Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Frozen, Starring Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel, Turns Stereotypes on Their Heads

I love how this Disney princess movie turns stereotypes on their heads. Anna, second princess of Arendelle, falls in love with a handsome prince and plans to marry him. But Elsa, first princess of Arendelle, forbids their sudden marriage, unleashes her frozen power on the kingdom, then flees. Anna leaves Arendelle to find her sister with the help of Kristoff, an ice seller, who falls in love with Anna.

When Elsa accidentally strikes Anna in the heart with her frozen power, the only way Anna can be saved from death is by an act of true love. Thinking she must be kissed by her handsome prince, Anna pleads for him to kiss her. But he refuses, and turns out (spoiler alert) to be evil, bent on taking over the kingdom. He charges her sister Elsa with treason for Anna's impending death.

Then Anna realizes Kristoff truly loves her. She sets off across a fjord to find him. At the same time, Hans chases Elsa onto the same fjord, intent on killing her. Anna reaches Kristoff, but sees Hans is about to kill Elsa. She throws herself between the two and freezes solid, blocking the blow. As Elsa grieves the loss of her sister, Anna begins to thaw. Her sacrifice for her sister constitutes an act of true love.

It surprised me how the handsome prince turned out to be evil, breaking a stereotype. The screenwriters thought of a great twist in making sisterly love the key to saving Anna and subsequently Elsa instead of the love of a man, as it usually is in Disney princess movies. Frozen is my favorite movie of 2014 so far.

Noah, Starring Russell Crowe, directed by Darren Aronofsky

I saw this movie with a group of Christian and non-Christian friends. All agreed that Noah was entertaining.  From a screenwriter’s point of view, the writers had to expand the traditional Biblical story to fit three-act structure and give Noah and other cast members character arcs. Conflicts had to arise on the ark or else it would be a boring trip. While some ridicule the use of “rock people,” I thought they made the story more realistic. How else could Noah and two grown sons have built the huge ark in such a short time? (In the Biblical account, it took about twenty years for four grown men to do it, but screenplays usually condense timelines).

As a Christian, I have no problem with the writers adding or changing elements of the original story to elucidate the meaning of the story. How many times have preachers implored their listeners to “use their imaginations” to fill in what Bible characters could have been thinking or saying during their conflicts? Hopefully, viewers will be drawn to look into the original source of the story in Genesis chapters 5-10 and spiritual conversations can be started.

While the story carries an environmental message, it also conveys one of hope and restoration. Mankind was given a second chance to “do things right.” Wouldn’t most of us take advantage of a second chance to avoid mistakes of the past?