Why I Love . . . {Elsa (+ Frozen in general)}


I watched Frozen a few times earlier this year, and it really reinforced how much I like it and what a good movie I think it is.

Specifically, what struck me again is how relatable Elsa is for me, and what a stellar treatment of anxiety the makers give us through her.

I struggle with a very specific anxiety that's difficult ⎼ or well-nigh impossible ⎼ to talk about with others because it's of such a nature that I imagine others would recoil from me if they knew about it.  I'm not the only one who has grappled with this specific fear, but it's not one that's widely talked about and one of the tricks I think Satan uses to keep me afraid is making me feel like I am the only one.  (Thankfully, that doesn't tend to work that much anymore because, again, I know for a fact that I am not. ;))

And in Elsa, I see myself.



Elsa is terrified ⎼ terrified ⎼ that one day she might hurt or even kill her loved ones.  She has this power that she didn't ask for and that she doesn't think she can control.  It makes her different from everyone else she knows.  And the harder she tries to fight her fear, the more all-encompassing it seems to become.

Folks, this is anxiety.  This is real, mind-clouding, paralyzing, existential terror.  Worrying that one day you might lose control of your own soul, so to speak ⎼ worrying that the people you love most might be hurt by or because of you; that you might "turn dark" out of the blue and against your will ⎼ that is a different kind of fear, right there.

Not okay, edit-maker, NOT OKAY.

Watching Elsa is subtly, brilliantly familiar ⎼ because she's all of us who struggle with this.  Desperately wanting to enjoy small, simple pleasures, but constantly worrying that if she lets her guard down for too long, catastrophe might overtake her?  Check.  Having a vibrant personality and active sense of humor and fun, but having that stifled again and again by fear and the effort of keeping everything under wraps?  Check.  Clinging to a specific object/practice (the gloves) as a coping mechanism??  Check.

So.  Anyway.  Elsa is a brilliantly written and produced character and I rest my case.

On to the movie in general.


Frozen's aesthetic makes me very happy.  (And I'm about to go full-on nerd, here.  Ye've been warned.)  It draws on all the ideological beauty of winter (isolation, clarity, crystallinity, purity, etc. and so forth) and uses it to frame an important story. 

It's just a cozy movie, full of nighttime scenes and crackling fires and mossy stones that turn into supremely unhelpful (albeit affectionate) trolls. 

Additionally:
  • It has great music.
  • It has a fun (and, more importantly, small) group of main characters.
  • It centers around the sister dynamic between Elsa and Anna, and the love story takes a backseat plus is healthy to boot. :D

also it gives rise to fan art like this and HOW THE HECK DO YOU PEOPLE DO THIS

Frozen is a wonderful movie and absolutely deserves to be considered alongside Tangled and that is all I have to say about that.  (Y'know, for now.)

Comments

  1. YES I love Frozen sooo much and Elsa is part of why. Excellent wording, friend, I liked this a lot <3

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  2. My one problem with Frozen is that everyone thought it was a barrier breaker for Disney films. The first movie that did’t have a man saving a woman (Mulan, Pocahontas, Belle), the first movie to deal with sisters (Lilo and Stitch), The first movie not to have a romance (Brave). I know my Disney films and I can guarantee that Frozen was not a first for anything in the Disney franchise.

    However, the way you wrote about Elsa has changed my former negative opinion about. I always found her to be selfish for abandoning her people and her sister. Her country needed her and for her to run away for fear of being judged by her subjects I found to be cowardly.

    Yet, fear and anxiety will push people to a limit that they can’t handle. Elsa thought she was alone, she was scared she would hurt Anna again, afraid of failing her parents and her people. Once she overcame that fear, she knew her abilities could be controlled. And she overcame that fear when she let Anna back into her life.

    There are certain parts of Let It Go that I don’t care for, such as a selfish attitude about self happiness and not caring how you as a person can affect others around you.

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    1. I understand why people got frustrated with Frozen--or, rather, with people's preoccupation with it. Because you're right: people did make a lot of false assertions about it, such as that it was a "groundbreaking" film for Disney (which it wasn't). I also think that the sheer amount of Frozen-dumping that went on in pop culture after its release--from "Let It Go" being played non-stop on every store radio to kitsch-y merchandise--went along way toward turning people off from it. Which I also get, because it was overhyped. But that doesn't change its inherent value in any way. It's like, "Amazing Grace" is possibly the best and most powerful song ever written, but if it were played literally everywhere, in every situation, with countless reinventions, ALL THE TIME, then it'd get real old real fast. It'd still be a wonderful song, but it would have over-saturated us. I think that's what happened with Frozen.

      Oh, cool! I'm glad you don't think as badly of Elsa now. I get what you mean, about her abandoning her country. But on the other hand, if she's spent her whole life trying to control her powers and failing to undo whatever catastrophe they create, then it could also be looked at (in her mind) as the MORE responsible thing to do, leaving so she doesn't cause more trouble.

