There are certain themes that we would expect from a Frozen film – sisterhood, the acceptance of those who are different, love – but the popular Disney franchise introduced a new, slightly different theme this time: colonialism.
It’s not something that is overtly part of the storyline – we don’t have Christopher Columbus or Jan van Riebeeck popping up – but it’s a theme because Elsa and Anna are, after all, members of a royal family. They do have some checkered history to deal with.
Warning: Spoiler alert
Okay, so what is Frozen 2 about?
Set three years after the original film, Frozen 2 has Elsa serving as Queen of Arendelle. Through a flashback, we learn (from Elsa and Anna’s father, King Agnarr) that there is a nearby enchanted forest that is inhabited by the Northuldra tribe. When he was a boy, Agnarr and his father, King Runeard, gave the tribe an offering of peace – a dam. Before long, fighting took place between the two communities, King Runeard died, and King Agnarr was dispelled from the forest, while a fog settled over the forest and no-one was able to enter or exit.
Elsa then hears a siren call, which leads her and her merry band (Anna, Kristoff, Sven and Olaf) to the forest to try to find out what happened in the past and how to restore the forest and the people.
It was! The movie seemed to present a lot of themes and ideas without fully fleshing out any of them. It is like it tried too hard to be everything for everyone, correcting mistakes from the previous film while staying true to the sisterhood nature that made it famous.
Even though the first movie was refreshingly different, it still had a villain, a relatively easy-to-follow plot, and everything was tied together neatly. The sequel, though, seemed to pose more questions than answers, and knitted together many twists and interlinking storylines that, at times, made us feel dizzy.
What is this about colonialism?
Through the flashbacks and the convenient aid of water (which turns memories into ice sculptures or literally movies within the movies), we learn that King Runeard’s gift of the dam was not a gift of peace, but was actually given to weaken the Northuldra land so that they would have to turn to Arendelle for aid (thus becoming a colony). The king also killed the Northuldra leader when he was found out, and this is what caused the elemental gods of the forest to seal it off.
As a South African watching this, the parallels of the struggle of the indigenous people and the generations-long repercussions of colonialism is easy to identify with. Elsa and Anna were not part of their grandfather’s betrayal, but they are profiting off of it, and so it is up to them to right the wrongs. Even though the topic is skimmed over, the ‘solution’ is beautifully depicted, with Anna sacrificing Arendelle in order to save the forest and set the people free. It’s a selfless act from the part of the oppressors that creates harmony between the two nations again.
Okay, but will my kids/younger siblings/nephews and nieces enjoy it?
So we have spoken about the heavier themes surrounding the film, but believe me, this does not hinder children’s enjoyment of the movie – especially because of Olaf. Olaf, the snowman sidekick who was introduced to us in the first film, served most of the comedic relief throughout the movie. There is an especially brilliant scene where he reenacts everything that happened in the first movie via ice-dance. The kids in my screening went hysterical during every minute that Olaf was onscreen.
Themes such as sisterhood, love and harmony are still prevalent and digestible enough for kids to be able to understand. Even the more serious points about respecting nature, understanding people who are different and righting wrongs are displayed in a way that will make kids think about these aspects long after the movie is over.
Are the songs at least catchy?
OMG, yes! They might not be on the Let It Go level, but they’re super-close. Elsa’s tracks Into The Unknown and Show Yourself are powerful ballads that make you feel all the things. In the end credits, Panic! At the Disco does a version of Into The Unknown, which is so brilliant that you need to listen to it right now.
Kristoff also does an amazing ballad called Lost In The Woods, which is done in the style of ’80s music videos of artists such as Michael Bolton and Queen. It is hilarious and so well done. There are plenty more songs that you will probably be hearing during summer. You can listen to them here:
Would I like the movie?
Here’s the thing, despite the hiccups and confusion, the movie was really enjoyable for people of all ages. I wouldn’t go as far as to say it is better than the first movie, but there were plenty of moments that truly warmed my heart. They introduced new characters who were interesting, but did not take away from the individual journeys that our original characters were on. There are moments where you want to cry, moments where you laugh, and moments where you’d want to sing along. It’s the perfect holiday movie to take the kids to!
Watch the trailer here:
Frozen 2 is in South African cinemas from 6 December 2019
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