Why Elsa Not Having a Prince in Frozen Is Actually a Problem
"The young, hot queen of a powerful nation has just come of age and is throwing a party? Quick, let's send absolutely NO ONE of political significance who is handsome and charming."
Like every other parent in the country, I've spent the last week watching Frozen on endless repeat thanks to the DVD release. It's OK, really, I like the film a lot, and there are worse things my daughter has forced into my head over and over again.
However, something has been bothering me about the movie. No, not the hidden gay agenda thing. I'm totally cool with that. What bothers me is that Elsa at no point in the story ever seems to want or need a prince to marry, and that is actually a problem.
Now, before you head to the comments and start screaming about the patriarchy, let me state that I am glad to finally get a female-led Disney film more focused on the nature of sisterhood than simply hooking the pretty people up for a fairytale wedding. It was a welcome change of pace that has been long overdue. In terms of groundbreaking (For Disney) character growth and gender roles, Frozen leaves the rest all behind. I applaud that.
My objections are more practical, and I freely admit that they may be colored by all the Game of Thrones I've been reading.
Flashback Brave Is Totally Game of Thrones
Here's the deal... The kingdom of Arendelle was ruled by a king and queen, and they had only two children, both girls. The king and queen died when the girls were young, placing the eldest, Elsa, not only in line for the thrones but an active regent likely under the care of a council of advisers or parliament. Her sister Anna remains next in line to rule.
So for 13 years Elsa is locked away from the rest of the world awaiting the date of her maturity and ascendency to the throne. We know that Arendelle is an unusually prosperous kingdom because the Duke of Weselton specifically says that it is. The crowing of Queen Elsa brings visitors from all across the world.
Which is where things get strange.
Again, remember that the girls have been in isolation for more than a decade. They are young, rumored to be beautiful, one is to be queen and her close sister is currently the next in line, presumably they are fertile, and maybe most importantly they are inexperienced.
Yet, aside from the Duke and Hans almost nobody has come to Arendelle looking to exploit these facts, nor does it ever really come up. Hans is particularly troubling. He freely admits to having 12 older brothers that effectively bar him from his own throne and likely from any position of true power unless he proves militarily adept or something like that. It's this jealousy that drove him to try to woo Elsa, and barring her Anna.
The question is "Why the hell didn't his brothers show up to try the same thing?" Are they all idiots?
This story continues on the next page.
At first me noticing this (On viewing six) helped better explain Elsa's initial rejection of Anna's wish to marry Hans. In addition to the fact that marrying people you just met is stupid outside of Disney movies, she was likely just as concerned with placing a thirteenth-rate nobody that close to the throne. I'm not saying that she knew Hans was plotting her death. She clearly didn't, but she did know the worth of his hand in marriage and presumably thought more highly of her sister's own value both her self and the kingdom.
And of course she couldn't explain any of this to Anna. Elsa had to have been undergoing training for her future rule as queen, whereas Anna spent most of her isolation going stir-crazy with longing for human affection. It all makes sense!
Then I realized that even though there was dancing and a party, likely specifically held to help her begin the process of finding a husband to continue the royal line, Elsa does not seem to consider any responsibility to attend to visiting royalty for that purpose. No, not every woman needs a man or vice versa, but every monarchy does need babies. Yet neither Elsa nor the majority of her guests pursue this basic function of their ruling class.
I understand that none of this is what the movie is about. And hey, you could also take the whole plot where Elsa reveals and masters her powers to be an act of establishing even more independent power for Arendelle despite nothing like that being hinted at in the film. I'm happy to see a string of Dinsey films empowering young girls by having heroines that do not require romantic counterparts to complete or define them. That's very much progress.
On the other hand, I do wish they'd quit making their points using outdated systems of government where this stuff is simply unfeasible. It would make the adults goaded into over-analyzation through repeated viewings a little less twitchy. At least it would me.
Get the Theater and Arts Newsletter
Exclusive discounts and announcements to Houston theater shows and art events