Let It Go
If you saw a post I wrote some time back which showed off a few of my favorite themes and songs from animated films and TV shows, then you know I enjoyed Disney’s Frozen. The movie has been a big hit, and while it may be getting more hype than it needs right now, it can rightfully find a place among the best movies ever made.
Part of the reason for this is its most popular song, Let It Go, sung by the film’s protagonist, Queen Elsa. Elsa begins to sing Let It Go when she decides not to stifle her cryokinetic powers any longer. She experiments with her abilities for the first time in years, managing to make herself a huge, magnificent ice palace and a dress of fine frost and ice in a few moments. She declares she is no longer afraid of what she can do and casts her crown aside, choosing a life of hermitage away from others, so she will not hurt them.
Despite the song’s obviously triumphant tone and lyrics, I am skeptical that Elsa actually “threw off” her fear when she ditched her crown. If she had truly stopped being afraid of what she could do, why did Arendelle remain frozen up until Anna sacrificed herself to protect Elsa?
Yes, yes – the easy answer is that it was in the script. But I do not like easy answers with regard to stories; it is a rare tale that has an “easy” solution to a problem. And the “simplicity” of the dilemma is not necessarily related to how well a viewer/listener/reader can comprehend the story. Characters in stories react just like regular humans; when have we EVER made life easy for ourselves?
That is correct: we practically never do.
Elsa may have thought she gave up her fear, but I do not think she did. She gave up her terror of openly using her gifts, but she still viewed said gifts as a “curse,” recalling that the old troll who healed Anna had asked the King whether Elsa was “born with the power or cursed?”
Where Elsa once viewed her abilities as a gift, a power she could use to make her sister (and thereby herself) happy, she now views it only as something she wishes she did not have. Certainly, her bad experience of injuring her younger sister, however unwittingly, is partly to blame for this. But because of the old troll’s warning that “fear will be [her] enemy,” Elsa has grown to fear the power she once loved and controlled with relative ease.
And in this way fear is her enemy. It is not just the fear of her subjects, the Duke of Weselton, and Hans that is a threat to her. The biggest threat is her fear of her abilities. Her powers are so tightly tied to her emotional state that any strong emotion – love, fear, and anger – makes her powers react accordingly. Love melts the snow, fear freezes her kingdom, and anger allows her to defend herself with the skill of a trained combatant.
So though she stops fearing the use of her powers, Elsa does not lose her fear of herself. She does not lose her fear of being a menace to society and to her own sister. This is why Arendelle remains a frozen kingdom, and only becomes colder and colder as Elsa’s terror mounts. Until Anna reminds her of how to let go of her fear, Elsa is unable to remove the snow and ice smothering her kingdom. Once she learns that she can in fact control her abilities; that they are in fact subject to her and not the other way around, does Elsa truly “Let It Go.”
This does not, in my opinion, make Let It Go any less of a great song. It may be a little premature in its setting in the film, but Elsa’s jubilation is more than somewhat premature! She thinks she is released when actually she is still shackled by her fear. Nevertheless, the song is enjoyable and a great piece of music to listen to when one can find the time.
So, readers, I will “let” you “go” until next time!
The Mithril Guardian