Monday, April 7, 2014

Villain of the Month: Elsa?

Last week I had a slumber party with my little nieces and finally saw the much-discussed Disney flick, Frozen. Instantly, I was compelled to read up on the screenwriter and original story. Apparently (according the very reliable Wikipedia) Disney had been unsuccessfully trying to find a way to work the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale The Snow Queen into a film, but the Snow Queen was a villain, and they were having a tough time humanizing her. 

Jennifer Lee
Enter Jennifer Lee. The talented co-writer on Wreck It Ralph had popped onto the Disney writing scene after going back to school (Columbia) when she was 30. After working on the Frozen script, she was moved up to a director credit, the first female director of an animated film at a major house. Under her hand, the powerful female "villain" became both not-so-villainous, and not-so-desperate for a man to take care of her (a much-mocked motif in earlier Disney films).

I think it's worthwhile to take a minute to appreciate the strength of the story behind the story here. 

Kudos (and thank you) to Jennifer Lee for taking the powerful-woman-is-villain cliche and turning it into a powerful-woman-is-hero ideal for kids today. 

And a lesson for all my lovely writer friends out there, by examining the villains of our society we expose the things we fear. Some of those cliche villains/fears are dark and horrible and need to remain the things we fear, but as writers, we have the opportunity to explore what it is actually most corrosive to our society. We have the opportunity to turn the cliche villains of oppression/voicelessness/etc. into omens of hope. And maybe I'm overstepping here, but as writers, I don't think it's just our opportunity, but our moral obligation.

Thanks again, Jennifer Lee.

If you have the time, I highly recommend reading some of her interviews. Fascinating person. From Pop Sugar:, with her co-director on Den of Geek, and if you want to watch CBS's take, here it is.

And I know I'm late to the party on this one so I'd love to hear all of your thoughts as well.

1 comment:

  1. I too loved the movie and so did all three of my boys!! For me, there were many reasons I liked the movie, but I think the biggest draw for me was the sister relationship. Having a sister myself, I could relate. It was nice to see this strong sibling relationship and I think my boys also came out of the movie with a strong sense to the value of family. Way to go Disney!