If you have a daughter, you’ve seen Frozen by now. Pop quiz: what is the message of the song “Let It Go”? It is treated like a positive development in Elsa’s life, and millions of little girls sing along to it with joy. And yet, what is actually happening on-screen is that Elsa is cursing her entire kingdom with eternal winter. This seems inconsistent.
It all makes a lot more sense once you learn how the script developed. Elsa was originally intended to be a villain. “Let It Go” was written as her villain song, but when the writers listened to it, all they heard was “self-empowerment.” Surely that couldn’t be a bad thing, so they rewrote the whole movie, and left the song as-is.
I think the song-writers knew exactly what they were doing. Good guys don’t say things like “no right, no wrong, no rules for me,” that’s straight up Nietzschean uber-mensch talk, the kind engaged in shortly before embarking on a genocide. And indeed, Elsa did launch an attack on all the muggles while she sang this song. A little while later, she shoots her sister in the heart, and instead of trying to help her, she dumps her out in the snow and creates a monster who attempts to finish the job.
But she’s empowered, so it’s all good.
Anyway, that’s why Frozen is not a good movie; it is narratively incoherent. There’s no clear moral, the central song contradicts what is shown on-screen, and even the love song is undermined by the fact that the male half is secretly plotting to kill the female half. Also the whole “the secret was love all along” ending was trite, and absurd; Elsa had love from the movie’s start, and it didn’t help her then.
Just nobody tell my daughter.