Elsa was born with a secret and it is that secret that grows her and her sister, Anna apart. Elsa has the best intentions, but no control and her sister will do whatever it takes to undo the wrongs done by her sister.
Disney is back with another princess story based on the Andersen’s Snow Queen, only this time it’s not just about one princess, but two. Or to be more accurate, a princess and a queen. The story has twists and turns at every turn and just about when you think you know what is going to happen you are proven wrong.
Attention this review contains spoilers. LOTS OF THEM.
You have princess Anna, a clumsy character, whose loneliness has made her into a quirky person. Voiced by Kristen Bell, she has a fully-fledged personality, a deviation from the usual princess “stuck-ups” and at the same time a mockery of Disney’s past at the same time.
Elsa, voiced by the talented Idina Menzel, is serious and burdened with her natural gifts over snow and ice. Born different, her parents have forced her into solitude and suppression. Her life has no meaning and nothing to look up to.
With an array of talented voice actors, this movie takes a life of its own and, what a life that is! There are two men in this film. A prince and an ice merchant. One befriends Anna and the other becomes engaged to her. Disney uses their usual trope for their first act, introducing Anna’s Prince Charming, Hans (voice by Santino Fontana) and love at first sight. Only to be mocked by Kristoff (the charming Jonathan Groff) later on in the film. That’s right. Disney is making fun of the love at-first-sight they so vigorously embedded in children’s brains over the past few decades. Now it becomes a good 5 minute gag in the film’s second act.┬áIf that’s nothing to make a big fuss about, then Anna not only ends up with mountain man Kristoff, but they don’t get married. There’s no wedding in the film. Not even a hint. The couple is starting a relationship without rushing into marriage. When did Disney move to the 21st century? Well, welcome!
And as if that wasn’t progressive enough, Elsa is the most admirable character of this film. She is not evil, but her actions may speak otherwise with the rest of the characters and is trying to hide who she really is, only to be outed for the freak she is and embrace herself and her powers. Elsa represents the humanity of us all. Sometimes having the best intentions is not enough. Sometimes we do mistakes. And with a little help we can fix the worst of them. Right? Well, not yet. With all the change happening around the world and people asking for more representation from Disney, Elsa speaks to the hearts of the LGBT community as a closeted lesbian.
Of course it’s a somewhat forced reading, but with Disney’s shyness of anything non-white, non-straight can you blame me and all the others that read into it. It doesn’t by any means mean that a woman can’t be strong and happy without a man, without being deemed lesbian, but that’s the easy read. Anyone who’s seen Brave and Frozen will leave with the impression that the heroines are powerful and better off without love.
But for us gays? We want more and we look for it anywhere we can. Gosh, seeing these characters so frustrated and tormented, we relate, so we feel as if she’s one of our own. Maybe in the future, when being raised gay is nothing of a bias or a wrong, gay kids will watch and not relate to her, because they’ve not been subdued to the same experiences for who they are, but until then, I think the comparisons will hold strong.
And don’t get me started on the best allusion to coming-out ode sang by enchantress Idina Menzel as Elsa runs from her kingdom and herself and accepts herself in the lyrics of the catchy tune “Let It Go”. I would be surprised if the song is not put down in history as the best coming out song in history even though it wasn’t directly written for the purpose.
So let’s get down to why Elsa is now a favourite amongst the LGBT community. Elsa has been born with powers. And while that may not speak miles about the character’s difference, when Elsa accidentally hurts her sister and are taken to the Trolls, the leader asks the parents “Born or Cursed?” to which they reply “Born”. For decades LGBT has been labeled as a lifestyle choice and only now has it started being accepted that you’re born that way. Her father keeps repeating to her “Conceal, don’t feel” and locks her away from human eyes. As a result, Elsa suppresses who she is and what she was born with, marginalised and denied the company of her sister. These experiences influence her lack of control over her powers which come out during her coronation and she has to flee as she is being called a freak and a witch by her own court. When she is finally in the mountains by herself does she start realising the greatness of her powers and sings “Let it Go”, moving on from the past into a future where she is the Queen of her own self. Her sister comes for her, only to be sent away by Elsa, who believes she is better off alone and free, not hurting anyone, than with the people she loves, but suppressed and in constant fear of hurting them. In the end it takes the act of Anna’s courage to break the harm that Elsa accidentally put on Anna’s heart and by sacrificing herself for her sister, Anna shows her true love and breaks her own curse. Anna accepts Elsa for who she is and is willing to give what remains of her life for her precious sister. The court rejoices and accepts Elsa back in the palace as their Queen, even using her powers for fun. And how comforting to see the people that rejected her at first, now embrace her and in effect Elsa being who she is without the need of self-exile. That’s why it speaks to the LGBT community. Now change powers to sexuality and you know why. If you don’t like my interpretation too bad ’cause you’re on a gay blog by a gay author of gay literature and of course that’s how I’d read it.
But even if it’s not read by Queer Studies lens, it is finally a Disney film that speaks to the modern world and reflects the changing values of society and for that, it is an instant classic.
Now I will say my goodbyes with my own cover of “Let it Go”.
Rhys out xXx