in which Jo loves Disney.
My favourite Disney film is The Little Mermaid (except for Alice, but Alice is Alice. It doesn’t count.) I think I like it – The Little Mermaid – so much because it’s my Disney film. It’s the first one I can really remember watching, and loving. I got the video tape for Christmas when I was 6 and ¾ (my brother, then aged 20 months got The Rescuers. I can still remember us opening them on Christmas Day) and I thought it was the best thing. I watched it over and over and over. I had the dolls – my Ariel had a removable tail and a purple seashell bra, so cool - and I knew the words to all the songs. When I was in the bath I would pretend to be a mermaid. I tried to make my brother play the role of Flounder but he never quite understood. Prince Eric was the first man I ever loved, aged 6 and ¾ when I hoped an animated Prince would fall in love with me, too. On my desk now, aged 30 and 11 months, I have a small stuffed Sebastian. Sometimes, when I am alone in the office I make him dance across my keyboard singing ‘Under the Sea.’
Disney’s Frozen will be, I think, to my niece Daisy, what The Little Mermaid is for me. She’s only 3 (and ¼) and Frozen is the first film she saw at the cinema. To date, it’s the only film she’s seen at the cinema. And she loves it. All she talks about is Anna & Elsa & Olaf and she sings Let it Go at the top of her little voice, like she really means it. It’s a joy to behold. The other week she tried to get Ian’s attention by yelling ‘YOOHOO! HI FAMILY!’ at the top of her voice – a reference you’ll only understand once you’ve seen the film. When I printed off some Frozen themed colouring pages for her, she did an actual gasp followed by a happy dance. STOP IT WITH THE CUTE.
The other little girl I’m super close to (Lydia, aged 4) has always been a Tangled girl, for the same reason. She cried when I got my hair cut last year because ‘now you can’t be Rapunzel anymore’ and I felt awful. I felt worse when every time we played pretend for weeks afterwards I was relegated to the role of Mother Gothel. MOTHER GOTHEL, I ask you. That hurt. Now though, Tangled may as well not exist. It’s all about Anna and Elsa for her too. Daisy can rock Let it Go; Lyd’s and her rendition of Do You Wanna Build a Snowman make my face hurt with all the smiling.
I missed it at the cinema, but naturally I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Besides, I love these two kids, I love the very bones of the pair of them (some people are worth melting for) and this film matters to them: I needed to get on board. And then, in the car one time, Let it Go came on the radio.
‘Hang on a minute’ I said, over the top of Daisy’s singing, ‘I know that voice. It’s Queen Idina. LEMME SEE THIS FILM.’
I finally (I am always so late to all the things) saw it this weekend.
The Little Mer-whonow?
Just kidding, I still love The Little Mermaid but when it comes to Frozen, I totally get what all the fuss is about, although I reckon my reasons for loving it so hard are completely different to those of Daisy and Lydia.
I love Anna. (Oh, perhaps not so different to Daisy and Lydia after all, then.)
Oh my, I love Anna. She’s so feisty, and awkward and clumsy and real and she says things that she wishes she hadn’t said and then dies a little inside (‘I’m awkward; you’re gorgeous. Wait. What?’) and she knows what’s right and won’t give up on it, and she’s just as strong as her sister, if not stronger. I just, I want to be her friend ok. Hey Anna, come and have a duvet day with Helen and me. I promise it will be fun times. She’s so much more everything than the Disney Princesses that came before. She kicks the animated ass of everybody else. She proves that there is more to being a girl than finding a handsome prince – in fact she goes on a journey with her love interest. This kid doesn’t need saving: she is the role model that I want for Daisy and Lydia and all the other little girls.
I also read another article about how Elsa is being interpreted as a metaphor for homosexuality; that gay people can relate to her character; that Let it Go is swiftly becoming an anthem in the gay community. It was interesting reading. I kind of get it, though: Elsa’s is a story of growing up, becoming your own person and being proud of who you are. It’s a story that matters whoever you are.
I think Elsa is an awesome character; Frozen could have been a different but equally fabulous story if it had been told from her viewpoint I think. I would love to go deeper into that whole tale – the teenage me would quite probably have fanfic’d the life out of her – but the story we actually got, the character. I loved it.
