Frozen and the Magic of Letting Go by Stephanie Stamm

Stephanie Stamm PhotoI recently (finally) saw Disney’s Frozen—I rented it On Demand—and fell in love with the “Let It Go” sequence. I first heard the song when Idina Menzel performed it on the Oscars (yes, that would be when John Travolta flubbed her name in his introduction), and I found it powerful and moving. Within the context of the movie, it is even more so.

After her icy magic injures her little sister Anna, Princess Elsa, at her father’s urging, hides herself away and suppresses her magic, lest it escape her control and cause more damage. Both Anna and Elsa are hurt by this: Elsa, for obvious reasons, and Anna, because she doesn’t know why her sister has shut her out. Years pass, and at Elsa’s coronation as queen, her magic escapes, causing some of the townspeople to view her as a monster. She runs away, but in doing so, claims her right to be herself. That’s where the song comes in.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I tear up every time I hear the song or watch this video. To see this young woman (animated though she is) reclaiming herself and the magic that lives inside her—and to see what beauty that magic creates—speaks to something inside of me. How many of us have squashed some essential part of ourselves because we’ve believed, even been told, it was unacceptable. In doing so, how much of our own magic—and the magic of living—have we denied? This scene is a lovely extended metaphor for just how creative and beautiful that thing we have hidden away can be if we just let it out, give it voice.

I’m impressed and pleased with Disney’s portrayal of Elsa. This scene could set her up to become a classic Disney villainess (she is, after all, based on Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen and voiced by the original Elphaba in Broadway’s Wicked), but that’s not how the story plays out. Don’t get me wrong—I love some of Disney’s villainesses. Ursula from The Little Mermaid is a particular favorite. But it’s refreshing to see female power portrayed as something other than evil. Disney’s view of women does seem to be changing. Yes, she’s still Barbie-doll beautiful, but the Princess has finally become the Queen.

And what about Anna? I haven’t said much about her, but she’s also powerful—in a different way. She’s quirky and alive, strong and determined, and what she learns about herself and love is a lesson worth learning. Again, she’s a different kind of princess, one whose strength and power lie not in her physical appearance, but in her character, a character that enables her too to let something go, with beautiful results.

Have you seen Frozen? What did you think? Who is your favorite Disney villainess? What are your thoughts about the magic of letting go?

Connect with Stephanie Stamm:

http://www.stephanieastamm.com

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Stephanie Stamm doesn’t write stories about princesses, but she does write about a young woman with special powers. She is the author of the New Adult/Young Adult urban fantasy A Gift of Wings. (She is currently working on the sequel.)

A Gift of Wings Cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

She has also contributed stories (one fictional and one true) to the following volumes:

Undead of Winter Front Only Into the Storm Cover

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23 thoughts on “Frozen and the Magic of Letting Go by Stephanie Stamm

  1. Wow! This is such a wonderful post Stephanie. I have not seen Frozen nor any Disney animated movies since my children were small (my youngest is 42) so I may be missing out. I, too love the song – it’s such great inspiration to be yourself and get rid of the past. I love it! Thank you for introducing us to this special song of being oneself no matter what the cost. Guess I’ll have to head out and rent Frozen – sounds like a great movie!

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  2. This is a brilliant post, and one everyone should read and see/listen to every day. Your words perfectly complement the video. And I completely agree with you on the Elsa “more real than villain” angle. In fact, I saw an interview by the Jennifer Lee–the first female Disney director, and the first female writer turned director. Yes, she first wrote Frozen, then was asked to direct the movie. One of the things she said was that the story wasn’t the cliched one sister “good” and one sister “evil”, but that both were good, and working from a more human angle Elsa was driven by fear rather than evil, and Anna by love rather than just being the good girl. So it’s Love triumphing over Fear. And that really is the key–fear holds us back from so many good things in life. Luckily, fear didn’t hold you back from writing a terrific blog post. Bravo!

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    1. Yes, that Fear vs. Love thing is at the heart of so many things, isn’t it, Ritter? And sometimes it’s hard to know when Fear is winning–Elsa being a prime example of thinking that following her fear and hiding her magic is what makes her a good girl. The interview sounds like it’s worth looking up.

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  3. Stephanie, I, too, am such a Disney fan. Growing up in the era of black and white tv, going to see a Disney movie at the theater was soo amazingly vivid in color. Loved the Disney rain, the big plops of water always made me want to run out and play in the rain. Haven’t seen Frozen yet, but now, I’m hooked. Thank you.

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  4. ” . . . just how creative and beautiful that thing we have hidden away can be if we just let it out, give it voice.”

    So true. 🙂

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  5. Lovely post, Stephanie. My daughter brought the movie to us a week ago but I haven’t watched it, yet. Must give up the internet, my ‘reading to review’ for other authors, and just chill out for a bit and watch it since you recommend it so well. 🙂

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  6. Love this. I agree with what you say about the older sister but what I really loved about the younger sister is that she started out expecting to be healed from her frozen heart by someone performing an act of true love to her. Instead, she performed the act of true love in saving her sister, and thus saved herself. Both sisters were strong, brave and took charge of their own lives in ways Disney has moved toward but hadn’t truly achieved until now. What irks the crap out of me is that some fundamentalist group said that Frozen promoted lesbianism because one girl saved another for “true love.” Give me a break. – Anyway, Great post!

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    1. OMG, I hadn’t heard that. That is incredibly irksome. I too thought that was one of the beautiful things about the movie–that Anna performs the act of true love and that it’s for her sister. Thanks, Erin!

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  7. Like many others, I haven’t seen the film, but I’ve heard excellent things about it and now with your post, it seems like I should watch it. I’ve seen several Disney animated movies, and of course I’ll show my age with this, but my favorite will always be “Cinderella” — I can’t count the number of times I’ve watched that, even as an adult. I think every woman has a Cinderella locked up inside her, and though we may not all have evil stepmothers or sisters, we can hear those “voices” inside us telling us we’re not worthy, beautiful, or treasured — but we are, and Cinderella is a great reminder. Thanks for a wonderful blog post, Stephanie!

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