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Nick Thomas
21 March 2014
Instances of Progressive Ideology in 'Frozen'
Disney's new animated movie, Frozen, has shattered numerous records, including
becoming the highest grossing animated film of all time. Now sitting at number ten in the all
time Worldwide box office (All Time Worldwide), this movie has exceeded critic's
expectations, and is now one of Disney's most successful movies. While most viewers credit the
film's incredibly catchy soundtrack to much of its fame, Frozen's plot and storyline, along with
its feminist roots also contribute its success. Disney made many progressive actions when
making Frozen and their reasoning behind these decisions will be looked at and discussed.
Frozen tells the story of two orphaned princesses of Arendelle, Elsa and Anna, with Elsa
possessing magical snow powers that she is forced to conceal. Elsa and Anna live in a castle in
isolation for the fear that Elsa's powers might be revealed to the public. However, on the day
that Elsa is to be crowned queen, the gates are opened, and everyone is allowed on the inside of
the castle. It is on that day that Anna finds her true love, Prince Hans of the Southern Isles.
Elsa rejects their plea for her blessing in their marriage, and ends up running to the mountains to
be alone, freezing the entire city in the process. Anna goes on a journey to find her sister and
return the city to normal, and meets a couple other characters, like Kristof and his reindeer Sven.
Together they find Elsa, but she is angered by their presence and just wants to be alone. In her
anger, she accidentally attacks Anna giving her a frozen heart. Eventually Anna's selfless

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sacrifice towards her sister cures her frozen heart and teaches Elsa to control her ice powers.
Despite the setting of the movie taking place hundreds of years prior to the present,
Frozen has characters that are very modern and relatable. The character Anna has a positive,
quirky personality, something that is very popular today's youth. The movie itself was released
in late 2013, when snow was just staring to hit the ground in much of America. This makes the
movie more appealing to potential viewers, as it would have drawn much less viewership had it
been released in summer for example. In a time where princesses are being portrayed in movies
more and more like normal people, Disney takes it to an extreme, even altering the cookie cutter
storyline to create something unlike any other movie.
Nearly every Disney movie shows the progression a princess with a plot that goes along
the lines of: princess gets in trouble, princess is saved by man, princess and man fall in love and
live happily ever after. At first, Frozen seems like just that. Hans and Anna instantly fall in love,
and it seems as though this might just be another plain Disney movie with a reused plot. Hans
asks Anna to marry her moments later and she instantly says yes. However, when asking for her
older sister's blessing in their marriage, Elsa says You can't marry a man you just met. This is
a turning point in the movie, as it contradicts other Disney movies until this point, showing that
people should not get married the day that they meet. It shows a much more realistic approach
on marriage, something not normally seen in Disney movies.
Anna's character is also very unlike any other Disney princess. Rather than having
perfect manners like a princess should, she seems rather clumsy and awkward, and is someone
that girls around the world can relate to. She enjoys stuff[ing] some chocolate in [her] face,
and even talks about being gassy in one of her songs, two subjects that no other Disney

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princess would ever touch on. The movie also shows very human-like elements, such as Anna
sleeping in and waking up with unkempt hair all over the place. When one of the maids
apologizes for waking her up, Anna groggily replies I've been up for hours, despite just waking
up. Later, when first meeting Prince Hans, she struggles putting words together, saying Ha.
This is awkward. Not youre awkward, but just because were-- Im awkward. Youre gorgeous.
Wait, what? (Lee).
Later, when Elsa runs away into the mountains, Princess Anna announces that they must
find Elsa and retrieve her. Quickly, Prince Hans declares that he will go to search for her and put
a stop to this never-ending snowstorm. Again, this looks like it will unfold to become another
generic Disney movie showing a prince's adventure to save a princess (or in this case, a queen).
However, Anna quickly intervenes, saying that she should be the one who will search for her
sister, with just her and her horse. Despite thinking that it is a dangerous idea, Hans lets her go
on the journey. This feminist action shows that woman too, can be the ones who can save the
As Anna progresses through her journey to find her sister, she stumbles upon a shop
called Wandering Oaken's Trading Post and Sauna. Anna walks in to find a pleasant, large,
burly man sitting behind the counter, assumed to be Oaken. After some discussion with this
man, he says Hi, family, pointing to his family who are in the sauna. The shot then pans to his
family, which includes four children along with a middle aged man. The family is shown for just
a brief second, and is not focused on very much. However, it can be assumed that the man
running the store is gay, with his husband being the man in the sauna. This may be the first time
that Disney has shown a homosexual character, even though they may not have made it that

