Tuesday, January 21, 2014

why frozen works

yes i just came back from watching frozen (and going grocery shopping). i got paul to play "let it go" on his computer, the most anticipated song that everyone currently likes, and so for that, i loathe the population of the earth. but then at least you know a song/film/character works. it's just uncool when characters i like are ridiculously popular. elsa is really hot btw. ironic. lel. this whole song is like her 2-3min long transformation sequence.. maybe that's why everyone likes it. when she whips her hair out. swish. yeah i think i just like her hair.. nah the whole ice witch/ice queen thing is cool, and everyone loves a tormented soul. yes this is disney playing the zuko card. WAH SHE JUST DID THE HAIR THING *swooon*.

what is the appeal of elsa.. well she's the character with the powers. and magical powers are always cool, in a way, as much of central character as rapunzel is to tangled. the one with the magic that affects everything. and yes, we're going to be playing on that in this post, the popular notion that the two movies are connected. for me it's just art style and setting, but they say it's coz both stories are set in a land where magic exists but is hidden (so my brother tells me anyway). ever since marvel universe began, the notion of singular universes for multiple movies has become popular. well in the very least, DC are trying to do it.. and this is disney, who currently own the rights to marvel.. last i checked...

ytr: snowbelle city - pokemon x & y

rawr don't want to get immune to "let it go". people spam it too much. it'll become as bland as "a whole new world" if people aren't careful.

so let's get back to elsa here, my personal favourite character (surprise surprise) and threat to kick vanellope von schweetz out of my starter position for my.. shit.. what's the word.. not inanimate, not omniscient, not unanimous.. INEVITABLE! that's the one. my inevitable disney infinity start, which now my dad knows of the skylander technology and supports it. yuss. ps my dad came to watch frozen with me and my brother. that's cool.

back on topic.

THE APPEAL OF ELSAelsa. she represents (especially in that song) a relatable feature to everyone in the audience (and these days disney does not just attract children, but the audience for frozen seems to be a teen to adolescent one). elsa represents that desire people have to free oneself from worry, responsibility, obligation. it's when elsa accepts that it's okay for her just to be herself, and explore this side of her that has otherwise been treated as a curse. i really think this movie can co-exist with brave, but that's another universe again (look up the pixar universe theory).

another thing is.. elsa is perceived as the villain of this film, however we are never positioned to view her as the villain. even her theme song in which she transforms from the responsible queen to the ice witch, it's not a villainous theme song, it's upbeat, relieving and uplifting. and when we finally arrive at her icy fortress, we aren't greeted with a monster, but a caring sister. yes elsa is revered as a monster, but never as a villain, we are always positioned to see her as a victim, because villains are always characters that have greater power than our heroes (that's why it's such a big deal when they overcome them), but elsa is someone who we always see as small and misunderstood. so take away her villain status and what is left? a blonde bombshell with magical powers and a relatable and compelling backstory. boom.

so that's why everybody loves elsa, because besides being the bomb, and awesomely hot (hurr), she's the imperfect character whom everybody loves always. like zuko.

ANNAan empathy for her solitude and suffering. dramatic irony, only we know her feel bro.

another thing is, unlike other movies with central princess characters, these two are royalty throughout the whole film, and they don't go rags to riches. actually all disney princess movies practically go riches to rags to riches, think about it. even cinderella was the daughter of her high class father. snow white princess forced to work and clean, princess aurora forced to live in the woods in hiding, ariel ditches her aquatic kingdom to become an earthly peasant, and even rapunzel is stripped of her princess title at the start of tangled. of course every disney princess movie ends with our girl reaching the princess title in the end, becoming the princess they deserve to be and marrying their prince. that's an appealing feature of tangled, which is both modern and traditional (i could talk about this movie a lot, but not today).

and so anna and elsa retain their title of royalty throughout the movie. and they are recognised throughout as royalty. and so because this isn't a rags to riches story (at least in a literal sense) the start of our story takes place in the palace, which is new. and we get to the see the contrasting ways they grow up, however both lonely they are, with one excited to see the world and the other fearing it. but we side with elsa more than anna because 1) we know of the pain she goes through and the truth. 2) we know the outside world, we understand more what it means to fear the judgement of others than to be excited about the world's wonders (un/fortunately).

so yeah, the story is just as much about elsa as it is about anna. the depth and journey we share with anna balances the empathy we hold for elsa. and somehow, i feel like disney has never really explored the whole sibling relationship thing before. even characters like ariel just have siblings off to the side.. disney protagonists are always only children now that i think of it oo so this is the first time they've really explored a sibling relationship, and it's a double princess one at that. plus, the two siblings are on opposite sides. but instead of being a plot twist, we see it develop from the start.

TRADITIONAL DISNEY FORMAThere's one that pulls all of our heart strings without us knowing. but disney was what popularised the animated musical film. frozen is beyond anything because i swear they sing so much in frozen, almost like every 2 minutes, about everything. every character has their theme song. but why are we okay with it? besides the fact that everybody just loves how it sounds (exhibit A: let it go), because this stuff is embedded into us, because we all watched disney as children.. even we who grew up in the disney decade (aka the 90s) and why 20-somethings enjoy frozen so much, because it's like what we used to watch. even if we don't realise that's the reason we like it. we're used to the structure, we know how the song sequences go, we understand that disney magic IS a legitimate way to solve problems in this world and any disney world, and we are okay with cheesy endings because that's the magic of how things work here.