      Yeah, I know there are a few lyrics in that song that have rubbed people the wrong way, and I agree. "No right, no wrong" is a little dubious, as the Duke of Weaseltown would say. XD

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    2. I think Let It Go is supposed to sound selfish. Back when Elsa was supposed to be the villian, Let It Go (albeit with some lyric changes) was her "villian song". I think you're supposed to realize that, while she thinks she's "breaking free", she's really hurting the people around her. That's why she says she was a "fool" when she finds out she made things worse. 😊

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    3. That's a fascinating perspective!

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  3. THIS POST IS AWESOME. I've never really liked Frozen. Part of it is that if anything is hyped up my brain automatically decides to not like it. Bad brain. I absolutely LOVE winter, it is my favorite season ever, so people always ask why I don't like this. I think they main reason for me is that I have sisters and we are super close, and just the thought of Elsa forcing herself to be separate from Anna makes me really, really, really sad. Now that I've watched it more, I have realized that because of that it makes their reunion ever more special at the end. I really liked reading your thoughts!!!

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    1. Frozen was definitely over-hyped, and I understand why that turned some people off it. But I do think that in its own right it's a fantastic movie. :D

      I'm glad you liked it! :)

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  4. This only makes me want to watch it more!! Especially because winter is my favorite time of year and I need to get back to writing my Beauty and the Beast/Snow Queen/East of the Sun, West of the Moon retelling.

    Now I shall haunt the library 'til they give me this movie.

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    1. Ooh, would this be your first time watching it? I'd be interested to see what you think! (Also, your retelling sounds really cool, I gotta say. <3)

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    2. Rats, so that's that movie I was going to look for! Darn my hide! But that's what I get for not writing things down!

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  5. OKAY BUT THE EXISTENTIAL ANXIETY DREAD IS REAL, THO.

    Thank you so much for this beautiful shout-out to the first Disney movie I ever watched . . . and also, the movie that helped me realize I had genuine, um, Issues.

    #mentalhealthawareness #issoimportant

    #FrozenForever

    <3

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  6. Yes, I love Frozen!! I never thought of Elsa in this way, but it makes perfect sense, and I'm so glad that her journey might be able to help you and others. It's so imporant to know we're not alone. *hugs*

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    1. Thanks, Melissa! You're right, it's very important. *hugs back*

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  7. I've just stumbled upon your blog and am enjoying it very much!
    I must admit that I haven't really thought that deeply about Disney movies. As a kid, I didn't watch them because I genuinely wasn't interested in them at all and so its only been in my later teens/adulthood that I've begun to see them. I guess I've always seen them as kids movies, but I really loved your breakdown of Elsa. I've often thought she had a host of mental health issues (no doubt mostly caused by her parents and their ridiculous methods of dealing with stuff), but I'd never narrowed it down specifically to anxiety, yet it seems so obvious when I think about. I love the Broadway musical version of Frozen and in that Elsa has a song called "Monster" which I think you'd really like and it perfectly illustrates everything you were talking about here.

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    1. Thank you so much, Chelsea! I'm thrilled you're here. :D

      OKAY BUT SERIOUSLY EVERYBODY DEALT WITH THIS ISSUE IN THE WORST POSSIBLE WAY. XD Which I suppose is sort of the whole point of the plot, to show that that WAS a very unhealthy reaction on the part of their parents and Elsa herself. But still. :-P (Also, that one "grandfather troll" guy?? Not impressed, buddy. Not impressed At All.)

      Oh, ooh, yes! I actually meant to reference both "Monster" and "Dangerous to Dream" in this post and then forgot to do so. But yes, both wonderful, illuminating songs!

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  8. I really APPRECIATE this post, because this is something I've never been able to grasp before. See, I always enjoyed Frozen, but I never "got" Elsa... in fact, I found her totally unrelatable and I much preferred Anna (to whom I could relate). It doesn't help that Elsa and the whole "Let It Go" song was majorly overplayed - perhaps if it hadn't been blasted out of appreciation I would have liked her character a bit more. I didn't dislike her, exactly - I just found her a little annoying because I didn't UNDERSTAND her. (A lot like Anna, I found myself asking her - "What are you so AFRAID of?!") And I really struggled to understand her side to it. That is why I really appreciate your post, because now I can understand where the scriptwriters were coming from and why her character is what it is. It makes so much sense. And while I will say I don't personally struggle with that kind of anxiety myself, I respect that others do and I empathize with them. So thank you for clearing that up for me!!

    But I agree, the music, the aesthetic and ESPECIALLY the fact that the movie centres on sister-sister relationship rather than a romantic one is FANTASTIC. I approve. :D

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    1. Oh, I'm so glad this post brought up a different perspective!

      It's really interesting: I actually relate a lot to both Elsa AND Anna. I love how both of them were written and produced. :)

      Thanks so much for commenting! :)

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