Why 'Frozen' is Still a Hit

This week I read an article released by CNN on the topic of the latest Disney princess movie and why it has resonated so strongly with preschoolers entitled, "'Frozen': Why kids can't 'Let It Go'" (http://www.cnn.com/2015/01/23/health/feat-frozen-l...  Although the animated motion picture was released over a year ago now, many children still seem deeply attached and involved with its characters and plot, making it one of the most successful Disney franchises yet.  CNN interviews two psychologists who happen to be sisters themselves, Yalda Uhls and Maryam Kia-Keating, who discuss what about this movie sets it apart from previous Disney films and why it has stayed so firm in the hearts of its fans.

One main theme discussed in the interview that is highly recognizable in 'Frozen' and that makes it so different from other children's movies is the relationship between Elsa and Anna.  Sibling bonds are a part of everyday life to the average 5-year-old and are often held dearly.  Emphasizing the importance of this sibling relationship between the two main characters catches children's attention because they can relate so easily to caring for their sibling.  This is also a very new-age concept, especially for Disney: to make the priority relationship between sisters, rather than a Prince saving The Girl.  

Another aspect of the movie that really hit home with preschoolers was the fact that it did not feature a witch-type villain or monsters.  This feature comes as very appealing, especially for younger viewers.  When children watch movies, they tend to become very engrossed in what is happening, more so than adults, because of their wild imaginations.  This is very applicable to the fear-factor of many movies; so, when the scary monster or witch makes its onscreen appearance, the child is caught up in the fear of the moment, rather than following the theme and understanding underlying issues of conflict.  Because 'Frozen' doesn't really have a cliche villain to fear, children are more readily able to process the conflicts of the film's plot rather than getting sidetracked with horror.  

Perhaps the themes that resonates most deeply with fans of 'Frozen' though, is their connection with the main character, Elsa.  Preschool aged kids are so frequently told to tame their imaginations and maintain good behavior by their parents, they immediately emphasize with Elsa when she is told to control her magical powers over snow and ice.  As millions sing out in passion "be the good girl you always have to be", they understand the struggles against impulse Elsa faces and her longing for freedom of expression and creativity.  

Overall the interview conducted by CNN thoroughly covered the psychological aspects of 'Frozen' that appeal to a younger audience.  Children are emotionally attached to the characters and plot of the film because of its unique themes connected to family and self restraint, to which they can easily relate.  The film is also attractive to many young viewers because it excludes the formulaic hero-villain storyline, dodging the possibility of fear imposing on their understanding of the plot.  

This article was interesting to read because the topic was easily relatable, since I have seen 'Frozen' and have younger siblings.  It was also refreshing to write about because it didn't talk about psychiatric effects on mice with autism and the possible success of a new drug, which I tried to write about before this.  I think this article is highly relatable to psychology, especially in a marketing sense.  A lot of research and development goes into the creation of children's toys, commercials, movies, and foods; this gave a new psychological perspective to the movie 'Frozen' and look into what it was that made it so commercially successful.  

When 'Frozen' was first released, I read articles that were hyped about Disney's new quasi-femmisnist take on the whole princess movie formula.  Feminists were proud to see a children's film finally being promoted that did not put women in the position of being vulnerable and desperate for a male protagonist hero.  I thought it was interesting, however to read here how the relationship between Anna and Elsa, as siblings really hits home for younger viewers.  It never really occurred to me how little children can truly relate to falling in love with a prince compared to needing to protect your kin, although I'm sure plenty of young girls dream.  

As for Uhls and Kia-Keating's points on Elsa being a large point of attraction and empathy, I totally agree.  Kids love to see their ideas come to life and let their imaginations soar; Elsa is a beacon of ambition and hope for freedom.  When she is told to "conceal, don't feel", kids can relate to their need to avoid their imaginative impulses and being told to maintain their behavior.  

Their point made during the interview of the absence of a witch or monster in the movie also really interested me and made me realize how much that did change the plot and feel of the film.  'Frozen' is a feel-good movie, but also very true to 'real-life' because the obstacles for the main characters are not ridiculous fictitious fiends, but emotional challenges and barriers of the characters themselves.   

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