Because I can't even write a completely unrelated post without Jane Austen quotes, here's a quote from Mansfield Park (watched recently) regarding illusions of character:
"All of this leads me to believe that the person I've been so apt to dwell on for many months has been a figure of my own imagination, not you, Miss Crawford. I do not know you, and I'm sorry to say, I have no wish to." -Edmund Bertram.
Warning: spoilers for Frozen below! Don't read if you haven't seen the movie yet! Go see it first, it's worth it, and then come back, read this post and share your thoughts!
We have two romantic relationships to contrast in this movie: Anna and Hans, vs. Anna and Kristoff.
“This is awkward. Not you’re awkward, but just ‘cause we’re–I’m awkward. You’re gorgeous. Wait, what?” – Anna
First, Anna and Hans meet in typical Disney-princess style, except the ridiculousness of their love-at-first sight is intentionally amplified. They're both dumb-struck at their first meeting (does dumb-struck mean suddenly hit with nearly with incomprehensible stupidity?) and when they meet again at the ball, sing one really cute duet before he proposes, and she accepts. WHAT?!?
When Anna goes off to search for Elsa, and first meets Kristoff, there are no immediate sparks. If anything, they get on each others nerves a little. He's a little gruff and rude, then she rather annoyingly demands and bribes him into taking her up the mountain, and clobbers him with the gear she purchased for him; he makes fun of her impulsive engagement after knowing Hans only ONE DAY. They start off with a bit of friction and some controversy, and he only continues helping her not because she'll die on her own, but because she promised to replace his sled for him - at least, that's the reason he claims.
|"Carrots. Carrots!" - Kristoff Yeah, is that how you say, "excuse me, please"??|
Back at Arendell, Hans seems to be showing signs of kindness, maturity, clear thinking and calm leadership skills. Anna may not have known more about him than that he's a prince, gorgeous, likes sandwiches, has 12 older brothers and dreamy eyes, but he does seem to have character. Anyone can fake character, how long can faking last? Obviously, almost anyone could keep it up for the small amount of time that Hans did before Anna accepted him, but from what they showed us of his behavior while Anna was gone, I am impressed with his faking abilities. Perhaps there's a warning here about how good a fake can be? (I mean, think about poor Edmund in Mansfield Park!)
Meanwhile, Anna and Kristoff go through some character-revealing trials together, like running away from a monster snow man. Once Anna's heart is frozen and she starts to freeze, Kristoff does everything he can for her and takes her to his troll "family" in hopes that they can heal her. After a silly song where the trolls try to marry them almost as impulsively as Anna agreed to marry Hans, the grandfather troll finally tells Kristoff that only an act of true love can save Anna, so he takes her back to Hans, her "true love," as fast as possible.
Question: Why does Kristoff's sacrificially giving Anna up for what he believes to be her good NOT count as an act of true love?
Answer: That would not answer the feminist and anti-romance message this movie is slamming over our heads.
At this point, Hans has found Elsa, saved her from recklessly murdering two bad guys, and takes her safely back to Arendelle, where, albeit, he locks her in a dungeon and tries to contain her powers. That makes sense to me, however, and there's no evidence of him treating her badly otherwise. Through the entire movie up to this point, his character is solidly good, if a little bland. He's acts more mature that Kristoff, he's more considerate, and seems to have a better grasp of the importance and purpose of deodorant.
Then we discover that Hans is a fake after all, he refuses to kiss Anna (arguably not necessarily an act of true love anyway, as Anna seems merely desperate to save her own life) and leaves her to freeze while he goes to kill Elsa and take the kingdom for himself. This annoys me just because there were no hints that he might be a bad guy until it looks like he's going in to kiss Anna, and then pulls away. I guess that's how surprised and betrayed we feel when our fantasies are shattered by the real person that was hiding behind our wishful imaginations and the fronts they put up. But I just didn't want Hans to be that bad. Plus, with "hindsight is 20/20," a few little hints that he was going to turn out bad would have been nice. I have now seen Frozen three times, and each time I looked very carefully for hints, and there really wasn't a single one.
So, Kristoff finally snaps out of it and realizes he has to go back for Anna, and he comes racing across the fjord on Sven to give her that "true love's kiss" (we can only assume, anyway) but Anna decides to protect Elsa from Hans rather than saving herself, and her sacrificial act of love is what saves her AND Elsa. Finally, everything is put right, and Anna and Kristoff have a cute ending where she gives him a replacement sled (and guitar-thingy) and he asks her permission before kissing her. Respectful, sweet, endearing. But does she really know that much more about Kristoff? What makes him the right man for her?
Is the lack of love-at-first-sight? (Must immediate attraction never go along with a relationship that might develop into something real?)
Is it the rockiness of their beginning together? (Would comfortable interaction early in the relationship be a sign of doom?)
Is it the difficulties they weather together? (If so, how many trials must a couple go through together before they can be sure that the other isn't a fake?)
Is it his lack of perfection? Does the guy you marry have to get spit in your face because he cares about his sled (car) more than you, eat his boogers, and have many other flaws, like being a little smelly or socially impaired?
Does he have to be willing to give you up and walk away at some point in the relationship before he comes back?
How many days did Anna know Kristoff anyway? And did they even get married, or did they just live together forever because you can never really be 100% positive and absolutely certain about another person? Or maybe they ended up breaking up. After all, they didn't sing a song together, you know!
Or maybe that's one of the requirements for finding your true love, you absolutely cannot sing adorable duets together. Because that would be too fun and romantic to be true love...
I don't know if the makers of this movie ever really decided exactly what message they were trying to send. I'm confused, and the more I think about it, the more confused I get about what the whole point was anyway. I'm liking Frozen less and less the more I contemplate. I wish I could stop thinking about it, but for some reason my brain just can't Let It Go. (Yes, I'm reduced to cheesy puns.) I'm starting to feel like the message was: Don't ever trust nice guys, because if a guy really seems nice, he's just too good to be true. Be sure to settle for a guy with several flaws, but pick a guy with flaws that don't really bother you.
I do really like a lot of the soundtrack though, and before I end, can I just say, I don't care if Hans ends up a bad guy, I really think it'd be awesome to marry a guy who would do things like this with me one day:
Stinking cute song, adorable fun couple.