Film #152: Frozen (2013)

frozenDirectors: Chris Buck & Jennifer Lee
Language: English
Length: 102 minutes
Watched on: 30 June 2015 (2 of 3 on my flight to the UK)

Ahh… Frozen. Frozen was everywhere, for a while, back in early 2014 or so. It appealed to the Japanese market so much that at one point the top three in the Japanese charts were Let It Go, the Japanese dubbed version of Let It Go, and a dance remix. It was a little crazy for a while as fever for the movie (here it’s titled Ana and the Snow Queen, confusingly) gripped Japan.

At that time, as I’m sure you’d perhaps expect, I was put off so much that I avoided it outright, mostly. So I finally decided to give it a try when I was on the long flight back to the UK in July, more than a year later.

I don’t think I’ll have to recap the story too much here, but for all the pictures, songs and character snippets I heard, I still didn’t have a very clear idea of the story before I sat down to watch it – in that case, I probably should recap it! The two main characters are Elsa and Ana. Elsa is the “Snow Queen” of the Japanese title. She has the magical gift to turn anything into ice, but she suppresses it after accidentally turning her sister into an icy statue. She also shuts herself off from the outside world and refuses to come into contact with her sister. Naturally, this all comes to a head at her coming-of-age ball, when she finally snaps at Ana. At that point, she runs off into the wilderness and constructs a castle for herself from ice – but this sends the entire kingdom into a deep winter. Ana then chances after her, to indicate the power of sisterly love, or something.

I found a lot of the themes of the movie a bit hokey, as demonstrated by that particular theme. Ana also falls in ill-advised love with an untrustworthy man, who she foolishly entrusts the kingdom to when she leaves to find her sister. Fortunately, it’s fully explored within the context of the movie that this is a stupid idea, especially as the guy turns into the movie’s big baddie. It’s suggested that the love between Ana and Elsa is a kind of feminist theme, as it shows women looking out for each other and not having to rely upon a man, although I remain unconvinced by this argument in itself – I could perhaps be convinced, if the movie didn’t also show Ana consistently relying on a man for the entire rest of the movie, or if the sisters hadn’t been locked away in a castle without significant human contact for most of her life.

Aside from the main story, there are the songs, as this is very much a typical Disney film. Let It Go is of course the most famous, but there are some more as well, and many that for me were new. Let It Go is so well-known that I could already sing it without having even seen the movie – although the only other one I knew about was the one about building a snowman from near the start.

There are also the side characters – I liked Olaf a lot, actually, and he acted as a kind of comic relief for much of the movie. The Norse-looking guy talking to his reindeer was also funny. They did serve to round out the movie, and I appreciated them for that.

Having seen the movie, I can’t say I quite understand why the movie has become so popular. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s a good movie, but it wasn’t worth the hype at the end of the day, and I do suspect that it’s mostly popular because anything by Disney would be popular anyway. In terms of recommendation, I’d say yeah, go for it. It’s worth watching.

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