Are cartoon princess movies going through a foundational shift? Did the reimagining of Snow White as a woodsman and her daughter as a bail-
bondswoman in Once Upon a Time signal the beginning of Disney Girl Power? I don't know, but whatever's happening, I really like it!
2010's Tangled is about a sheltered, naïve, but perfectly capable princess. Brave told the tale of an Irish tomboy princess. But the message in Frozen trumps them both, I think. Sisters Elsa and Anna are undeniably feminine, and their strength comes out of a very feminine place. It's feminine to want to protect, to sacrifice one's self for the safety of another, and to speak for loved ones who are misunderstood and wrongly judged. It's feminine to believe the best about someone. And it's feminine to accept masculine help while doing what you believe is right. All of these things inform the sisters' actions as they struggle through what is basically a coming-of-age tale.
Elsa and Anna are daughters of the king and queen of Nordic Arendelle. Elsa has magical powers—the ability to form ice and snow—although she has trouble controlling that power. One night, while creating snow in the ballroom to delight her sister, Elsa accidentally hits Anna in the head with her power. The wise Pabbie rock troll tells the girls' parents he must remove Anna's memory of Elsa's power if the girl is to survive. To protect Anna from Elsa's power and the memory of it, Elsa is confined to her room. Not only does Anna lose her best friend, but the girls' parents are killed during a sea voyage. Elsa grows up in her room while Anna stays in the castle.
Elsa comes of age and the girls are released for her summer coronation. Anna revels in her new freedom, while Elsa is terrified of her inability to control her powers. In her fear, she sends the kingdom into winter and flees into the mountains.
While I was uber-analyzing the stuffing out of the girls' relationship, my son was happily enjoying the music and the antics of Olaf the snowman and Sven the reindeer. As with Tangled, he was too wrapped up in the action to care that it was a princess movie.
As a Disney movie, there's not much objectionable content in Frozen. There is, of course, the use of magic, and an ice monster appears that may be frightening to younger kids. But any frightening elements are trumped by fun and the strong message throughout the movie.
Frozen is similar to Brave on several levels. First, the title doesn't necessarily refer to the main character. Also, behind both stories are parents who fear their daughters' gifts and powers. It's damaging to hide girls from the world and hide the world from girls. Our job as parents is to help daughters develop their strengths so they can be a force for Christ in the world. You can't train a queen by locking her in her room.
Kersley Fitzgerald is a former Air Force officer, former Air Force wife, and current editor of Got Questions’ blog site, Blogos.org. She and her husband adopted JT from Thailand when he was 18 months old. He has spent the ensuing years teaching her more about God than any theology course could.