Is Frozen 2 The Feminist Film We Never Knew We Needed?

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We’re all aware that the 2013 movie Frozen was a huge hit. It spawned toys, games and even recorders. Anything that they could make into a toy from this movie, was made. So it was no surprise when Frozen 2 was said to be in development. There were lots of complaints about this. Namely, no one really wanted a Frozen sequel, especially given Disney’s track record with sub-par sequels.

However, even if “Let it Go” was stuck in my head for like three years after the first movie’s official release, I was still excited for Frozen 2. Written by Jennifer Lee and Allison Schroeder, and directed by Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, this movie blew me away. It was the most visually stunning animated movie I’ve seen in a while, and on top of having an incredibly fun and intense plotline, Anna (Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel) are complex and strong female leads.

Frozen 2 Takes Us Into The Unknown

Frozen 2 follows Elsa and Anna after the events of the first movie. They’ve all settled into their new lives and are used to everything staying the same. They’re happy. Kristoff (Johnathan Groff) is thinking about proposing and Anna is happy to be by her sister’s side.

Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, and Sven stand outside of the enchanted forest.
© 2019 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

Just when everything seems nice and relaxed, Elsa begins to hear the sound of someone singing to her. She tries to ignore it, but her curiosity gets the best of her and she follows it “Into the Unknown.” The singing ends up being related to the spirits that took over an enchanted forest years ago when Elsa and Anna’s parents were young. The spirits run everyone out of Arendelle and Elsa is faced with a decision to make.

Northuldra Versus Arendelle

Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, Olaf (Josh Gad), and Sven (also Jonathan Groff) set out toward the enchanted forest to get answers and restore Arendelle. However, what they find isn’t exactly what they expected. The spirits are angry and cause trouble for the group. Inside the enchanted forest, they meet a group of Arendelle guards, led by Mattias (Sterling K. Brown), who used to be close to Agnarr (Alfred Molina), Anna and Elsa’s father. They also ran into another group, the Northuldra, led by Yelena (Martha Plimpton). The two groups are at war with each other, ever since the Arendellian soldiers arrived years ago. They offered the Northuldra the gift of a Dam, but a war broke out instead.

This upset the spirits and trapped everyone in the forest, where they’ve been ever since. As it turns out, Iduna (Evan Rachel Wood), Anna and Elsa’s mother, was a Northuldra, and when the spirits attacked the first time, she saved Agnarr and brought him back to Arendelle where they fell in love. At the present time, Northuldra and Arendellian soldiers learn of this, Elsa and Anna are determined to find peace between the two and help all of them finally escape the enchanted forest.

The River Ahtohallan

At the very beginning of the film, we get a flashback where Iduna and Agnarr share their stories about the enchanted forest. After the story, Iduna sings Elsa and Anna the first song of the movie, “All is Found.” It mentions a river called Ahtohallan, where all questions can be answered. It’s said to hold the history of their people. At Frozen 2′s halfway point, we discover that the shipwreck that killed Iduna and Agnarr wasn’t in the south sea at all, but on their way to Ahtohallan. They were traveling there in search of answers about Elsa’s powers but instead were killed.

Anna and Elsa holding hands and looking into an abyss.
© 2019 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

Of course, when Elsa learns of this, she is determined to get to the river herself. When Anna tries to follow, Elsa pushes her away and heads out on her own. Ultimately, she pushes herself too far and ends up frozen at the bottom of Ahtohallan, leaving Anna to rescue her. If you’re looking for a more in-depth review of the movie, there’s a great one right here.

Does Frozen 2 Pass The Bechdel Test?

If you’ve never heard of the Bechdel Test, it’s a simple test for movies created by Allison Bechdel. The test has three rules. Number one, the movie must have two named female characters. Number two, they must talk to each other, and number three, they have to talk to each other about something other than a guy. The funny thing is, Frozen 2 passes the Bechdel Test with flying colors, obviously.

The two main characters are females and they spend the entire movie talking to each other about more than just silly men. However, if there was a reverse Bechdel Test, meaning it tested the movie to see if the male characters weren’t stereotypical or not complex, it might fail. Of course, there isn’t a reverse Bechdel Test, because, since the beginning of time, men have been center stage in feature films (and pretty much all media).

The Reverse Bechdel Test

There are many male characters in Frozen 2. Kristoff, Olaf, Mattias, and Agnarr. However, none of these characters really interact much. The most meaningful male relationship in the film is between Kristoff and Olaf, and they don’t even spend that much time in conversation.

Sven and Olaf being adorable.
© 2019 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

All that to say, it’s nice to see females at the forefront of this film, and it’s almost comical at the lack of complex males. In a perfect world, everyone would find their own representation on screen and it would be magical. But for now, in 2019, having one film led by two strong women is way more important to me than if it passes the made-up reverse Bechdel Test.

Character Development In Frozen 2

Overall, Frozen 2 is a great film in terms of character development. Everyone is much more fully formed than they were in the first film. Their relationships have grown and we know more about them. They’re more than the flaws they had in the first film. For example, Anna isn’t just a princess in search of love anymore. She has an actual drive and passion.

