Frozen, Disney, and True Love
So everyone in the universe has seen ‘Frozen’ at this point. Among a majority of the film’s positive reviews (including my own), one of the most common points of raise was the theme of subverting clichés associated with the House of Mouse.
In particular, ‘Frozen’ draws attention to the idea of two individuals falling in love over the course of less than a week. While this idea is obviously very questionable in real life, some see the portrayal of the trope in Frozen as invalidating any future uses of the trope by Disney.
What this essentially means is that many don’t think Disney can ever use the trope again without being hypocritical or just plain lazy. I myself don’t see this as a problem, I don’t think Frozen’s subversion preemptively stops Disney from playing their “classic formula” straight ever again. Let me explain why.
Unlike most of Disney’s stories where two parties fall in love over a short time period, Ana and Hans don’t “fall in love” over the course of a conflict.
In stories like ‘Princess and The Frog’ and ‘Tangled’, the two lovers come together during an adventure filled with life threatening circumstances. It’s a general conceit (especially in fiction) that people reveal their true selves when put in danger. The couples don’t just grow close by spending quality time together, they grow close by spending time together in exactly the right situations required to prove themselves as individuals with genuine chemistry.
The same goes for a story like ‘Beauty and The Beast’ or ‘The Little Mermaid’. In those films, there isn’t much external danger until the third act, but even then there are circumstances that demand the characters be genuine or they will face consequences. If Beast and Ariel don’t make their respective love interests fall genuinely in love with them, they’ll essentially be deformed for the rest of their lives. Only by being the very best of themselves can they accomplish this in the allotted time, so that’s what they do.
Unlike the above, Hans spends a single night with Ana without any circumstances forcing him to be genuine. He’s not required to act in any way other than how he wants. Which, as we know, is being a giant ass.
Had Ana and Hans gone on an adventurous journey together like Ana and Kristoff did, Hans would’ve either done something to expose his manipulation and selfishness, or became a better person to the point where their romance would be genuine. Likewise for if there had there been some predetermined consequence for Hans not being a genuinely good person.
By bringing this up I don’t mean to devalue the subversion at all. I only mean to imply that the “true love over the course of a couple of days” trope isn’t nearly discredited by the subversion, and I don’t think that it would automatically be negative or hypocritical of Disney to use the trope in a following movie. There is a genuine element to just about every Disney romance that I think deserves to be acknowledged as at the very least decent screenwriting.
But what about you think? Do you think it would be a bad thing for Disney to portray romance the same way they did in movies pre-Frozen, or is it really not that big a deal?