Getting Whiny about Frozen

So it seems I’m on a bit of a children’s movie kick at the moment, which is not entirely surprising (I’ve been doing a lot of writing, and children’s movies tend to be more whimsical, which is better for writing inspiration). And, of course, nobody can escape the cultural landslide which is Frozen, even this long after its advent. Therefore, this post contains unmarked spoilers, so if you’ve by accident or effort of will managed to avoid spoilers so far, ye be warned.
There is one thing that really sort of bugged me about Frozen, and it’s something that bugs me about a lot of kids’ movies.
I love that Frozen was trying to do something else with the ‘true love’ concept. I don’t love that it felt the need to contain an Obvious Villain.

I understand that villains can be the strongest part of a movie. I realise that Hans has taken the Disney world by manipulative storm (and there are some Internet theories out there on the subject that are my headcanon now). Still, though, Hans to me felt quite tacked on the first time I watched the movie.
I’m generally against adding new conflicts in the last ten minutes of a movie, unless they’re really necessary, and Hans to me just didn’t feel that necessary. I may be wrong on this; it may have been that without Hans’s betrayal, it would have just ruined the tension. On the other hand, simply having the kiss not work and nobody knowing to find Elsa, who may well be in the middle of a blizzard-freakout through worry for Anna, if the town simply being misguided is keeping her locked up in the castle still seems like a pretty good setup for some serious tension.

But then, it could also be that I have a bit of an ongoing “thing” about villains in Disney movies. There are a couple of other movies that have done it as well, where the villains just feel kind of unnecessary.
I think where I’m coming from here is that I don’t tend to like villains who aren’t really involved in the main conflict of a story, and I don’t like it when villains are evil for the sake of being evil. So even if Hans’s betrayal was completely logical given the character, and it was well-explained afterwards, I still felt like it took attention away from the main conflict, which was the disagreement between the sisters.

Plus, I have this weird thing about stories not needing villains. I’m always a little disappointed when a story has gone really well and then feels the need to incorporate a villain without it being necessary up until that point. I really, really like circumstances/society as villain – the idea that things are going wrong for the protagonists because they’re trying to do something that’s just plain difficult, or because there are groups who think differently to them entirely legitimately (or even because the people who think the same way as them believe in different methods), not because there’s a person out there who is specifically trying to thwart their plans because they’re mean and evil. And that’s basically how Hans came across to me. He was mean and evil because he was too ambitious and didn’t care about other people in his quest for power. And the story wasn’t about power. It was about acceptance and family.

As I said before – Frozen is by no means the only movie with this problem. I wish there wasn’t such a perception that movies can’t be interesting to kids without a villain (Studio Ghibli probably collectively sits back and laughs whenever it’s suggested in earshot of them). But I’m not the target audience, so I’ll just have my villains and like it, I suppose.

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