acting as an unsubtle metaphor for the same the way it does in the X-Men movies - she was, after all, born this way.
I think that sentiment reads a little more into the mentality of the general public than it does for Frozen's narrative. Having just got back from the movie, I never once considered that Elsa might be implied to be a lesbian, nor did it even occur to me to even call her sexuality into question. Are people really so uncomfortable about sexuality that any character not proven to be straight MUST be because the character was meant to be homosexual? She didn't have a love interest because she didn't. She's 18! She has an entire off-screen "happily ever after" to potentially meet a love interest.

Anyway, I sorta saw the twist coming, to the point where when the movie was over, I wasn't sure what you meant by a big shocking twist in your video review (that I checked out shortly before leaving to catch the movie). I won't say that I fully saw it, but there was this niggling doubt in the back of my head the entire time, so when the twist presented itself I wasn't as shocked as maybe I should have been. Rather my reaction was "So THAT'S why things were seeming a little off". Though I suppose that my reaction having a capitalized "that" should have my cue that "the twist" was revealed.
 

Iceklimber

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I think the technical side of the Movie was underappreciated. The tech created almost photorealistic snow, amazing Ice Effects with multiple shaders, and the stormy sea scene had probably more polygons than any animation scene before (which is why they didn'T show more than a few seconds of it).

Just my two cents.
 

Muspelheim

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I'd... Never in my wildest dreams even imagine this sort of relative bravery from Disney, of all places. Dearie me. These certainly are interesting times. I hope their commitment to reflection and evolution is well rewarded.

One thing I rather like is that it stands proof that you can attempt a deconstruction without excessive cynicism.

I'm very pleased that I got to know of it, I'd never think to look twice past the (abyssmal) advert campaign. Honestly, if this film ends up suffering for it, I hope they have their marketing department shot. It's Disney, surely they have at least one firing squad?

I think it'd be safe to say that I have children, it will become mandatory viewing in the Muspelheimian household.
 

WanderingFool

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Well... I may actually have to consider this. A completely shocking twist, that works... Awesome.
 

Sniper Team 4

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I just got back from seeing the movie. My friend leaned over and said that he wasn't so sure about Hans after the song, but I just brushed him off. Needless to say, when the reveal came, I was floored (felt my blood run a bit cool, ha ha) and he leaned over and said, "I knew it!"

I like the fact that Anna saved herself. No prince, no kiss, no waiting to be rescued (after a certain point). She did it herself, which is another thing that I think Disney broke with tradition with.
 

ShirowShirow

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Makes me wonder though. If the movie succeeds, will they credit that to the marketing? If the movie fails, will they credit that to the twist and message?
 

Therumancer

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Interesting, but I don't think the film deserves quite that much kudos. Largely because as Bob points out it relies entirely on it being a Disney movie to have any kind of real impact. The central idea of role reversals and such is actually kind of a stereotype, and that includes children's fare nowadays. Most anime is actually intended for a fairly young audience for example, and we've seen good guys and bad guys changing roles by the final act plenty of times. Heck back in the 1990s "Gundam Wing" pretty much decided to play this basic kind of game, starting out pretty stereotypical, but had everyone apparently change apparent alligiences at least once making it so you weren't entirely sure what the sides were going to look like come the finale. I think that was originally made in 1995, so it's almost 20 years old, and it's hardly unique (just an example I'm using because it had some mainstream success on US television). In short I'm not sure you can really claim a fake out dependent on your own tropes anything to write home about.

Then of course there is what I like to call "The Superman Factor" that is to say that I detest people trying to make everything edgy, grimdark, morally ambigious, and filled with tons of angst because it's considered to be "deeper" or "more realistic and relevant". Something like "Superman" is supposed to be kind of corny, upbeat, and in the end pretty bloody optimistic. The attempts to remake Superman as a more dark, edgy, and angst driven character miss the entire point OF the character, and by trying to rework him that way also cheapen other "darker" works because they tend to function by having something like "Superman' to compare them to. As odd as it is, the old "Superman/Gen-13" kind of said it bed, Superman is not fashionable, he has never been fashionable, what he is, is the one thing you can absolutely rely on. The point of Superman is, that no matter how bad things get, he will always, save the day and have things coming up roses, and he's not supposed to be wallowing in emotional pain when he does it.

