Talking snowmen, Princesses with ice powers, handsome princes, it’s no wonder that Frozen was so unbelievably popular, is it? Back in 2013 when it was released, it took Frozen no time at all to become the highest grossing Disney film of all time and the most successful animated movie ever. Young girls (and older girls!) all over the world were dressing up as Queen Elsa, stores were struggling to cope with the mass purchasing of Frozen merchandise, and parents were struggling to cope with hearing ‘Let it Go’ on repeat for hours on end. Frozen took the world by storm, winning over 70 awards worldwide, but what I want to know is.. why?
I’m sure there are lots and lots of answers to that question and not just one that we can pin point. After all, this film appeals to people of all ages and genders (those guys that say they dislike Frozen are blatantly lying to ‘preserve their masculinity’) and I’m sure that every single person has their own reasons for holding this film so dear to their hearts. The magic of Frozen captured a whole planet and there are so many reasons why!
Firstly, the themes that run through this film are fantastic. I have already briefly mentioned (in my prior post on Disney and Feminism) the theme of female empowerment within the film. The ‘act of true love’ required to save Anna’s life was performed by her sister, and this was a poignant moment in the film in terms of female empowerment. Although many may roll their eyes at this purposeful move by Disney, I believe that this is an incredibly meaningful way of teaching children the importance of family and the fact that men are not the be all and end all when it comes to love. These sisters stuck together and saved Arendelle with barely any help from the men within the story. Don’t get me wrong, of course the male characters play an important role within the movie, but the point here is that their love for each other is what saved their kingdom, not their love of a male character, which is usually the case in Disney movies. The theme of female empowerment is strong in this one!
Another poignant theme within the movie is that of being yourself. The whole meaning behind the hit song ‘Let it go’ is that you should not be afraid to be yourself. It is important that children’s eyes are opened to this, and movies like this are the perfect way to do it! Elsa is effectively isolated from her home as she is revealed to have secret ice powers. Her difference from other people causes them to see her differently and the film focuses on ensuring that a positive message about difference is emitted from it. Elsa is not held back by the fact she is different from the rest of Arendelle, instead she chooses to leave the kingdom and build her own ice castle, ‘letting go’ and finally feeling free to be the person she really is. The importance of celebrating difference rather than degrading it is highlighted strongly in Frozen and I have nothing but praise for this.
Another aspect of Frozen that I love is the fact that it is the underdog that gets the girl. Although it does become slightly predictable as the film goes on that Anna and Kristoff end up together, the audience are left slightly confused when we meet Kristoff and Hans has already been established as Anna’s love interest. Now, some people claim that they sensed that Hans wasn’t quite what he was making out, I was completely in the dark and shocked when he turned out to be a villain! Call me stupid, call me blind, but I honestly had no idea. Of course, I knew that something was going to have to happen to result in one of the men losing out, but I was genuinely surprised and quite frankly very impressed with the twist that occurred. The theme of unexpected love and the ‘you’ll find love when you least expect it’ vibe that the movie gives off is something that I really admire. The magical, fairy-tale love is still there, without the stereotypical handsome Prince winning the girls heart, and that is so refreshing.
Frozen also receives a lot of its success from its soundtrack. The smash hit leading song, Let it go, spent 13 weeks at the top of the American billboard charts and sold 10.9 million copies. That is pretty damn impressive! The Frozen album, featuring the music from the motion picture, was the biggest selling album of 2014. With its catchy melodies and inspirational lyrics, this isn’t surprising. Love is an open door is one of my favourite Disney songs of all time! And Let it Go inspired a generation! With such fantastic music, created by Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Robert Lopez and Christophe Beck, it is no wonder that Frozen was such a smash hit.
The fact that the movie has two female leads could also been considered a factor in its popularity. Supporting the theme of female empowerment, Frozen features two female protagonists, something that no prior Disney film had done. In my opinion, this emphasises the importance of female independence and sisterly love. I think it is important that Disney are beginning to take these different stances and continue to encourage female empowerment and feminism, and moving away from the original classic movies that did not always encourage such themes. The fact that they are still upholding the enchanting, magical traits of Disney whilst also moving forward with the times and highlighting relevant issues is highly commendable and part of Disney’s everlasting charm.
On the subject of characters, we can’t forget everyone’s favourite talking snowman, Olaf. Including such a likeable and humorous character was a great move by Disney. Although this is not the first time this has been done, we have previously seen the likes of comical sidekicks such as Mushu, the Genie, Sebastian and Stitch, who have all made us laugh while stealing our hearts and making us adore them, Olaf is quite possibly one of Disney’s most loved characters. Children and adults of all ages seem to have fallen in love with this adorable little snowman, who not only has made us all laugh with his comical dialogue, but has also made us all melt with his heart-warming dedication to Anna, to a point where he is willing to melt to help her live.. how damn cute!!
Merchandising also played a huge part in Frozen’s success. Can you name one thing that you can’t find in a shop with a Frozen label on it? I highly doubt you can! Toothpastes, soup, hairbrushes, even – toilet seats! You name it, you’ll be able to find it! Princesses and Queens like Anna and Elsa were undoubtedly going to attract the attention of young girls all over the world. I have lost count of the number of little girls I have seen wearing Elsa dresses. As a child, my favourite Disney film was Beauty and the Beast, and I can’t deny that I wanted all the merchandise possible. A Belle dress, Belle’s shoes, a toy castle complete with all the talking ornaments. You name it, I wanted it. My role model was Princess Belle and I wanted to be like her. In fact, I wanted to BE her. So of course, young girls everywhere, as of 2013, have looked up to their Princess role models, Anna and Elsa, and Disney have wasted no time in cashing in on this, adding the Frozen name onto any products possible, and making a hell of a lot of money from it! Therefore, merchandising will have contributed a lot towards the film’s success.
And of course, the obvious reason why Frozen was so successful… It was just a great film! Yes, it might not be one of the old classics, but it is without regret that I admit that Frozen is one of my favourite Disney movies of all time. I have come across so many people that say this movie was overrated and over marketed (the latter may be slightly true, but do we really care?). Some that have even refused to watch the movie out of principle, but all I have to say to those people is that you are MASSIVELY missing out. Everyone needs a bit of Frozen in their life!!
There are endless reasons that Frozen was such a respected Disney movie. The only question that remains now is will the much anticipated sequel to Frozen be as good as its predecessor? From our prior experience with Disney sequels, it is hard to believe that the film will be anywhere near as good as the original. However, I would like to think that this will be an exception to the rule, and that maybe Frozen 2 could be just as good as (or, by some kind of miracle, even better than) Frozen, and that it will be something for Disney to be really proud of. Unfortunately, we have a while to wait to find out as the film is not due to arrive in cinemas until some point in 2018. Until then, I guess we will just have to keep watching Frozen over and over and over again, but will any of us be complaining about that? I highly doubt it.