[Disclaimer: Plot spoiler warning!]
This movie was a delight, with an original story set in beautiful Scandinavia, complete with some unexpected twists and elements not usually seen in a Disney movie. Elsa is a princess born with the unusual ability to turn anything into ice, a skill she develops while playing with her little sister Anna. However, she discovers that she loses control of her talent when she becomes overemotional. This results in an accident in which Anna’s brain is frozen. The magical gnomes are able to unfreeze her brain but must remove Anna’s memory of Elsa’s ability. The overcautious King and Queen seclude the royal family and keep Elsa locked up, even keeping her away from Anna.
As Elsa attempts to keep her ability restrained, she becomes both physically and emotionally inaccessible. Anna, deprived of her sister’s companionship, longs for love and human camaraderie. She thinks she has found it the day that the palace gates are open for Elsa’s coming of age and crowning. But this day teaches Elsa that by keeping her emotions and powers completely restrained for so long, she has completely lost control of both. She escapes into the mountains, where she builds her own ice castle and feels free once again, unwittingly unleashing a powerful ice storm on her people. When Anna follows her and tries to get her to stop the ice storm, Elsa once again loses control of her emotions and powers, sending ice through Anna’s heart. Thus the movie teaches the seemingly contradictory concept that we must express our emotions while also controlling them.
The magical gnomes tell Anna that the damage can only be undone through an act of true love. She assumes that this must be romantic love, but herein lies some of the movie’s surprises. First, she finds that what she thought was “love at first sight” was deceiving (a lesson not usually taught in animated movies). Second, the love that Anna is looking for to save her does not come from a romantic admirer. Rather, it comes from within, as she risks everything to save Elsa, and both their hearts are thawed. In the end, the sisters save each other from the damage that was done by keeping secrets.
Whereas animated films tend to portray heroes as attractive and villains as ugly and scary looking, this film teaches children that people are not always what they seem. Another very different element of this film is that the characters are neither purely evil nor purely good. The complicated character of Elsa is her own enemy in this film, depicting the internal struggle that is part of the human condition. The love of her sister is what helps her to use her unusual power for good in the end.
Because of the romantic elements and the focus on love between sisters, this film will primarily attract a female audience. However, the snow monster, talking snowman, and talking reindeer will appeal to young boys. The unexpected turns in the plot will keep adult viewers interested as well. Altogether this is a beautifully produced movie with an original story that is appropriate for families.