This applies to something like "Frozen" because really I think Disney's work provides a backbone of tradition and optimism that let's people get away from all the crap in real life, and also provides a counterpoint to other, darker, works. Sure "Love At First Sight" doesn't happen very often for example, but it's wonderful when it does, and ultimately presents a sort of optimistic outlook people can enjoy in getting away from reality. While what they did here isn't terrible, I tend to think this messing around with their format is akin to people deciding they want to do things like re-envision Superman as something less than the world saving paragon he's supposed to be, again and again, in doing this kind of thing I think something like "Frozen" ultimately cheapens itself and misses the entire point of the brand it's a part of. What's more, if it's going to play in this league, it shouldn't be given a pass just because it's a Disney movie, in rating it fairly you should start bringing up material that handled the same kind of messages for a young audience, at which point you need to start comparing "Frozen" to the plots and lead ins of various animes, youth oriented novels, movies, and TV shows and the like, at which point it becomes "visually spectacular, but ultimately flat" warranting little more than a "C". The only reason to rate it higher is if your basically projecting some kind of counter-culture victory onto Disney.

I'll also say in closing that kids today have enough to be depressed about, without turning Prince Charming into a sleaze in a Disney movie. Closer to reality it might be, but when your dealing with concerns over youth suicide, mass shootings by kids, and everything else, I'm not sure a movie that is reliant on the tropes in it's own series, pulling more or less a "surprise! we were lying to you the whole time" kind of move is exactly the kind of thing Disney should be doing. Disney is supposed to be... I don't know... like audio-visual comfort food.
 

Ishal

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Therumancer said:
Disney should be doing. Disney is supposed to be... I don't know... like audio-visual comfort food.
And ya know, funny thing about comfort food, it sometimes can give you diarrhea.

It's great to have the old stuff in out comfort zone to rely on, but sometimes things need to be shaken up, and I think this did that rather well. Not everything has a happy ending, and the closest people can and will betray you as Bob pointed out. It was a neat little subversion of tropes, but it's not the end of the world. I think you do a discredit to kids and teenagers by insinuating that they might not be able to handle it. True things aren't that great, but I hardly think something like this coming from a Disney movie is anything to be worried about. I also don't agree that this is anything to be likened to that Abortion of a film Man of Steel.

This is something that a lot of shows have been doing lately, and frankly, I think they need to. Change has to come in some form or another otherwise you get stagnation and rot. I'm NOT in any way a fan of the concept "Tough Love" or any stupid twisting of its meaning. I think we need what you mentioned, but I don't think it should remain dominant in the children's sphere of entertainment. I've heard the saying, "Nothing will destroy a happy child more than his first day of school." Now, that saying is a bit of stretch, but it does have application. A sheltered child finally getting thrown into the world by way of school is going to learn things. Sometimes things go to shit, sometimes you don't get what you want, sometimes things don't go as planned, and sometimes bad things happen to good people. The world is less idealic. And I think having a little taste of that in our kids entertainment as a cautionary tale isn't so bad, in fact it's good, and more importantly, its wise.

Heck, MLP even did this with the finale of its first season. All the 6 main ponies were so hyped for this Ball and they all had their dreams and ideas of what would happen when they finally got there. When it happened, every single one had a crappy time and many of their plans and desires backfired. It wasn't shit, but it certainly wasn't ideal and what they wanted. Learning to cope with something like that is healthy.
 

drisky

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Therumancer said:
I think the movies still plenty optimistic considering how happy the ending still is. Kristoph learns to lower his cynism about humanity, Anna gets a more healthy relationship then her original one (even if Hans was the kind of guy he pretended to be), Elsa can use her powers and be loved for it, and Olaf gets to experience summer without dying. Everything ends positively, they just had to go though bad times to get there. Its the same kind of struggle that any main character form the disney renaissance has to go though, they are all a long ways form snow white. Aladins attempts to be someone he's not drives everyone around him away. Simba's abandonment of realty and responceablity nearly causes the destruction of his entire homeland. Hell Hunchback is way darker, in which Quasi has to take the entire movie to realize that Frolo is poisoning his mind with self hatetred, and in the end is denied the love of his life and has to move on. But in all the movies form the era the characters have to overcome a struggle and better themselves which makes the rewards in the end so much sweater. I don't think putting in a betrayal makes the struggle to harsh, the movie is far from depressing.
 

