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Frozen: A Disney Movie Where Sisters Actually Care For Each Other


Dec 12 2013
Seeing sisterly love at the box office.

The new Disney cartoon Frozen broke a Thanksgiving weekend box-office record, but still got overshadowed by the hyped-up Hunger Games: Catching Fire. You'd think the two blockbusters, starring an icy Disney princess and a dystopian "Girl on Fire," would have little in common, but both movies illustrate the challenges and joys of sisterly love.

At least, that's what I noticed. As my "baby sister" got married before Thanksgiving and my "big sister" will get married this March, sisterly love sticks in the back of my mind.

Viewers initially watched the heroine Katniss Everdeen in the first Hunger Games movie, volunteering herself in place of her sister to fight in an arena against other children. The Hunger Games sequel, which set its own box-office record for all of November, hints at sisterly love as we are reminded of why Katniss is in the games to begin with, amid broader cultural commentary on commercialization and entertainment.

Frozen beat outCatching Fire for the No. 1 box-office spot last weekend and takes a surprising focus on the family. Yes, Frozen is a princess movie. Yes, there's a prince. Yes, it's kind of the anti-Hunger Games movie, given that it kind of highlights the bread and circuses. But Frozen also features sacrificial love in some unexpected ways, especially for a Disney cartoon.

In the beginning, sisters Anna and Elsa (Kirsten Bell and Idina Menzel) are best friends, laughing and playing together until Elsa discovers her own power to turn items into ice, a power than can also hurt people around her. The two become distant as the older sister shuts the younger one out, fearing that her secret power will damage her sister.

SPOILER ALERT/TOTALLY PREDICTABLE PLOT POINT FOR A DISNEY MOVIE: Then, their parents die. My husband and I rolled our eyes, as Disney loves to either kill off parents or simply not include them. Even without Mom and Dad, the family ties remain strong, as the sisters are faced with stumbling out into the world on their own.

Of course, there's a prince, but not the usual kind you find in a princess film. In one dramatic scene, Princess Anna is forced to choose between a "happily ever after" man and her maintaining a relationship with her sister Princess Elsa, who becomes the "Snow Queen," loosely based off of Hans Christian Andersen's story.

The film reminded me of my own relationship with my sisters, especially the younger one who just got married. Growing up, I thought I was making so many "sacrifices" for her, loaning her my toys, letting her play with my friends, paving the way for her to get her ears pierced at a younger age. Then I remembered the similar kinds of sacrifices my older sister made for me. Through each other's demonstration, the three of us have learned to pass on the love that has been passed to us by our parents.

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Frozen: A Disney Movie Where Sisters Actually Care For Each Other