Frozen vs Frozen II

Two very successful movies from Disney. The first was so successful that they made a second. Most people say that Frozen is the better movie, and certainly it has the catchier songs (including “that one”). However, I prefer the second movie. Before going on, the artistry and imagery in the first movie is superb. Winter is truly beautiful. However, despite my enjoyment of both movies, I have two reasons for preferring the second:

Firstly, there are plot holes in the first movie. (No, I don’t care about detail flaws in the animation graphics.) Principally, what happened to the rest of the government when Elsa runs off? It’s been three years since her parents vanished and someone has been running the country since then. Clearly not Elsa. (And that’s another plot hole: centuries ago Europeans realized that you crown the successor immediately – the age of the child be-damned, you still crown a 3-year-old. There might be a regent or regency council, but you crown that infant right away. The political instability and turmoil that results if you don’t doesn’t bear thinking about. And Elsa isn’t even an infant. Back to the main point.) Elsa would have had a regent (or more than one), officials, councellors, experts, etc. There would have been a whole machinery of government. And that machinery

a) Could run the country for a few days, even weeks or months. They’ve been doing it for three years already.

b) Would shut out everyone who isn’t part of the government of Arendelle. That includes the Mayor of Weaseltown and Prince Hans. As soon as Elsa vanishes, those two (and many others) would be pushed out of the palace and doors would be slammed shut. While there was absolutely no valid reason for shutting the palace doors to isolate Anna during her childhood (and even isolating Elsa is a terrible decision, albeit typical of the attitudes of that era), they would be shut then.

c) Would insist on proper marriage vows, documents and witnesses. Hans unilaterally claiming that he and Anna had exchanged vows would not cut it. No way. No how.

d) Would in the event that Elsa and Anna both die, find a distant relative — cousin, uncle, aunt — to take the throne. Hans would again be shut out. He’s an outsider and isn’t a distant family relative, so the fact that he has royal rank in another country is irrelevant. Especially in the mid to late 1800s, which is the supposed time frame of the movie.

It’s a shame really, because all these problems could have been easily solved with a little creative juggling of the character details and a little tweaking of the plot.

Secondly, and more seriously, Elsa’s famous song (and the actions around it) isn’t about empowerment. Given the context, the message is “I don’t give a damn. I’m hurting people but I don’t care.” That’s not empowerment. That’s callous selfishness. Mind you, given the absolutely horrible parenting decisions made by their parents, we can’t expect Anna and Elsa to be emotionally and socially stable individuals, so perhaps this shouldn’t be an unexpected development.

In particular, while we don’t see anyone die, Elsa turns a pleasant summer evening into a winter wasteland in a matter of minutes. No one is caught out in that storm – on land or at sea? No. Elsa kills people, and she doesn’t care. And even if we suppose the unlikely scenario that everyone does make it to shelter in time, what about the farms? Forget having a harvest that season. (And yes, even Scandinavia has farms.) The local economy is going to be in ruins. She’s the queen, and those people she’s killing and livelihoods she’s wrecking are her subjects.

On the other hand, Elsa’s development in the second movie is about coming into herself, discovering herself, taking her intrinsic birthright, taking responsibility. The songs, especially the key one when she enters the ice cave, are not catchy. Droves of 10-year-old girls aren’t going to sing the song until they drive their parents mad. But it is much better message. (I’ll ignore the one line that says “The rules never made sense to me”.)

As for the relationship between Elsa and Anna, of course Anna can’t follow Elsa to Atahlallen. Elsa only barely succeeded surviving the journey when she didn’t have to look out for Anna. Then at the end, Elsa has gone so far into what she really is and has a logical successor: abdicating the throne makes perfect sense.

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