I’ve seen Frozen twice in the last week. Once with my five-year-old son, and once with my whole family: kids 5-17, husband, and my 83-year-old mom. It’s me and my daughter’s new favorite animated Disney movie and I could go on for hours about why. I’m not alone in feeling this way. Articles spewing praise and criticism for this movie have been all over the Internet. But this article about Prince Hans being a total D-word-weed over at Jezebel really piqued my interest and gave me something to chat about with my teen daughters and senior citizen mom.
Jezebel thinks it’s a good thing that Disney throws some ice water on the notion of “love at first sight” in this film. If your sister met a guy and announced she was marrying him two hours later, you’d probably have something to say about her proclamations of true love at first sight. But in the context of a Disney princess story, we are conditioned to accept, accept, accept. We immediately swallow the true love line when Prince Hans and Anna meet and sing a duet. Most people I know who saw the film didn’t pause to blink or question the relationship between Anna and Prince Hans. Done. Deal.
But maybe they should have…
My suspicions were raised when I heard Hans & Anna sing “Love is an Open Door“ duet. It’s an adorable song, but the sticky sweet bubblegum pop nature struck a different chord from the songs before. It seemed almost intentionally out of place musically and lyrically in a story that had already taken a more complex and serious tone. My husband called it sooner. He nudged me the minute he heard that Hans was the 13th son — a very potent and very Disney-esque sign that bode badly for the character.
My guard was up, but still my mind tried to make more traditional Disney plot line sense out of the twist. Would Hans fall in love with Anna’s sister Elsa, treating us to a double-wedding ending? Or would that be too predictable?
Turns out that we, along with Anna, were played. Hans turns out to be a handsome, devious villain. His interest in Anna was all part of a plot to take over her kingdom, as he was 13th in line to rule in his own land. He’s a murderous, cold-hearted snake and we never saw it coming. Our vision of true love at first sight is treated to the deep freeze as this epiphany sinks in. Is this the new Disney reality? No love at first sight?
As we walked out of the theater, my 83-year-old mom exclaimed:
“Wow! I never saw it coming with Hans!”
My mom was wide-eyed and I couldn’t help but think about the fact that she saw Snow White in theaters as a young girl. Her father was a film projector. When it comes to Disney princess films, she’s been on board for this ride from the start, and she’s clearly well-trained on what to expect from a Disney plot line.
I immediately asked my girls what they thought of Prince Hans.
“It was so obvious,” my 13-year-old said, rolling her eyes and grinning.
She’s always been slightly suspicious of Disney plots, that one. The only princess she ever remotely respected as a toddler was Mulan. No patience for Ariel. Her eyes sparkled emerging from this Frozen. It was as if she’d been vindicated.
My 17-year-old was different. She bought into the Disney magic hook, line, and sinker. As a little girl, Belle was her hero to the point that I found myself worrying that my daughter might grow up to mistake a real beast, for her Beast. She always wore the costumes with the matching plastic shoes.
My older daughter and her friend were deep into the world of their cell phones as we walked out of the movie. No time to waste before leaving the theater … they were already updating. Facebook walls were updated, Instagrams were uploaded, Tumbler blogs were posted to, and their Snapchat stories were issued like royal edicts — all containing their take on the movie. I considered checking the stream for her reaction, but tossed a piece of popcorn at her face instead.
“Yeah, Hans. Total shocker. What a jerk!” my daughter shrugged nonchalantly, and agreed with my mom before returning to her tiny screen, thumb typing and squealing with renewed passion for her new hero. “OMG!!! OLAF! Warm Hugs! Happy Snowman! Can you believe how perfect he is?”
This left me to reflect on my own reactions.
I wasn’t so much surprised by the plot twist as by the fact that it was contained in a Disney movie. While romance is still essential, happy weddings aren’t dictating the finish line of Disney princess movies anymore. Think Brave. Self-actualized princesses are all the rage.
Still, a little love interest doesn’t hurt.
Which brings me to Kristoff, the slightly stinky fixer-upper that turns out to be Anna’s love interest. He’s far more likable than the “too good to be true” and ultimately evil Hans. It’s impossible not to like Kristoff and his Reindeer sidekick, Sven, who behaves like a Labrador retriever in antlers. Kristoff is solid. He’s the kind of guy who pays off his sled and doesn’t leave a girl out in the cold. So what if he picks his nose? He’s still good company. He can stay. We aren’t treated to a happy ending with Kristoff, but we’re left hopeful for their future.
Kristoff’s a love, but honestly, he can’t hold a candle to Olaf, the REAL hero of this film. It was Olaf who Elsa and Anna fell in love with at first sight and whose love remained true all the way through to the personal flurry that Elsa creates for their shared snowman at the end.
Disney may have pulled a fast one on those of us that have been brought up on the insta-love plot model. They’ve appeared to slam the “open door” on a tried and true romantic Disney plot line. Whether that is a cause for despair or celebration is up to you.
Either way, they left open a pretty big window. There’s a loophole here. True love and love at first sight both co-exist with magic in the world of Frozen. It’s just true love with a twist. The sisters get each other, and we all get a snowman.
Sometimes your dream man really is a dream man.
The real hero of this film for my family was an innocent, truth-speaking snowman who brought a tear to everyone’s eyes when he said “Some people are worth melting for.” We all fell in love, at first sight, with Olaf.
Images Credit: Disney.com Frozen Gallery