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The Triumph of Frozen, the First Disney Princess Movie About Girls Rather Than for Them

The first Disney princess film to completely root itself in anything like the true feminine experience.

Frozen, however, is the true pioneer. Buck and Lee’s classic dispenses with anything but the faintest pretenses of romantic melodrama. While it’s preordained that sparks will fly between Anna (Kristen Bell) and studly mountain man Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) — who join forces to stop Anna’s ice-queen sister, Elsa (Idina Menzel), from ravaging their land with an endless winter — their amour is so secondary as to be a narrative footnote. Rather, the film’s guiding focus is the relationship between its sibling protagonists.

That Frozen is primarily about sisterhood — and about women forging their own identities through endeavors whose goals have nothing to do with men or achieving some standard-issue happily-ever-after — makes it the first Disney princess film to completely root itself in anything like the true feminine experience. That it does this while delivering excellent comedy (courtesy of the warm weather-pining snowman Olaf, and Kristoff’s reaction-shot-friendly reindeer), as well as majestic fashion and grand musical numbers, all confirms that trademark princess tropes are compatible with more modern representations of developing womanhood — and as with Elsa’s elegantly glitzy performance of the Oscar-nominated song “Let It Go,” that they can serve the overarching portrait of women struggling to reconcile thorny issues of maturation and self-realization.

In other words, Frozen is an authentically glamorous princess film that’s not just for girls, but also essentially about girls. And, mercifully, one that won’t spawn any cleaning-is-fun tie-in books, either.

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