[Spoiler warning: there are pictures from the movie, but nothing completely spoilery. For the section where I do write about and reveal plot points, I’ve made the text white for your convenience, should you have not seen the movie; unless you highlight that part you can’t read it/have the ending spoiled for you.]
Something phenomenal happened while I was in Australia: Frozen was released in Korea. And in the time it took for me to come back (aka 2 weeks), it’s gripped the nation more firmly than Elsa’s ice over Arendelle.
I don’t even know how many times I’ve heard “Let it Go” play on the staffroom radio – but over the course of a single hour in there, it’s not uncommon to hear it twice (or more).
Additionally, this has had an amusing effect on my presence in Korea. Ever since I dyed my hair blonde two years ago, people have said I look like either one (or both) of two characters: Khaleesi and Luna Lovegood.
Frankly it’s an honour to be likened to either one, since the former is a badass dragon queen (not to mention rightful ruler of the Iron Throne, ahem), and the latter is just amazingly quirky in and of herself (I’ve oft considered stringing a necklace of wine corks in lieu of Butterbeer corks in her honour).
These days, though, I’ve been getting a third, “Omg-you-look-so-much-like__!” – and that third is Elsa. My students jump around me pointing, “Elsa, Elsa!!” and then ask me to sing “Let it Go” for them. Which I usually indulge because it makes them flip their shit.
But it’s not just the kids: adults (mostly coworkers) have been doing double takes of me lately, like they’re seeing a superimposed image of Disney’s ice queen over my face. Especially since I French braid my hair (I swear I did it before the movie).
But it’s not just the adults, either: it’s also me – and my sister.
R, my wonderful ginger sister, has been trying to get me to watch Frozen for months now. Until it was released in the rest of the world, wayyy back in November, I had no idea what it was about. R summarized it simply and easily.
“It’s about you and me,” she said.
“Mhmm,” I said.
“No really!” she insisted.
So I put it on the backlog of my brain; should it ever show up in a theater in Korea, I’d go see it. And then it exploded here. The time had come.
Not that I actually got around to seeing it in the theater…it took me until last week to get around to it via a digital copy – downloaded tricksily by a coworker with “PROPERTY OF DISNEY DO NOT REPLICATE” stamped across the first five minutes.
I gladly watched it anyway, eager to see what it was about. I was wary that it would be like Tangled, where I watched it maaaaaaany months after its craze and it didn’t live up to the hype (sorry, Tangled fans – it wasn’t bad, just not as good as everyone made it out to be).
But Frozen was different from the start. Because R was exactly right: it was about her and I. In explanation, I shall use Sudden Clarity Clarence:
I realize there are some of you readers who have never seen my sister. Feast your eyes below.
[EDIT: Look! My mother’s provided a snow picture of me and R!]
Three years younger than I am, she’s lively, adorable, and affectionate – not to mention dramatic (studying theater), while I’m comparatively quiet, serious, and unaffectionate – and spend most of my time in my room, though this is usually reading or writing rather than freezing everything in sight. When I was younger I’d also always tell her to go away (though this was because I was mean rather than struggling through a horrible secret). That said, there was always a closed door between us, literal or metaphorical, until I opened it many years later when we became best buddies.
I had no idea about any of this when I started the movie.
Watching it was such an unexpected onslaught of feels that I didn’t even know what to do with myself. All I knew was that choosing to watch it alone in my apartment was a poor choice; I was weeping within minutes because of all the sister feels it was giving me.
“When was the last time you spoke to your sister?” asked my cold, frozen heart. “YEAH THAT’S RIGHT YOU DON’T EVEN REMEMBER.”
Probably better I didn’t talk to her though, cuz it would have looked a lot like this.
Anyway so I watched it and went to work the next day feeling somewhere between warm-and-fuzzy and straight up dishevelled. Talked to Andrea about it because she’s the closest I have to a sister here – my sister from another mister. Turned out she felt the same about it – except that her actual sister is visiting and they’d had the sense to watch it together.
We decided to hang out on the weekend, because I was also feeling the need for some company after the lonely departure from Oz, and Andrea’s sister wanted to go to the penis park before leaving. Sadly Queen Elsa hated on Gangwon-do and dumped 80 cm of snow on the majority of the province. No penis park for us.
Instead we went out drinking all night – ending up, where else, at a norae-bang. Somewhere in the course of the evening, everyone in the group had started gushing on Frozen, so when we got to the norae-bang, one of the first things we sang was “Let it Go”.
The server arrived in the middle of the song to bring us chicken and liquor, and when we blasted him with our dulcet karaoke, he grinned.
“Let it go?” he said.
“YEAAHHHHHHH!!!” we all cheered.
Throughout the night, when sneaking through the halls to the bathroom, we heard at least three other rooms singing it as well. The staff are either sick of it, or highly amused. Probably a little of both.
Many hours and pitchers of cocktails later, we released ourselves onto the streets to find some drunk-people food. Fittingly enough, the light snowflakes that had begun earlier in the day had turned the whole place into a magical frozen world with fluffy piles of white silently coating the cars and streets.
We all marvelled at how beautiful it looked. And because we’re nothing other than a big group of kids, we caught falling snow on our tongues and kicked up the deepening drifts. The Korean passers-by gave us judgmental stares.
