Participants of my Saving Cinderella class had the option to a write guest post on the topic of the session they attended. This post is in response to Session 6, The Prince is a Psychopath: Elsa, Anna, and the Death of Prince Charming.
To watch past sessions of the class, click here.
The following was written by Eric M. Blake.
I suppose it’s too late to issue a trigger warning. Perhaps a SPOILER ALERT? Yeah, that’ll do.
The first time I saw (much of) Frozen, I was quite impressed. It reminded me of The Princess Bride, with its knowing, self-reflective take on the many tropes of the Disney Princess mythos.
Mind you, said initial sampling ended before the Big Twist of the charming, friendly, and caring (for the desperate citizens of the kingdom, no less) Prince Hans…turning out to be the villain. With no setup whatsoever. It’s as though the screenwriters didn’t study The Sixth Sense, or Fight Club, or Unbreakable, or The Empire Strikes Back, or the original Planet Of The Apes, or any classic Twilight Zone episode—and what made those twists actually work. When you watch the movie/episode again—knowing the twist—things still have to make sense. And even knowing Hans is evil…Frozen, well, doesn’t.
But I digress. The point is how fresh, and innovative, the film promoted itself to be—especially in the discussions over love at first sight, for example.
The D.P. story deconstructing itself—holding the tropes under a microscope. And whatever the faults of the twist (as I found out)…the film at least had that.
And then I saw Enchanted.
Let me state for the record: everything Frozen pats itself on the back for doing, Enchanted already did, five years before—and frankly did it better, precisely because it never insults the viewer’s intelligence.
Love At First Sight’s deconstructed—without the shoehorned, melodramatic “Women’s Thriller” twist that Prince Charming is eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeevil…! While Edward’s not Giselle’s One True Love…he doesn’t need to become The True Arch-Villain to convey that.
It even has Frozen beat in the little things. Consider the Frozen song “Love Is An Open Door,” specifically where Anna and Hans, well…
Hans: I mean, it’s crazy!
Hans: We finish each other’s…
Hans: That’s what I was gonna say!
Okay. I appreciate the joke—finishing each other’s lines while they’re singing about finishing each other’s lines. Still…the lyrics are kinda on the nose. Blatant. Bland.
Perhaps if a couple songwriters were to convey the exact same lyrical joke, but in a way that’s far more clever—far more artful—far more poetic, and eloquent, and fresh, it would go something like:
Edward: You’re the fairest maid I’ve ever met!
You were made—
Giselle: —To finish your duet!
(Side note: Notice, too, the wordplay of “maid” vs “made”? All that creative cleverness in the span of a couple lines—just a sampling of the underrated masterpiece that is “(I’ve Been Dreaming Of A) True Love’s Kiss.” It’s the masterful talent of Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz, as opposed to modern Broadway.)
But it isn’t just Enchanted offering such fresh and clever takes on the traditional D.P. tropes. It goes as far back as the Disney Renaissance: The rough/rude initial-antihero turning out to truly deserve the heart of the princess? The Beast and Aladdin. And even, far more recently, Flynn Rider, and Naveen, and Robert (yes, Enchanted again).
The D.P. “letting it go,” and discovering independence? Jasmine, Belle, Ariel…and even Cinderella.
I could go on, but, in my professional opinion as a film critic and analyst, Frozen’s status as the Grand Deconstruction of the D.P. mythos is shaky at best—resting on the pillars of:
1) Deconstruction that’s already been done better (and mind you, Enchanted also had time to reconstruct, too);
2) Forced, shoehorned violations of the basic symbolism that makes the D.P. mythos work in the first place; and
3) Twisting of said mythos to support the demands of pseudo-feminism.
Methinks the last two (as Faith Moore’s covered) are related.
ERIC M. BLAKE is the chief Culture & Entertainment writer at Western Free Press. A graduate of the University of South Florida, with a Bachelor’s in Political Science and a Master’s in Film Studies, he is very passionate about political theory and filmmaking–and the connections between the two. Inspired by Andrew Breitbart’s axiom that “Politics is downstream from culture,” he is deeply fascinated by the great influence that popular culture has on public opinion, and is a firm believer in the power of storytelling.
You can also.find him on Twitter, @HardBoiledFilms, and on YouTube, at Hard Boiled Entertainment. Yes, that implies certain cinematic aspirations.