Frozen and the New Hollywood Paradigm

I’m not normally a huge fan of animated movies, but I’m delighted to report that Frozen, co-written and co-directed by the prodigiously talented Jennifer Lee, has become the first film (co-)directed by a woman to make a billion dollars in ticket sales.

Think about that. Every single billion-dollar ever made – and nowadays, your movie’s nothing if it doesn’t at least get near that milestone –  has been directed by a man. And I bet there aren’t many female screenwriters represented in that total either…

And then let’s think about Frozen for a moment. Because Frozen does not conform to the typical Hollywood movie paradigm.

It splits the protagonist role interestingly between the two sisters: it’s the story of Elsa’s redemption, but Anna has the active, questing ‘heroine’ role. It suggests that (mild spoiler) the prince-and-princess ‘love at first sight’ cliche may not actually be a stable foundation for a romance – indeed, that it springs more from the damage an isolated royal upbringing does than from healthy desires. It ends with one heroine in the early stages of a romance, but the other quite happy without a man. And by far the strongest relationship in the film, the relationship that drives the story, is not romantic, but sisterly.

In short, Frozen became only the second animated feature to pass the billion-dollar mark by breaking all the rules of the Disney Princess romance. Yet more proof that the Hollywood paradigm is changing, and you don’t have to keep churning out the same tired plots with the same white male heroes to make money…

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5 comments on “Frozen and the New Hollywood Paradigm

  1. David Bishop says:

    For me, Elsa’s journey was archetypal Virgin’s Promise structure – Caught Shining when she freezes Anna by mistake, etc. IIRC from interviews I’ve seen, Elsa was originally more of a true villain but her progression evolved during development.

  2. haridasgowra says:

    good one.writing good

  3. hamish says:

    point of order! Laeta Karogidis wrote on AVATAR. But yes your point stands

  4. If you want to find female lead roles in animated features Studio Ghibli is the place to go. My daughter prefers their animation features to Disney and if you’ve never discovered them they are entertaining for grown-ups too

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