Why isn't Elsa a Disney princess?
But there is also hope: "From a feminist point of view, princess films should not only be viewed critically," says Beatrice Frasl. "In the fictional societies represented, they are endowed with an above-average amount of power." Frasl is doing research on film, gender and Disney princesses at the University of Vienna. She sees three phases of Disney princess films. The classic phase up to Walt Disney's death in 1966 with "Snow White"; the post-feminist one in the 1990s with "Pocahontas" and others who followed the girl power narratives of the time; and the Disney films since 2000, which Frasl classifies as professional.
In May 2015 there was already a similar academic attempt to fathom the ice queen's success: the "Symfrozium", a conference at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, UK. Some scientists compared Elsa with dangerous superheroes like Catwoman, others had researched how the film is received by anorexics: Some patients see "Let go now" as an inspiration to leave the illness behind; some felt, however, confirmed, after all, there is no eating in the whole film and even the chocolate is only sniffed. Also a big topic at the conference: Elsa's sexuality.
Amy Davis from the University of Hull, UK attended the conference. She is the author of the book "Good Girls and Wicked Witches". Question to Amy Davis: Could Elsa be homosexual? After all, many Twitter users use the hashtag #GiveElsaAGirlfriend to urge the filmmakers to let the princess be openly lesbian in the sequel.
"Frozen" is a film about love, but not in the classic sense
A sigh on the other end of the line. "Her trip has nothing to do with her sexuality. I don't understand why people want to put a romantic side on her." Davis only has one explanation for this: The demand for sexual diversity in a Disney blockbuster is due to the zeitgeist. Elsa offers a projection surface. Like it or not, the film has good timing. The world has been waiting for him.
Davis goes back: For a long time Hollywood thought that female protagonists only worked in comedies; But "Frozen" and later "Wonder Woman" have shown the male-dominated industry how successful real heroines can be. It didn't hurt that it was the first time a major Disney animated film was co-directed by a woman, Jennifer Lee. A story about women is better told by women. Especially since the film thematizes female solidarity, it is about women who are not in competition with one another. That is new. In "Snow White", for example, the protagonists also have a connection to one another, but they are enemies.
"Frozen" is a film about love, but not in the classic sense. The basic feminist message of the film, according to Davis: Women can be happy without romantic love. Anna, for example, falls in love and becomes engaged like no other Disney character before her, she gets her prince - but it doesn't work out. Other types of love emerge later. At some point, the ice cream dealer Kristoff says the sentence: "Ice cream is my life." The snowman Olaf basically loves hugs. And at the very end, love between siblings wins. Children can understand them too. Or as the princess expert Frasl explains: "Your five-year-old daughter is probably more concerned about platonic relationships than about the Prince Charming."
The search for the film's formula for success seems to end with true love, but without real success - if the perplexed father would not be shown a path all at once, almost as if on a hero's journey. After the interview, Amy Davis is asked if she even likes the film. "At first I didn't like it. Because of the damn song. It was heard everywhere back then. You know for sure that Elsa only became a heroine in the production because of this song, right?" Of course, they say, in order to get the relevant reading as quickly as possible.
Charles Duhigg tells the real fairy tale in his book "Smarter Faster Better": the story of "Let It Go". When the song was written, production of the film was already in progress, and it wasn't going very well. Time was pressing, but the story was still full of holes, the character of Anna was considered too uptight, her sister too diabolical. Elsa was the wicked witch of the film.
Kristen Anderson-Lopez and her husband Robert Lopez were supposed to write songs for the film. Because the script kept being overturned, the couple had already had to throw away several songs, it was frustrating. One day the two were walking in Prospect Park in Brooklyn and talking about Elsa. How would it feel to try your whole life to do everything right, only to end up being subject to other people's judgment?
Kristen Anderson-Lopez herself knew the feeling: She wanted to be professionally successful and at the same time a good mother. That was demanding, she could feel the looks of other parents when she let her daughters play with the iPad in the restaurant. That's why the composer definitely didn't want Elsa to apologize. She wanted to write a song for her that was about the pressure of perfection and the liberation from it. In the park she sang the chorus. Here too: good timing for a world in which the costs of self-optimization weigh on many people's chests.
The couple immediately recorded a sketch of the song at home and thus convinced the "Frozen" makers. Because of the song, the script was rewritten and the story took on a completely new direction. Elsa went from being a bad witch to being a good witch, not a simple princess, but a complicated heroine. And the Lopez couple got an Oscar and a Grammy.
Amy Davis again: "I understand what children like about the song. I am a trained singer myself. You can shout out the chorus well. This is especially liberating for girls who are always directly or indirectly conveyed to them, they should hold back. "
The song. Now you also notice that the film seems to remind our daughter of "Let go now" and not the other way around. That she rarely plays Elsa, but often sings about the white, shiny snow. So there may not be an Anna and Elsa formula that explains everything, but it may well be that our daughter does not like princesses as she feared. But on Helene Fischer.
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