NPR: Pop Culture Happy Hour – ‘Frozen’ and the Death of Beloved Characters

In this podcast, many of the societal messages and norms within the movie “Frozen” are explored. There is extensive comparison to other Disney movies, and quite a bit of jocularity concerning some of the main points of the film.

“Frozen” sets very few precedents on its own, according to the commentators, but innovates several key repeating Disney themes well: princess personalities, real love vs. infatuation, and self-expression.

Movies as a mass medium often contain similar thematic elements as a necessity; their goal is usually to appeal to as wide an audience as possible, and there are only so many universal values that we have as humans that can be readily applied to movie scripts. Love (both romantic and familial), friendship, success, failure, conflict, hatred; all these and more make up a list of constant, repeating thematic elements in the movies we see.

The reason for this is the need for the content to connect with us on an emotional level. We need to feel something relevant and valuable to us as a result of having viewed the content, or we will forget or disregard it as having little worth.

“Frozen” in particular explores many of these themes, particularly those of sisterhood (familial love) in the relation between Elsa and her sister, reality-based romantic love in place of infatuation in the “You can’t marry someone you just met,” idea, and self-expression and liberation in Elsa’s “Let It Go.” The latter is a terrifyingly effective example of branding through musical motif and theme, the movie’s soundtrack now recognized worldwide.

This podcast also speaks of the practice many authors and screenwriters have of killing off main characters. The general consensus reached in it is that there are good ways to kill of a character and less-desirable ways to do so. The good ways discussed were usually when a character’s death has a purpose to advance or develop the plot in some meaningful way, and not just to try to add value to the end of the book or movie through the motif of death.

What do you think, not just of Frozen, but also of the practice of death in works of fiction? Can it be constructive? How, or under what circumstances?


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