RamenDragon

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Given the Disney canon, the behavior of the character in question, everything, the twist totally WOULD have worked on me had they not drawn so much damn attention to it. Having characters openly speculate about a potential twist is a good way of making that twist pretty unsurprising once it follows through. I feel like the film showed its hand a little more than it should have. On the other hand, it'll totally blow kids away and, as your article points out, the deeper connotations really mean a lot. Still a great movie on the whole - wonderful cast, good music, visually wonderful. I hadn't noticed that about the LGBT thing, but it totally fits - adds an even more progressive read to what was already a considerably progressive movie for Disney. Huge step up from Tangled IMO.
 

Therumancer

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Nov 28, 2007
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Ishal said:
Therumancer said:
Disney should be doing. Disney is supposed to be... I don't know... like audio-visual comfort food.
And ya know, funny thing about comfort food, it sometimes can give you diarrhea.

It's great to have the old stuff in out comfort zone to rely on, but sometimes things need to be shaken up, and I think this did that rather well. Not everything has a happy ending, and the closest people can and will betray you as Bob pointed out. It was a neat little subversion of tropes, but it's not the end of the world. I think you do a discredit to kids and teenagers by insinuating that they might not be able to handle it. True things aren't that great, but I hardly think something like this coming from a Disney movie is anything to be worried about. I also don't agree that this is anything to be likened to that Abortion of a film Man of Steel.

This is something that a lot of shows have been doing lately, and frankly, I think they need to. Change has to come in some form or another otherwise you get stagnation and rot. I'm NOT in any way a fan of the concept "Tough Love" or any stupid twisting of its meaning. I think we need what you mentioned, but I don't think it should remain dominant in the children's sphere of entertainment. I've heard the saying, "Nothing will destroy a happy child more than his first day of school." Now, that saying is a bit of stretch, but it does have application. A sheltered child finally getting thrown into the world by way of school is going to learn things. Sometimes things go to shit, sometimes you don't get what you want, sometimes things don't go as planned, and sometimes bad things happen to good people. The world is less idealic. And I think having a little taste of that in our kids entertainment as a cautionary tale isn't so bad, in fact it's good, and more importantly, its wise.

Heck, MLP even did this with the finale of its first season. All the 6 main ponies were so hyped for this Ball and they all had their dreams and ideas of what would happen when they finally got there. When it happened, every single one had a crappy time and many of their plans and desires backfired. It wasn't shit, but it certainly wasn't ideal and what they wanted. Learning to cope with something like that is healthy.
The thing is though that there are plenty of other sources that do exactly what Frozen did, and far better, without relying on existing tropes by the production company to make the central "deception" work on the audience. It's been like that for years. My point is that Disney's work represents what you compare those other works too, being the comfort zone other things are supposed to play around with, not to play around with themselves. Disney hasn't ever really been truly stagnant as it does what it does well, and has been able to make a bundle year after year pretty much without fail. "Frozen" seems to be the result of some greedy, cigar smoking exec, sitting there and looking at darker, youth oriented literature, and saying "you know, we'll make a bundle doing that, and when we do it we'll shock people and get even more attention because nobody will expect it from us". In the process entirely missing the entire point of their own product and what made them successful to begin with.

To be honest when I use "Superman" as an example, I'm not just talking about the most recent movie. I'm talking about all the attempts to do this to the character, starting with the whole "Death and Return of Superman" where he was supposed to come back as a more grimdark character even after getting his powers back (before that we had black clad superman with guns... I kid you not). It didn't work. Recently in the comics the most recent DC reboot has had Superman being a much more angst driven character as well (or they did) less of a paragon, and certainly not entirely for "Truth, Justice, and The American Way" which is the defining tagline for the character. The of course we had "Superman Returns" which was pretty much "let's make an angst ridden metrosexual superman who returns to earth and faces relationship issues with what's supposed to be his perfect true love, to show how not-so-super he is despite all the powers", then of course we had "Man Of Steel" which as you pointed out was kind of an abortion right from the trailers, instead of Superman being a respected icon that inspires everyone, let's have a superman coming out of hiding and dealing with a world that doesn't really trust or respect him, and get into his head over that as a central element of the movie. Superman more or less trying to prove himself to the world, as opposed to being an ideal for everyone else to aspire to.

