I wanted to elaborate on something I alluded to in yesterday’s post. In order to do that, I’m gonna need to talk frankly about Frozen. By frankly I mean I’m going to spoil it. So here’s your warning.
Frozen was more than talking snowmen and royal superantiheroines, or whatever Elsa is. I mean, those are definitely important. Okay, let’s be realistic. Those are things it has to be more than to be anything at all.
There’s a familiar conceit associated with Disney that’s actively deployed and then manipulated in the movie. We’re lead to expect that “true love’s kiss” will save Anna from a crystallizing curse. However, what actually saves her is sacrificial agape.
I’m pretty sure our toddler picked up on that. It only took a little explanation on my part to contextualize this:
It’s pretty liberating having the spoiler like that out of the way. Anyway, our toddler anticipated the dialogue and expressed it slightly ahead of Elsa. “Anna!” “Oh no!” Like I said before, I think Disney’s pretty good at this. The lead up to that’s all tense music and isolated figures to get the viewer in the right emotional state. That was the moment our toddler was really afraid, though.
I’m not a fan of scared toddler. I’m honestly not great at recognizing fear. I’m learning, though.
Me: “Are you scared for Anna?”
Toddler: “Yah” it’s a soundless whisper
Me: “But she’s gonna be okay, right?” I get a dubious look.
The Wonder Pets always save the baby whatever, but Anna just turned to ice. Her sister is crying.
Me: “Her own act of true love is gonna save her.”
Toddler: “Oh!” head cocks, mouth works it around, “Yah.”
The tragedy on the screen gets a somewhat tentative smile. The music rises. Anna thaws. I sit there a bit dubious myself. Then I look over and that tentative smile is full and bright and directed at me.
I’m not claiming a not yet two year old grasped all the details and implications of what happened there. What I am saying, though, is that the emotional impact of the scene was substantial. The conceptual through line was clear. So clear, in fact, that I didn’t have to explain that interposing oneself between sibling and sword was an act of love.