Disney revolutionized their princess genre with the release of Frozen, and they continued that trend with the film’s sequel, Frozen II. For the first time, a princess movie’s central focus was not on romance, but a different kind of love.
Elsa and Anna had to learn to draw from their love for each other to achieve their victory at the end of Frozen, and in Frozen II, all the characters learned the value of self-love. This differs greatly from previous princess tales that revolved mostly around conflict within family relationships, romantic love between a prince and princess, and minimal focus on healthy emotional choices. While the Frozen movies still hit the mark for an entertaining princess movie, the quotes from the film prove that it did so in a completely new way.
Disney Princesses are typically the perfect image of grace. They are an idealized fantasy: gentle, beautiful, sophisticated, and romantic. However, society is learning more and more that these traits are not entirely realistic for a healthy role model.
In comparison, her imperfections are some of Anna’s best traits. She doesn’t always say the right thing, she is not overly sure of herself, and she doesn’t look perfect every waking moment. She has plenty of remarkable qualities that a young viewer can strive to achieve, but overall Anna lets audiences know that it’s okay to be a little bit of a mess sometimes too.
Disney parents have a reputation for making poor choices for their children. They may lock them in a tower, abandon them, or even try to actively murder their child or step-child. If this is not the case, then they are likely overly perfect, nurturing, and fulfilling their child’s every need.
The parents in Frozen are more realistic in that they loved their daughters and did their best, but they made a few errors in judgment along the way. Elsa suffered a lot of pressure from her parents to never make a mistake, to the point that she became overly fearful of her powers. This was a new theme in Frozen that has been used a lot in Disney movies since then.
There aren’t many movies, let alone Disney movies, that embrace a male character baring their souls without worry that they will be emasculated. The male characters will often be tough, strong, and mostly silent.
Kristoff is a particularly great character because, while he is as rough and manly as they come, he isn’t afraid to expose it all and share his emotions. He takes time to reflect on himself, but he also doesn’t try to blame others for the uncomfortable ways that he may feel, making him a great role model for any viewer.
For a snowman that has only been autonomous for a few years, Olaf is surprisingly wise. When Arendelle seems to be falling to pieces, he calmly allows the town children to cover him in ice crystals, and just smiles along as they do what they need to do to soothe their fears.
Handling high-stress situations can be difficult for anyone, and Disney movies of the past might have seen characters screaming in terror at such an event. However, in Frozen II, Olaf and his friends kept themselves calm and helped the rest of the community feel at ease as well.
Perhaps the biggest difference with Frozen‘s formula is the elimination of “love at first sight.” This is a trope that had been used in almost every Disney Princess movie before Frozen and has had the potential to create a grossly unrealistic view of how love works.
At first, the movie makes it appear that Anna would go in this same direction, but when Elsa says the words that would have broken the hearts of Cinderella, Snow White, and Aurora had they heard it, it became clear that Frozen was going to avoid that old trope.
It is difficult to find the balance between finding independence and learning to rely on those who have your best interest at heart. When Elsa sang these words, she found independence for the first time in her life. She realized that she had the power to protect herself and that epiphany showed her a whole new world of abilities.
However, Elsa would later have to learn how to combine that independence with the love of her sister and family. In previous Disney movies, this difficult balance was never explored.
Elsa had been suppressing her powers for so long that she never realized how much potential she had. The moment she let all of her reservations go, she realized she had the power to create, not only giant towers of ice, but actual living beings too.
For so long in Disney Princess movies, any real power often belonged either to fairy godmothers or villains. The decision to give this power to a protagonist allowed for some beautiful and empowering moments that had never been seen this way before and allowed Elsa to become the most heroic Disney Princess (or Queen).
Even outside of film, negative emotions are often avoided. When a character is angry in a movie, they will normally make bad, out-of-control decisions, and then later come to regret the way they had felt. In reality, feelings of anger are normal and completely healthy to experience.
In Frozen II, Anna and Olaf feel angry with Elsa for pushing them away and going it alone. In the end, it was okay for Elsa to make the decision she had, but it was also okay for Anna and Olaf to feel the way they did about it. Anna supported Olaf with these feelings, and instead of lashing out, they commiserated, and then deliberated their next decision.
At the end of Frozen II, Anna had very difficult decisions to make, proving that she was a true Disney hero. She had to explain these decisions to Lieutenant Mattias, who had sworn to protect Arendelle at all costs. But when Kristoff arrived, he never stopped to question Anna, as his loyalty was only to her, and he trusted whatever decision she needed to make.
A common trope in storytelling is the conflict created between characters who doubt one another. The result is a lot of relationships in fiction that have very little real trust. With Frozen the writers saw that they could create conflict without pitting characters against each other and creating doubt, and Kristoff demonstrated this perfectly.
When Anna left Kristoff behind to take care of Elsa, Kristoff struggled with some of his insecurities as a result. He was unsure of Anna’s true feelings for him and struggled with his doubts and anxieties. However, he also knew that Anna had so much more going on during that time than her relationship with him, and he realized that he just needed to support her.
This selfless decision contradicted the common decisions of characters in Disney movies. Typically, a character that felt left behind would hold the other person responsible, adding to the conflict. But Kristoff demonstrated to audiences how to be a supportive partner while taking care of his own emotions.
NEXT: 10 Wise Disney Quotes To Live By