Those changes largely happened because of the success of dark comic stories, the ones about fairly brutal heroes with emotional problems, angst, and bad home lives, who aren't loved for saving everyone, and certainly aren't the types of guys to finish a story by replacing a toppled American Flag on top of the capital building, or have cheering crowds happy to see them when they fly by to save the day, relieved by the mere sight of the hero. The thing is those characters work because of guys like Superman who show it the idealistic way and have it work, no strings attached. Those stories lose meaning without anything to act as a counterpoint to.

What's more stories like say "Irredeemable" and one version of "Supreme Power" (which was a reboot of Squadron Supreme, Hyperion being Marvel's version of Superman in an alternate earth) asked a lot of the questions these movies did. Indeed the whole point of "Irredeemable" is that their version of Superman, called The Plutonian, basically goes off his rocker due to everyone being scared of him and plotting behind his back because he's so powerful. He eventually pretty much gives them what they are afraid of. In "Supreme Power" Hyperion is pretty much mistrusted by the same government that he works for because of his power, and it covers a lot of the same material, although I don't believe he ever goes off the deep end (though I don't remember finishing that series, which for all I know could still be ongoing). Those stories work largely because of the default "Real Superman" and how he functions and the fact that it works for him, and how he remains iconic and more or less pure even when he runs into concepts like "Department K" or finds out that guys like Batman have contingency plans in place to potentially kick his butt. Indeed he meets evil versions of himself that have gone off the deep end, and comes away from it more or less unphased in the long run. The way how Superman shakes it all off, and still saves the day, remaining more or less untouched is pretty much the essence of the character and what makes him Superman.

When it comes to Disney, it's pretty much the "Superman" of youth entertainment. The other stuff by other companies which subvert it's tropes, the "Irredeemable" and "Supreme Power" equivilents in kids animation, are already out there. When the original does it, well it's not cool, because in part people can enjoy the weird spins on the format because they know the "real" version is out there still.

To be honest, if Disney wanted to make some bucks off the subversion of their own tropes as opposed to just letting everyone else do it, it should have used another label ad maintained distance from it. Disney has a few sub-companies just for that kind of thing already (I could be wrong, but I believe Miramax and Dimension are both associated with Disney for example). Much like how DC decided to use "Wildstorm" (which will be much missed) to play around with concepts like "What if The Justice League decided to try and rule a twisted version of earth under their own high principles using force, dictating terms to nations both big and small, and acting as global enforcers of their own declarations and policies", and "What if Superman and Batman were gay lovers?". "The Authority" (one of my favorite,
now sadly defunct, titles) was pretty much that in a nutshell. Had DC had The Justice League pretty much take over the USA directly people would have freaked out, ditto for having Superman and Batman get hitched (despite the fact that some people would probably cheer in the short term for political reasons), that's why all of these tropes were subverted under an entirely different label and in no way associated with the main continuity in any way for a very long time (and later when they brought Stormwatch into the main DC universe, or so I heard, they apparently sterilized almost the entire thing of pretty much everything Wildstorm-like with nuclear fire to keep away the taint).

At the end of the day we'll have to agree to disagree, at the end of the day Disney did it, and they did it under their own label. I don't think it was a good idea, but at the same time I don't think it's the end of the world as long as they don't make a habit out of it. Unlike Bob I do not think it's especially praiseworthy. Released under almost any other label (Disney owned or not) I wouldn't be saying this, I pretty much feel that like Superman, Disney's movies belong on a very specific pedestal, being perfect as they are, for what they are meant to do.
 

freakonaleash

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Jan 3, 2009
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As someone who grew up watching those old Disney princess movies, its pretty amazing to see a movie where they go and reverse themselves on a lot of the central themes they had established over the years.
 

Meander112

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Jan 26, 2010
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There was one thing that happened that hasn't been mentioned, but I loved seeing it in the movie. At the end, Kristoff deliberately states to Anna that he would like to kiss her. It's a minor thing, but promoting the idea of proactive consent is also quite outside the box and I loved seeing it.
 

Ukomba

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I'm starting to realize that it's impossible to tell this kind of story without this parallel being drawn.