Friday, February 28, 2014

The Meaning Behind "Frozen"

The boys have been obsessed with Disney's new movie Frozen. For those of you who haven't seen this movie, you might want to stop reading now because this contains spoilers.

Art copyright believed to belong to Walt Disney Pictures. Origin

The story is basically about a princess, Elsa, who can magically create ice and snow, but after an accident she is forced to hide this ability away until she can control it. Her childhood motto, "conceal it, don't feel it, don't let it show" underpins her entire existence. She even hides from her younger sister, Anna, creating distance between them.

Eventually, Elsa's secret is revealed in a dramatic and negative way. She then runs away to live her life in freedom, in the snow-covered mountains. Anna goes after her, looking for a way to get rid of Elsa's magic ice that is now covering the town, and searching for a way to connect with her sister.

The ending, and moral of the story, is that love can melt a frozen heart. Anna needed an act of true love to fix her heart, frozen after being accidentally struck by magical ice, and she believed that she needed true love's kiss. But it was actually the love of her sister, Elsa, who broke the spell and restored their town to its correct season.

When I first saw this movie, I thought it was cute, although a little bit cheesy. But I guess all Disney movies do need that bit of saccharine, and showing the power of love in all its forms is a great message to send young viewers.

As I watched it more and more (and more....I told you, the boys love this movie), it finally dawned on me that Elsa's powers were actually metaphorical, and there were far deeper meanings present in the story than I had noticed at first. Yeah, I'm the best English student in the world. Only took me how long to work this out?!

I think there can be a few specific interpretations for Elsa's powers. One that seems to fit is that Elsa is gay. It's mentioned in the film that she is born with these powers. She is different, and she is instructed to hide her difference away by trying to repress it. I know that's a message that a lot of gay people receive. This never worked well for her, and eventually she ran away where she could be free to be herself. Subsequently, she was a lot happier for it, and created a magnificent ice palace (and somehow made a dress out When she finally accepted herself for who she is, she was finally able to control the powers that had ruled her for her entire life.

However, my first guess was that Elsa had a problem that could be seen negatively, but if she learned to work with it and accept it, could work to her advantage. I was thinking along the lines of autism, which society often labels a disability, but if it's viewed as just a different way of thinking rather than a disadvantage, can actually be more like a gift. Rather than trying to force people into perfect boxes, we need to learn to accept people as they are.

This interpretation can work with anything, really. Elsa is everyone's princess. She represents everyone who ever felt different, everyone who never fit in. She's the one who was told to conceal it, don't feel it, don't let it show. She's the one who tried so hard to "be the good girl you always have to be". The metaphor actually works better in a more general way. It's open so that people can freely make their own interpretation and relate to Elsa on a very personal level.

Elsa shows that being yourself is the best way to live. She learns to control and work with her power, bringing beauty and joy to everyone around her.

But, we can't forget another very important character: her sister, Anna. I think it's really important to notice that Anna always accepted and loved her sister. She never shunned her. She was never afraid of her. When Elsa physically hid from Anna, Anna never gave up trying to connect with her sister. When Elsa's powers were revealed, Anna wanted to help her sister. When Elsa ran away, Anna ran right after her. Elsa was so convinced that she had to hide away from people that she even hid away from the one person who loved her unconditionally.

Frozen is far from a simple cartoon for kids. It can teach us many things about love and acceptance. Acceptance of others, and acceptance of ourselves. And I love the Trolls: how many nuggets of wisdom do they come out with, and they're completely adorable! What a wonderful modern fairytale for today's children: catchy songs, stunning visuals and beautiful messages for them to internalize, making this film an instant classic.


  1. I don't think Disney went out with the attempt to tell this story as a metaphor for homosexuality. Having said that I don't disagree with you. I think this is a story for anyone that is different and society makes them feel as though they should hide. In the end Disney had been looking for a way to tell this Hans Christian Anderson tale for years. It's a well told story and I guess all that matters is what each person took away with them.

    1. Thanks for the comment! I totally agree that the metaphor works best in an open way, so that each viewer can make their own interpretation. I thought that homosexuality might fit really well and be especially relevant, since same-sex marriage is such a hot topic in the media right now. It works well as an example, anyway :)

  2. Wow! Sounds like a great movie! Disney has a special way of spreading their message to all generations, my favorite has always been Beauty and the Beast. I have a little 5 year old friend that is going through a difficult time, she is a different kind of girl, a free spirited kind of child. She has just moved to a new home and is going to a new school. I asked her if she has made a new friend and she told me "YES, her name is Elsa". Her brother rolled his eyes and said that Elsa is a character in the movie Frozen. Your write up has really opened my eyes to what this simple statement could mean. It seems perhaps she, at the tender age of 5 years old, can already identify herself through the character of Elsa. Thank you for this eloquent write up, you are a talented writer and have a very insightful mind!

    1. Thank you so much for your lovely comment! I agree, Disney movies are timeless. Beauty and the Beast is my favourite too, but Frozen has really grown on me as well! I hope your little friend doesn't have too much difficulty in her new home and school. Children can be very wise; I wonder if she does identify with Elsa because she recognizes the feeling of being 'different'? I wish you all the best!

  3. I think that Elsa's powers are a metaphor for negative emotions. She was cold because she was told to control them. Ice queen. Emotionally avoidance. Unable to connect with her sister. So many of us try to resist certain emotions because we're born into a society that teaches us pain, anger, sadness, etc us bad. So she learns to repress these emotions and the harder she fights to keep them in, the stronger and more destructive and powerful they become. She had no other choice but to accept her "powers" when she had nothing left. The more she let them go, the more she accepted them as herself and became whole again. When she became whole, she radiated the love and her powers began to create good things. It's not about letting it go so it can be controlled. It's letting go of the fight to control the uncontrollable. It's accepting everything and everyone as it is. Unconditional love. Anna' s falling in love with the first man she meets shows the damage done by an emotionally avoidant sister. But the movie shows that even the seemingly most impossible circumstances can be overcome by unconditional love which always begins inside us.

  4. I agree with the post above. It's not about homosexuality or anything like this, it can be used by people who are different, though, because it's just a pattern of the meaning.
    "Let it go" - first that comes to mind is buddhism and indeed when Elsa lets go of everything she comes to her true power. That's why it's so universal and teaches to be non-judgemental, not only towards other people but to ourselves. And not to care too much if we truly feel that we're doing the right thing, if we are the kings and queens of ourselves.

  5. Thanks for writing up this post! I was asking a family member of mine today (who is a huge Disney fan) if she believed Disney movies had meaning behind them and she agreed. I talked of my obsession with Frozen and had a few realisations of why loved the movie so much. I have recently found out that I'm an introvert and ever since then everything makes sense. For first time I've felt comfortable with myself because I realised those moments of needing to isolate myself to 'recharge' are normal. When Elsa built her beautiful ice castle I felt a connection to that scene because when I'm by myself I am at my best and have the ability to create beautiful things (I'm a chef and do craft in my spare time). I also feel that my alter ego is Anna as I feel I'm exactly like her when I do get into my moments of being social.
    I understand that you believe Elsa's letting go could be a metaphor for being gay but I guess that's the beauty of being able to open our eyes to see things on a deeper level. To know that there are other people in the world who try to interpret the meaning of this movie has made me feel not so alone and I thank you for that!


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