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obvious. Presumably to not receive any backlash from members of the anti-gay community,
Disney made it up to the viewer to interpret whether or not Oaken is gay. Change takes time, so
rather than causing a commotion, they merely hinted at a gay character, most likely with the idea
that they will slowly show more and more of characters like this in future movies.
As Anna goes on her journey to find her sister, she teams up with a character, who later
becomes her love interest, Kristof. He is a character who is very unlike most princess' love
interests, in the way that he is just a regular man without royalty or money. He delivers ice for a
living and even spits in the movie. Kristof partners up with Anna to find the queen, and acts very
normal around Anna, treating her like a regular person, despite her status as a princess. He
represents a more modern man, who treats women as equal to others, and does not value a person
more for their status or income.
Elsa's self-empowerment is unlike any other Disney character's. When Anna finally finds
her sister, all alone in a castle made of ice, Anna tells her that she needs to come back to
Arendelle. However, Elsa explains that she has never been happier, saying that she is alone, but
I'm alone and free. Ginal Luttrell says that This is something Disney has never done before as
the characters who have been voluntarily solitary have almost always been villains, not heroes
(Luttrell). Disney is finally showing children that they do not their prince charming to be happy.
The ending of Frozen ties everything together. Anna knows that the only thing that will
save her is an act of true love. Realizing that she loves Kristof, she knows that a kiss with him
can cure her heart before she freezes. For a third time, it looks like this will be just another
normal Disney movie, as she will find her true love who she has only known for about a day. As
she sees Kristof, running from afar, Anna also spots Elsa, who is about to be murdered by Prince

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Hans. Rather than saving herself, she selflessly goes to try and protect Elsa, and freezes just as
Hans is swinging with his sword, breaking Hans' sword in the process. Presumed to be dead,
Elsa cries over her frozen sister. However, Anna thaws out as the act of true love was valuing
her sister over herself. This is very much unlike any other Disney movie in two different ways.
First, rather than kissing her Prince Charming, she chooses her sister, instead. Second, rather
than Prince Charming saving the day, it is actually the Princess who saves the Queen. Many
critics are very happy with this move made by Disney: Just as I thought the movie was about to
veer off into boy-saves-helpless-princess territory, the movie resolved another way the way that
I had hoped it would (Felicelli). This twist on the classic story-book ending makes Frozen a
movie that will be remembered.
After much analysis, Frozen was found to be very unique, filling a nice niche in Disney's
expanding collection of movies. Altering the classic storyline, while also having characters that
act very modern caused Frozen so popular worldwide, creating fans of all age and gender.
Disney purposefully chose to make this movie so different, knowing that they will be able to
expand on these changes in upcoming movies. Disney also knew that fans would be able to relate
to the characters, while also being entertained by a new story.
Overall, Disney's Frozen is extremely progressive and unlike any other Disney movie. It
includes gay characters, relatable princesses, self-empowered women, and finally, an
independent princess who saved the day. While Disney did not make a movie that was too
radical, being very careful to not cause an outcry from the public, these findings still found that
Disney is looking to make more changes in the future, so expect to see more movies like Frozen.

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Works Cited
"All Time Worldwide Box Office Grosses." All Time Worldwide Box Office Grosses. N.p., n.d.
Web. 21 Mar. 2014.
Dowd, Maureen. Frozen in a Niche? The New York Times. March 4, 2014. Web.
Felicelli, Anita. Is Frozen the First Feminist Disney Movie? Palo Alto Online. January 3, 2014.
Web. http://www.paloaltoonline.com/blogs/p/2014/01/03/is-frozen-the-first-feministdisney-movie.
Foss, Sonja K. Rhetorical Criticism: Exploration and Practice. 4th ed. Long Grove: Waveland,
2009. Print.
Lee, Jennifer. "Frozen - Disney." N.p., 23 Sept. 2013. Web. 21 Mar. 2014.
Luttrell, Gina. 7 Moments That Made 'Frozen' the Most Progressive Disney Movie Ever. Policy
Mic. January 20, 2014. Web. http://www.policymic.com/mobile/articles/79455/7moments-that-made-frozen-the-most-progressive-disney-movie-ever.
Marlena, Kyleigh. More Than 7 Reasons 'Frozen' is Not a Progressive Movie. The Quill.
January 24,

2013. Web. http://quillaquiver.com/2014/01/24/more-than-7-reasons-


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Robinson, Joanna. 10 Ways In Which 'Frozen' Was Saved From Being Just Another Stupid
Princess Movie. Pajiba. December 2, 2013. Web.
http://www.pajiba.com/seriously_random_lists/10-ways-in-which-frozen-was-savedfrom-being-another-stupid-princess- movie-.php#.Uxk6wvG9Kc0.