“Silly waygooks,” we knew they muttered (or at least thought).
This was especially true when we broke out into an impromptu snowball fight. Using the cars as fortresses and balling the snow covering their hoods and windows, we ran amok through the streets launching hard-packed ammunition down each other’s coats. I’m pretty sure we made more than a few locals duck.
All this ice and snow and merriment had us singing the whole soundtrack through the night.
By the time we called it a night, it was irrefutably decided that we had to watch Frozen again tomorrow in the theater – especially since only a couple of us had seen it in 3D, and – it transpired – one or two admitted they hadn’t seen it at all.
Granted, it was 5am by the time we went to bed, so it was hard getting up in the morning.
But as soon as we messaged each other “Frozen?”, we immediately summoned the power to raise ourselves from the pillows
There was a 2:30 showing – perfect for me to be able to watch the movie, have some shabu shabu with everyone, and then grab my bus back to Cheongju.
The 3D is amazing and if you can, that’s the way you should watch it. The animation – well what can you even say about it other than it was masterful? In fact, I only have one serious complaint to lodge about this film – which you will have to highlight in (aka drag your mouse across) the white space below in order to read because I don’t want to be all spoiler-y for the peeps who have yet to see it.
My complaint is in the film’s conflict. In other words, all that surrounds Prince Hans. I thought he was quite under-developed, though I can see what they were doing in making him that cliche blank romantic interest only to then turn it around and give him ulterior motive. Since a good portion of the movie’s message was about the fallacy of “love”-at-first-sight, it makes sense that they did a throwback to the empty archetypes of Disney-films-past. Vilifying him helped both to critique this trope and gave him a tad more depth, but he could have done with even more character rounding. This could have been done in one simple way – which brings me to my next point.
The one thing the movie was missing was a villain song. This was pointed out to me by one of my fellow movie-goers, and while I had been ruminating on the fact that I thought there was an issue in lack of conflict, this crystallized my sentiments. Every Disney movie has its villain song: Ursula’s “Poor Unfortunate Souls” instills the panic of spontaneous decision and consequence. Scar’s “Be Prepared” scares the pants off of you, but gets you really pumped, makes you feel that imminent danger. Even Gaston’s theme song by his sidekick, though not scary, fleshes out a potentially not-so-threatening villain and makes him into a dangerous three-dimensional conflict.
Frozen lacks this. And until it was pointed out, I couldn’t help but feel that nagging dissatisfaction that something was missing. That moment when Prince Hans is about to kiss Anna and then tells her, “Too bad there isn’t anyone who loves you”: wouldn’t that make a great song? They could have tied in Anna’s freezing heart and how her sister locked her out for near-on her whole life and built on that, developed Anna’s loneliness and Prince Hans’ cruel manipulation of her feelings. He explains it all in dialogue, but wouldn’t a song have made the reveal so much better? So much more Disney? They already had the imagery of Anna leaning against the door like Elsa, and they could have cemented that with a grand finale to the song, Prince Hans closing the door (I can almost hear the lyrics: “Another locked door/And you couldn’t be more alone!”), and chuckling evilly to himself as he strides down the hallway to claim Arendelle for his own.
Maybe I get ahead of myself. Granted, the reveal of villainy came along late enough in the film that I can understand if it would have felt rushed, or perhaps ruined the moment. But even without a villain song, it still felt like there needed an additional level of conflict. Jafar, Maleficent, Captain Hook, Hades – these were all constant threats throughout their respective movies. The constant threat in Frozen was Elsa herself, but because this threat was based on uncontrolled emotion and she was in no way villainized – in fact she was anti-villainized by Anna’s confidence that Elsa would be able to reverse the snow no problemo – it didn’t feel like there was enough at stake. Most of the dire peril was dished out at the end – the ice in Anna’s heart, Elsa’s imprisonment, and of course Prince Hans.
But anyway, I’ll wrap up the critique there because while all this is true, ever since putting my finger on the problem, I’ve been totally okay with overlooking it. It was more the nag of “but there’s something…!” than actual frustration with the movie. The movie is great, and I’m just going to appreciate it for what it is. /analysismode
Okay you can start reading again, all y’all who haven’t watched! No spoilers for you!!
So we left the theater, feeling somewhere between elated and gassy.
We headed over to get some food, and it was in the taxi ride over that I reminded Andrea of the promise she’d made whilst inebriated that I will continue to hold her to forevermore: that she sew me an Elsa dress. I’m super excited about the prospect of this because I’d absolutely love to cosplay with R as Elsa and Anna at comic con. It would be too perfect an opportunity to miss. And I’ve promised Andrea that I will repay her in many cooked meals, particularly breakfasts with homemade hashbrowns.
When we got to the restaurant, we had a decadent feast of shabu shabu – hot Japanese fondue soup. And what’s the only thing that makes that moment better?
Giving ourselves our own soundtrack as we ate. I’ll leave you to guessing at which soundtrack that was.
Here’s a multi-language mashup of “Let It Go”, just because it’s awesomesauce.
And that’s my long but necessary post about Frozen. Of you guys who have seen it, what did you think?