Tuesday, February 18, 2014

"Frozen" versus "Brave"

I doubt that this will mean anything to you if you haven't seen both of the movies referenced here so read on at your own risk of spoilers and pointless analysis.
I should say here and now that I'm getting tired of people talking about how great "Frozen" is. Yes, we get it, you liked the snowman and the fact that there is an inkling of some rational thought inside the picture. Romance takes a back seat for the movie, but by no means is it gone for good. No, that wouldn't make any sense.
Still "Frozen" resembles another movie that came out a few years prior: "Brave". The similarities between the two movies are very striking. Both deal with a tom-boy-ish princess, both make comments about how men and marriages aren't necessary, both are about family love instead of romantic love, both are set in a far off, magical lands, and both involve a quest to reunite the princesses with their families. Add these to the cute sidekicks (triplets that turn into bears and a talking snowman—both sidekick-like characters have been altered by magic), the fearsome beasts (a huge bear and a giant snow-monster) and the two movies don't seem that far apart.

"Frozen" more so than "Brave" has been and is being praised as a feminist movie and if it's not feminism that's being exemplified, it's certainly progressiveness at the least. Think about it—the main character isn't the main character, romance is ditched in place of sisterly love (but it does come back), and comments are made about how foolish it is to marry someone you just met...preach on, "Frozen". But I think that all the film is good for is having a fun time. The moral of the film is non-existent. If it's saying that sisterly love is better than sexual romance (or whatever you wish to call it), then why do we have to have a romance at the end. One of our characters gets happily married while the other one (who is probably emotionally unstable) is left alone with the barren remnants of her cold heart—yes, that's a little harsh, but that's what I see. You don't need a man—just kidding!—you need a man.
I say to "Frozen": hmmmmmm.

Yet for all these people who are posting article after article about how wonderful "Frozen" is because it's so "progressive", I ask you to remember Pixar's film "Brave". In it, we have a princess who doesn't need a man and never gets one, but that's okay. Her parents want her to marry for political gain, but she harnesses her true independence, knowing who she is, and says no. Her stubbornness and lack of compromise, her unwillingness to obey her parents turn their relationship sour and she accidentally transforms her mother into a bear—oops!

Right from the start, "Brave" has something that "Frozen" doesn't: parents. Disney loves killing off the progenitors and it happens again in "Frozen". In fact, the only Disney flicks where both parents are alive and present throughout the entirety of the film are "101 Dalmatians" and "Peter Pan". Neither of these are considered to be Disney classics. Think back on your favorite, where were the parents? For me, it's "The Lion King" in which a jealous brother carelessly tosses his kin to his death and a son runs away from home, away from his mother.
"Brave" bravely (see what I did there?) tackles the subject that Disney has long shied away from—conflict with parents. Merida and her mother trade sparring words. They fight, sometimes physically, and the end of the film is about a resolution in mother-daughter realtionships. You could argue that the physical mending is not necessary, but instead it is a metaphor. Merida has to race against the clock to keep her mother from permanently turning into a beast—a beast that she made. The bond that was broken is possibly just their relationship and doesn't refer to a meager tapestry.
So in this case, "Brave" wins simply because it doesn't backtrack on its own statement. At the movie's closing, Merida remains unmarried and she and her mother have a closer relationship. This film isn't saying that everything will be perfect from now on. No, more conflict will arise; but for the present, everything is fine.
"Frozen" tried too hard. You have the statements condemning a fast marriage (even though a fast marriage is implied by the movie's final frames) and then there's all the politics. Supposedly, this film is revolutionary for a few reasons—how it treats the sisters and the little things that sneak into the background. I heard opinions about how the film is supportive of gay marriage—a gay relationship at least—and they show this by hiding it in a minor character who barely shows up at all. Wouldn't it be bolder, more controversial and more politically forward to make a lead character who was a homosexual. For instance, what's so frightening about a princess who is a lesbian?......oooooh, the taboo subject. Though Jonathan Groff is openly gay, he voices a straight character.
In the same way that people shy away from a gay prince, "Frozen" shies away from its own sentiments. Elsa is the magical princess who will probably spend the rest of her days in sweet, sweet isolation. Perhaps she wants to be alone—so here "Frozen" might have the upper hand.
Besides one begin a musical and one not, the differences of the two movies start to become more and more obvious when you look closer.  Though both deal with family love (as I've stated and will continue to state) "Brave" is truly about a family loving each other through the bumps in the road

 while "Frozen" is exclusively about the love between sisters...and their lovers.

But the people have spoken and "Frozen" continues to rake in the box office dough.
It's the best contender for the animated feature Oscar and "Let it Go" has a good chance for a golden statue as well. Even though both movies deal with acceptance of responsibilities, "Braces" tackles the subject much less obtusely. Merida struggles under the rule of her parents and she goes out into the woods to see what she can do to change that. What she meets there is her destiny—the main and almost offensively blatant point of "Brave" is that a good princess will obey her parents. But not only that,  good parents will listen to their children; because the end is about a compromise. Merida has to give some and the parents have to give some. She's not free to do as she pleases, and they don't treat her as if she hadn't reached her independence yet.
"Frozen" witnesses a girl, grief-stricken by being "different" plunging into the icy tundra and turning the landscape white, just trying to be alone. She thinks that she can escape her responsibility by not communicating with her sister—but her sister comes for her anyway. Destiny calls to Merida; but it knocks on Elsa's front door.
I don't judge "Frozen" for trying to be a little more rational, I judge it for failing at being rational and I judge it for being just an "okay" movie. By cinematic standards, every character is needed in "Brave" and "Frozen" is filled with people that just take up screen time.
There are filler songs, like the beginning ice-breaking song in "Frozen". It in no way influences the rest of the movie or has any forbearance on what we're about to see—it's just there to be there. Only after the song is finished do we get an introduction to the characters and the people who sang the song vanish for the rest of the movie, presenting the idea that the Kristoff is an outcast as well, operating on the outskirts of society.
It could boil down to me simply liking "Brave" more, I'm allowed to do that. I see it as a more complete and better done film—not one that truncates its own point before its fully made. If you like "Frozen"—good for you...I'm happy for you. There's nothing evil in the picture and I'm sure that it will endear itself to many children for years to come.
But please, please stop making it seem like "Frozen" is a renaissance in children's movie making—because that's just nonsense.

This is a whole lot scarier than anything seen in "Frozen". So the villain count goes to "Brave" again...though Merida could be her own worst enemy.
Alright, now I'm done.

I've copied this from my other blog, just trying to get this one off its feet.

No comments:

Post a Comment