“Frozen 2” is one of those rare sequels that is better than the original. The team, somehow, remained true to the source material, created characters that are like real people, and explored several levels of story depth, including creativity and what people are really like. I loved “Frozen” so much that my roommates in Malta got me Olaf themed gifts for Christmas. I’m not saying I planned our entire New Zealand trip around the release of “Frozen 2,” so I could see it in English, but… In case I need to say it, spoilers after the trailer.
As creative as “Frozen 2” is in its exploration of what it means to be a complete human being, it does tell the same story that the first one tells – in essence. Two sisters fall apart and, through their love and the ability to do the next right thing, one saves the other. It may seem that Elsa has forgotten the lessons of “Frozen” and “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure,” where she sings a song about being together with her chosen family. However, by eschewing the character development arc that most stories are supposed to carry over into the sequel, Disney has revealed one of the truths of what it means to be human. We seldom learn the right lesson the first time.
While Joseph Campbell and George Lucas may hold that the hero’s journey is about growth and change, few characters and fewer people actually evolve though their lives (fictional or real). Instead, people date the wrong kind of person, over and over. They repeat the mistakes of their parents. Even when we resolve to change, we find ourselves drawn back into that which is easiest. We cling to harmful traditions. We espouse wrong information, even after we have learned that is wrong, and we seek justification for those things that we do, especially when they aren’t healthy or good.
In Elsa’s case, she grew up alone. She was forced to hide herself. At the end of “Frozen” and through the related shorts, it seems that she doesn’t feel like she has to hide who she is. That isn’t the case. Elsa has yet to embrace what she can do and who she really is. She finds herself trapped as queen and having to hide what she hears and what she feels, even if she is really hiding it mostly from herself – even if she heard it, and she didn’t…
Those years alone, she spent having to rely on her own powers of self-control, and this spills over into how she deals with Anna and Olaf. She has to delve deeply into her past and her family’s past to get at the root of the problem. It’s not more than any of us would have to do to make change in our own lives. It isn’t easy, and without Anna’s help, who Elsa has pushed away, Elsa would have remained permanently frozen in her journey to become a better person. The question remains: What would have happened if Elsa had learned the lesson about keeping your family close from the first movie?
Kristoff and Anna both face the problem of having someone else be their guiding light. They must learn to overcome their personal situations and what it means for them when those lights disappear. They must learn to become their own guides while allowing others to care for them, too.
The first songs are about the main characters’ fears of change and the unknown. Both of these are qualities of creativity, and both cause people and companies to give up on doing anything new precisely because it is scary. Creativity will lead to transformation, but it has to be driven by hope and doing the next right thing, even if people aren’t entirely sure what that means.
To be nit-picky, the movie would’ve been better if it had gotten Queen to sing the cover of Kristoff’s ‘80’s tribute. The video had all the makings of a weird 1980s concept and borrowed from “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Still, the whole feel stayed in tune with the movie as it used different elements to bring its story together. “Frozen 2” didn’t shy away from experimenting with its genre and using effects that aren’t traditionally associated with Disney’s animated features, even though they have been a part of the company since 1940’s Fantasia.
The last line of the film reveals what the creativity is all about. “We Live!” It’s not just Elsa and Anna who live because they are exploring the limits of their abilities and improving their creativity. It’s the others around them who are given permission to live as well. The same is true for all of us. We live when we become the creative beings we can be, and we give others permission to stretch for their dreams, too.
If you would like to read “Frozen 2” plots that Disney probably never considered, get “Penguinate! The Disney Company” (also available on Amazon). My book covers the Disney Company, other Disney films and the Disney Parks.