I love how when she breaks free from the world that has been holding her back and misunderstanding her she blossoms, and yeah ok she’s kind of chased out of town which sucks, but she doesn’t let it get on top of her, she doesn’t crumble, she grows. She’s finally free, and independent and she can be the person she knows she is because the cold never bothered her anyway. She’s totally fine on her own: she builds herself this awesome castle and gets a pretty dress and sings that song and you kind of want to punch the air, and you definitely want to sing along with her because she’s some kind of beacon of strength. She gives a big old two fingers to the rest of the world but at the same time she’s kind of fragile, and you’re proud of her and you ache for her and it’s fabulous.
Also, I love that the isolated character isn’t a villain this time.
(Alsoalso, anybody else get Elpheba feels when Elsa is belting out her song on the mountainside? It had a defying gravity air I felt. YOU’RE NEVER GONNA BRING ME DOWN. Etcetera. Love it)
Disney films seem to follow a formula, more often than not: Princess Damsel in Distress is saved by ‘True Love’s Kiss’ (or, in the case of Beauty and the Beast, Beast buys damsel a library. Beast is saved by True Love’s Kiss) point is, these films ,which we all LOVE are generally about true love, romantic love and how it’s pretty much a fix all. They’re about falling in love and living happily ever after and whilst that’s all well and good, I love that Frozen is not your typical love story. Frozen sticks to the age old fairytale theme of true love breaking any curse, but it does it differently. It’s not Kristoff and his love for Anna that saves her, as he races across the frozen fjord. It’s Anna who saves herself, through her true love for her sister.
That’s my favourite, the way it shows that you don’t need a man – even if it’s lovely to fall in love with one and be together for a while (or even ever) you don’t need him to save you and that also, there is so much more to love than boy meets girl –the love for your friends, your family can be just as powerful and just as true. A most excellent message – another one.
This is another thing I loved about Frozen: the way it so blatantly poked fun at Disney films past.Seriously. The scene with Anna and Kristoff where he is all ‘YOU CANT MARRY SOMEONE YOU JUST MET’ is probably one of my favourite in the whole film. Kristoff (and Elsa prior) are quite right. Marrying someone you just met is all kinds of crazy, but how many Disney princesses have done just that? Kristoff is kind of bewildered about it all, because he doesn’t think you can fall into love; love and relationships take work. Kristoff is a ‘fixer-upper’ so whilst Anna goes on about ‘true love,’ Kristoff tries to tell her that it makes no sense, she doesn’t even know Hans. It’s so refreshing, and I lovelovelove that this is a new generation of Disney film, that little girls might stop waiting, like I did, for their handsome prince and their easy come happily ever after because in Frozen, as in life, it ain’t that simple. I love Kristoff. (Also, the way at the end he asks Anna if he can kiss her. High five again Disney, high five.)
You know what else is amazing about Kristoff? He’s voiced by Jonathon Groff. I didn’t know this for sure til the end credits (the whole way through I was all ‘I know that voice dammit. Is it Jon Groff? No, I don’t think it is, but is it’ but my phone was charging on the other side of the room and I couldn’t IMDB it!) I love Jon Groff. I loved him as Jesse St. James in Glee and I loved him as adorable asshat Patrick in Looking (you all watched Looking, right? Please say you did.) But whilst I was all ‘yeah GROFF’ when I realised it was him, I was also a little frustrated, because, way to underuse a gem of a cast member, people. Jonathan Groff is talented and his cute little song with Sven is cute and all but it’s too short and nowhere near enough. I mean, listen to this (the number of times I’ve played this track is embarrassing.) Boy can sing, right? So if you’re going to put him in a musical then please, let him sing.
(Also, HOW CUTE IS THIS??)
Frozen doesn’t end in a ‘happily ever after.’ Frozen is too real for that. It ties up the ends of the story neatly, but it lets you know there’s more to come. Nobody rides off into the sunset. Elsa comes home and is Queen and has to learn to control her power and find the balance between who she needs to be, and who she wants to be – she has to learn how to rule the Kingdom and at the same time still be her; after pretty much a lifetime apart Anna and Elsa have to relearn each other; Anna is starting a brand new relationship with Kristoff, and they’re both less than perfect. It’s a happy ending, but it’s not a happy ever after: it’s the end of the beginning I guess. The story evolves after the film has ended and the film feels like a big step forward.
I love it.
Also that scene where Olaf becomes a giant snowball. Actual gigglesnort. I love Olaf.