Frozen – just another princess movie?

[No major Frozen spoilers below, but it will make more sense if you’ve already seen the movie.]

I found myself with the kids in front of Frozen without having seen a single trailer, plot synopsis or review. I went in cold (too lazy to avoid the pun). But as usual with princess movies, particularly singing ones, I found it irritating. Later I went in search of reviews and blogs that would validate my impression and found few. Everyone loves it apparently. It’s a feminist masterpiece apparently. It turns traditional princess themes on their heads. Apparently. And I found myself getting more and more irritated.

Because Frozen did none of these things for me. Frozen didn’t annoy me so much for lack of faith to the masterful fairy tale, The Snow Queen. I can cope with that disappointment. Sisterly love and two female leads on the big screen are rare. This is very encouraging (although to be honest, I found the two ugly sisters in Cinderella had more of a bond). I’m not denying that the film had many positive messages and heartwarming moments. There were two girls yes, hooray! But both were flawed and fragile – one physically and one emotionally – in a rather stereotypical way. Here are the take home messages I got from each sister:

ELSA (older sibling with magical ability to turn things to ice)

-Give a girl a superpower and she will be completely incompetent at using it.
-If a female has a special skill it will be a curse.
-Also, girls are not teachable so lock her up for 18 years.
-Hide your talents or pursue them in secret.
-The only way to portray a woman as strong is to make her violent. (She mortally wounds her sister. Twice.)
-Show your talents and you’ll end up in a cold frozen place. Alone.
-Losing control of your emotions makes bad things happen. Women need to be taught to suppress emotions for their own good.
-You may be happy in your cold tower singing an inspirational song about freedom; meanwhile you froze an entire town and everyone is suffering.
-Strong woman will end up unhappy and alone.

ANNA (younger sibling, travels to find and rescue sister)

-Sings starry-eyed song about being incomplete without a man, finding a handsome prince and getting married.
-No need to remove your evening dress if embarking on a quest to save someone in the arctic circle.
-Girls going on a trek need a hunky male love interest companion.
-Even if girls are feisty and brave, they will still spend much of the movie injured/dying/needing male assistance.
-Never actually rescued her sister. Largely incompetent. (Was rescued by ice cutter he man several times.)
-Silly girls will always ignore the nice guy and fall for the villain.

When Anna’s health is in peril, she can be saved (surprise surprise) by a kiss from a handsome prince. She pursues this for lengthy periods of the movie. Sure, there’s a twist at the end, but it doesn’t negate the overwhelming film time spent on this tired trope.


Let’s distract the feminists with a sisterhood reunited scene, but basically the good princess will end up happy ever after with the good guy. The strong princess won’t be popular with the boys though. Make your choice girly.

Despite the much lauded twist, Frozen’s climax does indeed, yet again, involve a man coming to the rescue of a starry eyed princess. I found it to be a rather traditional princess movie complete with negative female stereotypes. If this is the most feminist animated feature ever made, I despair.

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2 Responses to Frozen – just another princess movie?

  1. I loved Frozen, but I completely get where you’re coming from with this review. It does not so much turn the old princess formula on its head as tilt it slightly in the right direction, and if you take Anna to be the lead the final scene is really no different to “Tangled”, which was certainly never credited as being a feminist masterpiece. However, if you compare it to the stock standard Disney princess films of the past you must be able to appreciate how far we’ve come. Snow White, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty were so perfect in their day because they just flitted about cleaning, singing, avoiding spindles and never, ever complaining. By this measure even Belle from Beauty and the Beast is feminstly progressive (I think I just invented a world). Have you seen Brave? I think Merida is more the strong, independent and determined female lead you were hoping for. I know Anna was a very flawed character, but again, compared to the pristine wholesomeness of the afore mentioned princesses it’s an improvement. I can even accept her impromptu engagement to Hans, after all isn’t that what happened with Romeo and Juliette, the so called Greatest Love Story of All Time (puke, as if. I doubt it would have lasted a year.) I have written a personal response to Frozen too and I’d love you to take a look at it.
    I think Frozen is part of changing the world for the better. It’s not perfect. The flaws you have highlighted are real but we live in a world where someone like Joan River’s is paid to make the most atrocious comments about people so maybe in the same way that Bambi is credited with promoting the peace and love of the hippy movement (not so much the drugs and sex stuff) let’s hope that Frozen coupled with intelligent adults explaining the flaws will lead to a more empowered generation of females, and males, and LGQBTQs.

  2. Thanks so much for your reply. I think your review and take on Frozen is just brilliant.

    I agree there has been progress, even from Disney, but *sigh* it is slow. I can live with sexist stereotypes in the adult world, but get angry when these views are inflicted upon children.

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