Anna and Hans

If we looked closely at the trolls’ song "Fixer Upper," we should have seen the real twist coming, as so much about the end of the story is in the lyrics. The song emphasizes the reality of love, which includes accepting each others’ flaws and abilities to make bad choices…
We’re not saying you can change her, ‘cause people don’t really change.
We’re only saying that love’s a force that’s powerful and strange.
People make bad choices if they’re mad, or scared, or stressed.
Throw a little love their way and you’ll bring out their best.
True love brings out their best!

And goes on to emphasize how "true love" doesn’t only apply to romantic love…
Everyone’s a bit of a fixer-upper, that’s what it’s all about!
Father, sister, brother! We need each other to raise us up and round us out.
Everyone’s a bit of a fixer-upper, but when push comes to shove.
The only fixer-upper fixer that can fix up a fixer-upper is true, true, true, true, true, true, love…

In the end, what saves Anna is her own choice to dedicate her final living moments, not to racing to Kristoff to receive her kiss, but to saving her sister’s life, putting herself between Elsa and Hans’ falling sword. The necessary act of true love is her own, and it isn’t for her love interest but for her sister, whom she loves enough to die for, either by sword or from being frozen from the inside out. As time would have it, it was the latter that came first but only by about a second or so. Anna’s heroic act sends a powerful message about love, as it demonstrates sacrifice and the kind of unconditional "true love" that can exist between sisters. The effect of her choice resonates with Elsa, who then figures out how to reverse what she’s done.

Love once again conquers all. But what I really love about Frozen is that it emphasizes some of the reality of love, which is sacrifice. And in the process, it celebrates sisterhood and the relevance of non-romantic love to a good story. It’s not as if that’s entirely a new thing, especially for Disney. We’ve seen demonstrations of friendship and familial love scattered throughout Disney’s films over the years, but more often than not, those aspects of the story take a back seat to the romance. In the case of Disney Animation’s latest film, Frozen’s real happily-ever-after is in the reunion of two sisters and in both of their newfound understanding of the power of love.

Sure, Anna and Kristoff finally get their kiss at the end, but even then, the film seems to set their relationship up as a beginning, rather than a happy conclusion, as it acknowledges that people aren’t the shiny perfect princes and princesses we’re all familiar with in older Disney movies, and that true love isn’t something that happens in an instant or throughout the duration of a duet. People are complex and imperfect and that shouldn’t be ignored, especially when shaping the idea of what love is. We’ve seen Anna sing about feeling gassy and we know what she looks like in the morning. And based on what Kristoff says, he may have an appetite for things he finds in his nose. Neither of these characters is perfect. But that’s ok, as the story leaves off with what feels like the start of a relationship, as opposed to an unrealistic shiny promise of a flawless forever, and I kind of love that.

Given how much emphasis Disney has placed on love in their stories throughout the history of their films, it’s refreshing and exciting to see their princess films beginning to portray love in a way that’s a little more evolved and relatable, while still maintaining a storybook tone. It’s one more reason to celebrate Frozen as part of a new era for Disney Animation.

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