FANTASY SETTING / VILLAIN BACKSTORYyes. plain and simple, we love fantasy. and one of our characters can use magic. we LOVE magic. notice that generally in disney movies, the one who can use magic is the villain? oh except the genie.. whatever. anyway.. so yes, we all love magical powers, and elsa is more like a mage of modern day fantasy games (boom that appeal again) as opposed to "witches" we've come to know over the course of film history.

back to "let it go". i treat this whole segment as our "villain backstory". because honestly, when i watched the movie, that's where i thought this movie was going. it certainly feels like elsa's descent and decision to forget about her responsibilities and expectations of other people and allow herself to just.. be. as dangerous as that could be. she just.. LOOKS like an ice witch by the end of it, and certainly closes the door like a villain hahaha.

but that's what i mean. usually we have no explanation to how villains came to be who they are. "once upon a time, a wtich plagued the land with an endless winter". yeah older movies might start out like that, but frozen is different because for the first half an hour, we watch elsa grow up and hide her true identity. and so as she makes her magic ice palace and unties her hair to reveal this beautiful independent woman, we can see how this "villain" fortress is created and come to accept it because 1) it's in a musical sequence and shit is awesome in musical sequences 2) we know her powers have been growing as she aged, and she's finally letting it go

WHY WE ACCEPT HANSthis one after thinking about it was a simple answer. why do we immediately accept hans and ship him with anna? well because we expected him. if he came in suddenly and out of nowhere sort of like how prince philip shows up in sleeping beauty, it wouldn't work as well. BUT! anna devotes a whole early section of the movie dreaming about meeting her prince (note: modern version of course, they talk and bond and have fun and not just fall in love at first sight). and all of our expectations are met. she meets her prince in the cutest way, and they do all that stuff she wanted them to do. they bond, they talk, they laugh, and have things in common. we accept him because anna sets up this dream for us, and because the dream is met, we get excited and fall for him just as she does. not to mention how perfectly they click.. and for us, i'm sure it's all a dream for us too, to meet someone so perfect for us (and not to mention hot)

the only thing that had me questioning it was the gut feeling with kristoff (dunno how to spell), because in these movies, the girl seems to always end up falling for the guy she struggles with through the story instead of the one she had at the start. (hunger games? i actually know nothing about that franchise)

OLAF'S POSITIONi made a lot of olaf snowballing puns when iw atched this movie. hahahaha. discussed this one with my brother last night, and our shared consensus is honestly.. the movie can go perfectly fine without him. in fact the first teaser for frozen featured just him (and possibly sven i think) so i was totally misguided for what this movie was about.. thought we were heading down the bolt lane again, chucking random crap out that only kids would watch. hmm.. that's an interesting thought. but olaf's position is obviously the cute mascot that appeals mostly to kids. it is a necessity for disney movies. his position is more like pascal, as sven is to maximus (frozen vs tangled). a combination of all of silly, witty and dumb all at once, olaf's innocence brings a charm to the party that only someone like him can. though on a deeper level, i suppose he was always there, the embodiment of anna and elsa's true childhood, he represents their inner child as much as everyone else in the audience. "my name is olaf and i like warm hugs"

HUMOURi've talked a lot about elsa and the whole setting of the movie, not even sure if i got it all down. but you get the geist i suppose. the last thing i can actively think of is something more in the writing than the planning of this movie.. and that's the humour. with anna's own goofiness and olaf's wittiness, we also have kristoff's awkwardness. all of this stuff combined with random other stuff that goes on like the trading post/sauna guy.. disney humour has evolved and is more witty and direct that it catches us off guard. wreck it ralph was hilarious for this reason. we're not used to such wacky humour in disney movies, we're used to.. disney humour. that i can't really explain. i think what i mean is.. humour that comes out of characters that are deliberately made cartoony, animated and goofy, but now we get humour from more realistic characters. and it's witty. (king candy is a different story, ceebs to think about it right now)

MODERN TWISTlike tangled before it, "frozen" challenges the conventions of the disney princess genre. the whole "you can't marry someone you just met" thing (seem some hilarious macros featuring that) and stuff like that. for the most part anna represents this innocent youthful vision of true love. the characters in frozen hold different beliefs and speak them out loud than things (although unmentioned) are questionable in older disney films. like i said, they do it in tangled too. rapunzel is not just weak and helpless just because she's weak and helpless. it deals with domestic complications and identity stances (hmm.. so does frozen). and the age of our princesses is no longer like 16 anymore. man when i reached the age of 16 all of a sudden i was like [: .. i don't feel any older or protagonist-worthy.. but yeah

FINALLY.. NARRATIVE STRUCTUREso the whole thing is breaking conventions while retaining essence. it keeps what we love and removes what feminists and other people would complain about. and like i explained way way earlier, it does not follow the narrative arc we (or at least i) expect. elsa remains the tortured, confused girl she always has been throughout, she does not fall to villainy. the quest ends shortly, and we don't know where to go after. the narrative structure is literally like nothing we see in other films of this genre. and in it's unpredictability, we are more engaged (that's why i didn't like brave). i can honestly imagine a KH level having us run back and forth between the two palaces in the snow. but yeah, even from the trailers, you have no idea what this movie is going to be about or how it's going to take place, or i didn't anyway. but that's a good thing, the appeal is that y ou don't know, and it's uniqueness is wht draws you in. and you are met with this musical, hilarious journey that everybody loves.

there's probably a lot more to say, especially about elsa and her appeal (seriously people really love her and dig much further into the story than the movie) but let's leaev it at that. been writing for over an hour, delayed brunch for 2 just to get this done first. dedication.

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