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