Things Frozen had:
-Anna’s friendliness with castle staff
-A portrayal of the effects of neglect
-A portrayal of an abusive relationship in part caused by the effects of conditioning/isolation from previous abuse
-A spunky athletic princess who is nevertheless not equipped to do what she sets out to do on her own
-A princess who is both emotionally powerful and emotionally vulnerable
-A portrayal of anxiety
-An effective portrayal of what seems to be the beginning of recovery but in avoiding rather than confronting a painful reality in fact leads to further isolation, alienation and hurt
Things Frozen needed:
-A backstory that wasn’t RIFE WITH PLOT HOLES (see: what the fuck is up with Kristoff; it’s weirdly unclear whether and to what extent we’re supposed to see the parents’ approach to the trolls’ advice as flawed; what are the trolls getting at anyway?; in what world does it make sense to remove a magic user’s ENTIRE SUPPORT SYSTEM in one fell swoop to undo magical damage, especially when the key to controlling said magic is LOVE, which de facto requires an honest, mutually protective relationship?) This one bothers me a lot.
-Fat Anna. Fat Anna. FAT ANNA.
-Some genuine closure about Elsa’s neglect of Anna. As victims of the same abuse, it’s so important that their isolation from each other is dealt with. Anna worked her butt off to get close to Elsa again - Elsa didn’t do the same. And then, after Anna’s outburst at the ball, we never see her confront Elsa again. Is she afraid that being angry will trigger another magical catastrophe? That’s not healthy. It’s going to become a problem. What about the other fights that they’re DEFINITELY going to have? Everything about this points to some heavy emotional suppression, AKA the backbone of Frozen’s plot!
-Anna beating the shit out of Hans. Like, cool, she punches him. Then she whirls around haughtily and never worries about him again. REALLY?! This creep took advantage of her vulnerability and desperation, succeeded in seducing her (how would THAT have gone if Elsa hadn’t flipped her shit and thrown a wrench in the works?! Awful possibilities abound), and was planning to murder her sister, whom she adored, and who was her ONLY SURVIVING FAMILY MEMBER. Meanwhile, she trusted him with EVERYTHING, including her kingdom and her heart, until he OPENLY TURNED ON HER. The amount of emotional trauma that would be attached to that is staggering, and the idea that Anna wouldn’t struggle with feelings of guilt, powerlessness, and self-hatred - not to mention the idea that she would respond in a way less than lethal to Hans when she had the power to do so - is nothing more or less than a completely unfair portrayal of the experience of victims of abuse. Anna deserved to beat the crap out of Hans and/or have him executed; and fans who saw their own victimhood in Anna’s experience with him deserved to see it.
-A new dress for Elsa! Disney knows all about the way imagery affects a story. Why does Elsa get a brand new dress for her Snow Queen transformation but nothing later? She’s certainly not the same at the end of the movie as she is during “Let it Go;” in fact, in spite of its power ballad qualities, that scene is clearly Elsa deluding herself - the same Elsa who builds a giant fucking ice castle has run away from her kingdom and her sister, completely avoids her responsibilities, has a massive breakdown and proceeds to strike Anna with a literally deadly blow. Marshmallow alone is evidence that she has some serious issues to work out - she’s still isolating herself as she did before, but telling herself it’s on her terms. The weird (and very not Scandinavian) hypersexuality of her ice dress is contextualized as NOT representative of Elsa’s true self - so why does it stick around?
I loved Frozen when I first saw it, but I’m not gonna kid myself. It’s a Disney movie. The emotional backbone and the visual beauty is almost all concentrated in the suspenseful and negative parts of the story; the happy ending is sappy and drained of meaning by the need to make everything cutesy enough to be associated with the Disney label. I want to see more stories that effectively deal with the themes they set out to explore, so I take what I like and analyze the hell out of it. So yeah. This is how I felt about Frozen.