I got to see this movie a second time over the weekend, a natural hazard of having granddaughters. Interestingly, after an enormous flurry of Frozen obsession, they haven't watched as much recently. It will be interesting where this goes.
It has a repeated flaw which surprised me, as it is the sort of thing Disney has traditionally paid attention to. When watching the first time, I was surprised when Hans suddenly turned and became cruel to Anna. It was clear that he wasn't going to end up with her (the movie rule is whatever male the heroine is spending the most time with gets the girl, however unlikely that looks at various points in the story), but how it all played out seemed abrupt. I just figured I had missed the clues, paying attention to other things. Surely, there were odd lines and facial expressions that revealed to the attentive viewer that Hans was really a rotter and would betray her in the end. Disney may have its faults, but we expect them to get this myth thing down pretty well. They like to add modern lessons on to the old myths - rather drearily, I think at times - but they ride the waves of power from all those archetypes pretty well.
On second viewing, nope. Not a whisker. In fact, there were two places where there were subtle opposite clues that Hans was going to be a good sort in the end. The change has no foreshadowings, even moments before. This is literarily and mythically a bad thing. Disney usually oversells these items, if anything, telegraphing character with costumes, eyebrows, music, and kitchen sink. To observe it entirely absent is startling. Wondering if they got anything else wrong, I immediately settled on Elsa's girl-to-woman change. That is also abrupt, and the first images are not Snow Queen, but Babe Headed For A Club. That settles down a bit, and the snow queen character asserts itself, but the message is mixed. The Elsa artwork fits the song, not the story.
Well, maybe that's how the game is played now. Myth takes a back seat to merchandise. But it seems a more superficial fantasy, and I wonder if it's going to have quite the staying power of earlier works. I suppose if you make that much money the first time out, staying power doesn't matter much.
Continuing on with Frozen. Kristoff doesn't have anything that connects him with trolls. They just seem brought on to illustrate some romance and do an American Musical Theater number. An excuse was needed, so they became Kristoff's family in the plot. This is fine, and could have added some richness of either comic or serious troll-traits that he showed. There are none. He's a regular human, announces his family are trolls, does a song-and-dance with them, talks to their leader, and resumes being a normal human again.
Those are the main ones, no need to multiply examples. As Tolkien said, it is permissible to have a world with a green sun. But once established, that must fit consistently with the rest of the world. It can't just be tacked on for no reason.
This got more interesting when my son forwarded the NYTimes article by Ron Suskind, Reaching My Autistic Son Through Disney. I don't know if the story is well-known in the autism community, but it is fascinating, based on his book that came out this spring, Life, Animated. The autistic boy learns to weave an entire set of connections to the neurotypical world, thread by thread, through the characters and dialogue of Disney movies. Part of the point is that the characters and dialogue are not some arbitrary corpus, but constitute a large range of actual human emotions, values, and experiences. Disney is hardly perfect in that, having inserted fashionable values in every decade. But they got a lot of this myth thing down pat, as I noted.
It makes me wonder - and I am entirely serious in this - how much of the enormous draw of Frozen comes from the big eyes. The eyes of Disney Princesses have been growing bigger and spacing wider over the years, and these are the biggest yet.