Still, the film adheres to a lot of familiar fairy tale tropes. Anna carelessly gets engaged to a prince she just met. Later, Elsa freezes Anna’s heart with her powers, and the only remedy for it, as explained by the rock trolls, is an act of true love. I displayed a visible eye roll in my theater seat, because I admittedly wasn’t giving this film the benefit of the doubt. As Anna rushed to her prince for a kiss, I looked at my watch waiting for her to realize it’s actually Kristoff who’s her true love and wrap things up.
But here’s where the movie really surprised me. The prince turns out to be a total douchebag who’s only after Anna’s money, and he leaves her to die of her frozen heart. At the movie’s climax, Kristoff races to save Anna, but she ends up saving herself. Just as the evil prince is about to kill Elsa, Anna jumps in front of her, immediately turning to ice. However, as Elsa cries over her, the ice melts. Saving her sister was the act of true love Anna needed to save herself. That’s right. A Disney princess who saves herself — while also saving someone else.
Of course Anna still gets together with Kristoff and lives happily ever after, but this twist ending really impressed me. While Brave was admirable for forgoing fairy tale tropes throughout its whole runtime, the fact that Frozen sets up those tropes and then completely turns them on their head makes an even bigger impact in a lot of ways. It certainly does a lot to start a dialogue between parents and kids about what stories have to teach us and how there’s no one way to have a happy ending. It also emphasizes the idea that “true love” doesn’t have to just mean romantic love. In addition to being a cute, well-made movie with two interesting young women at the center, Frozen also has a very unexpected and rather bold way of telling its story, which I really admire.