By Tara DeLorenzo
For what seems like the first time in forever, Rider brings an outdoor movie to the Residential Quad on Sept. 19 with a showing of Disney’s award-winning animated movie Frozen.
Inspired by Hans Christian Anderson’s The Snow Queen, Frozen is the 53rd animated feature in the Walt Disney Animated Classic series. It set major box-office records. Released Nov. 27, 2013, it has grossed about $1.1 billion at the box office worldwide, reports The Washington Post. According to moviepilot.com, Frozen has become the “fifth most popular film on the All-Time World Box-Office Chart.”
This animated movie also became critically acclaimed, as it took home a handful of awards including Oscars for Best Animated Feature Film and Best Achievement in Music written for Motion Pictures, Original Song with “Let It Go,” and Golden Globe awards in the same categories.
All hype aside, this new instant classic has sparked a debate among some critcs: Is this treasured movie anti-feminist or is it empowering for women?
The movie follows Elsa, a young woman cursed with the power to turn things into ice, and her younger sister, Anna, who risks everything to show Elsa that she is not alone. The biggest twist of the movie is Disney’s redefining of an iconic act of true love: It is not the love of a prince that saves the day, but Anna sacrificing herself for her sister, making the act of true love result from the bond of sisterhood.
This change of structure made many fans see it as a movie focused on the strength of women, breaking down the stereotypical fairy tale and becoming something people believed would be empowering for younger generations.
However, some argue that the movie is anti-feminist, discussing that even though it doesn’t end with a wedding, its characters and plot focus are still flawed. Anna’s goal is true love and Elsa, as blogger Dani Colman writes on medium.com/@directordanic, is “an absolute mess of self-blame and avoidance.” The argument advances as critics like Colman contend that even though Elsa has no love interest, she is the antagonist, and the audience still celebrates Anna’s kiss with Kristoff because she achieves the goal she set from the start: finding “the one.”
“There’s an ongoing problem, I think, with ‘strong female character’ being made synonymous with ‘any fictional woman who isn’t just window dressing,’” said Colman. “There’s a whole argument to be made about why the phrase ‘strong female character’ is a problem in and of itself — after all, do you ever hear a writer set out specifically to write a ‘strong male character’? But I think that that’s what’s going on with Frozen. Because both characters are arguably leads, and neither is reduced to talking production design, we are conditioned to see them both as ‘strong,’ whether or not they actually are. Frozen certainly has two female characters. It even arguably has two lead female characters. But it certainly doesn’t have two strong female characters, and two out of three just isn’t enough to justify all the praise.”
Many disagree and believe Frozen sends a positive message to viewers.
“It’s a story of a girl winning back her agency,” said Rhiannon Thomas on her blog in response to Colman’s piece. “The movie’s key moment is when Anna leaps in front of Hans’ sword, saving her sister’s life. After losing her memories of Elsa’s powers as a young child and spending her whole life since then thinking her sister has rejected her for no reason, she’s finally fully informed, and she acts with that knowledge. Her ‘act of true love’ is something that she does herself, rather than something that is done to her. She’s spent the entire movie looking for love, for some kind of connection, especially with her sister, and now she can act on it. Elsa’s spent the whole movie thinking that she is unloveable. This single act of Anna’s is a turning point for them both. It allows them both to get what they want.”
This argument maintains that Anna and Elsa are independent. While much of the theme is based on love, it is a story about the heroines’ capacity to move forward without being damsels in distress, and about their own self-discoveries.
In any case, this film remains one of the most successful hits of 2013. Frozen is lighthearted and quirky, while still making the viewers look at the concepts of trust vs. dishonesty and love vs. power. The film also looks at the idea of seeing a person for what lies beneath the surface and emphasizes the value of family.
The free screening will be on the Residential Quad at 9 p.m. on Sept. 19. The rain date will be Sept. 20. This event will be the first of four animated films being shown this fall and is a kickoff to the animation film symposium that will take place March 4 and 5.
Printed in the 9/17/14 edition.