Queen Elsa Of Arendelle

In the first movie, Elsa is painted as the villain. She doesn’t know how to control her powers and she doesn’t want anyone around her out of fear that she may hurt someone. In Frozen 2 she has a better understanding of what she can do with her powers and is never worried about causing anyone pain. She frequently shoots ice beams near Anna and company. Elsa is the star of the show. She’s headstrong and often forgets to include other people when she’s heading out on missions. She frequently tries to do everything herself. However, she thinks she’s protecting those around her when she’s really just pushing them away.

Elsa is underwater with the water spirit in Frozen 2.
© 2019 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

One of the best things about Elsa is that she doesn’t get a love interest. It’s one of only a handful of Disney movies (and movies in general) where the leading lady doesn’t have a love interest. And it’s not even missed. She has some moments with a Northuldra female, that some viewed as flirtatious (me, I mean me), but other than that, she doesn’t get a love interest. Elsa is the definition of a strong female lead. She doesn’t take orders from anyone and plans her own destiny. The best part of this? She’s strong and knows what she wants and no one interprets that as her being bossy or mean, which is leagues ahead of many other female-led films.

Princess Anna

Anna’s character development has got to be my favorite part of Frozen 2. Don’t get me wrong, I loved her in the first movie, but there’s something about her character this time around that really has me in love. In the first movie, Anna’s main plotline was her love interest turned evil, Hans. And then Kristoff toward the end of the movie. Of course, she also wanted to save her sister and restore Arendelle, but she was awfully focused on love. This isn’t a bad thing, but I was happy to see that her Frozen 2 storyline wasn’t driven by love.

Elsa and Anna talking in Frozen 2.
© 2019 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

In fact, Anna is driven by family. We saw her love for her family in the first movie, and it’s only grown stronger in this one. Anna will do anything to protect the people that she cares about. Her relationship with her sister is the most important thing to her. She does have moments with Kristoff throughout the film, but her entire character biography isn’t based on a love interest, which is always nice to see. It seems simple, but it’s also really nice that Anna just does things. She doesn’t consult with Kristoff to see if it’s okay first, and Kristoff doesn’t question her decisions. There’s a strength in their relationship that is also often not represented on screen.

The Next Right Thing

One of the most powerful moments in Frozen 2 is when Anna finds out that Elsa has died (I said spoilers!) She sings a song about rising off the floor and taking the next step after her huge loss. It’s an incredibly powerful song and probably my favorite from the film. It also showcases the strength of her character, and that’s something I really appreciated seeing. She kept going to save the enchanted forest and Arendelle after the death of her best friend. That’s strength.

The True Queen Of Arendelle

At the very end of the movie, after we find out that Elsa is alive and well, Kristoff proposes. Of course, Anna says yes. We then see everyone in the town gathering for something exciting. I don’t know about you, but my first thought was that it was going to be their wedding. Anna walks out and is crowned the Queen of Arendelle. I love that her final win of the movie isn’t the wedding, but the kingdom.

Kristoff

Kristoff gets some incredible character development in Frozen 2. His main plotline revolves around Anna, and his desire to propose to her. He keeps trying and failing and ends up thinking that the two of them are drifting apart instead. This sounds like something a bad rom-com would give the leading lady as a storyline, so I’m psyched to see Kristoff dealing with this kind of stuff too.

Anna and Kristoff being adorable in the Frozen 2 trailer.
© 2019 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

It’s a general rule that people like to see themselves on screen, dealing with problems that they’ve also dealt with. It is really nice to see Kristoff worrying about the status of his relationship with Anna after he says something wrong. It’s the modern-day equivalent of someone thinking their friend hates them because they didn’t respond to a text.

Frozen 2 Masters Relationships

If there’s one thing that Frozen 2 excels at, it’s definitely relationships. Disney movies often only showcase one relationship in a movie, and it’s usually romantic. Frozen 2 focuses on the sisterly relationship between Anna and Elsa more than anything else. However, there’s no need to leave out love entirely. The focus on Kristoff and Anna is still very much present, though if you’re looking for a romantic movie, this definitely isn’t the one for you.

The Importance of Non-Romantic Relationships On Screen

Women have seen nothing but terrible messages thrown at them in the media since the media was even invented. We are portrayed as housewives, bakers, nags, objects, and more. The Bechdel Test proves that women are often shuffled to the corner in so many movies. The third rule is the most important. The two named women have to talk to each other about something that isn’t a man. If I had to guess, that’s probably what makes most movies fail.

Elsa being her best self in Frozen II.
© 2019 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

When movies like Frozen 2 include these strong female leads, it only shows that industries that move like this do succeed and make money. In fact, they usually make a lot of money. Women are so used to not seeing good portrayals of themselves on screen, so when there finally is one, we’re more likely to go see it. Basically, the more media that comes out including relationships like these and characters like Anna and Elsa, the more it’s going to be normal, which is should be. Imagine a world where you don’t have to see women in a movie ask a man,

“So, what do we do?”

Imagine a world where your favorite female character has more than two lines and isn’t a man’s goal. That’s why this is important, and that’s why Frozen 2 deserves a gold star for pulling off such dimensional leading ladies.

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