Friday, January 3, 2014

On Seeing 'Frozen'

I went to the movies yesterday, and my date was a gorgeous senior at the University of Georgia. She and I have loved Disney movies forever together, it seems. She has an eye and a heart that both belie their years. She's a sophisticated viewer and knows what makes a great story and wonderful animation. She is also still enough of a girl to love Disney's plucky heroines.

Writers, you might be thinking. Even one as old as Williams can always get the girl. It's a perk, the beautiful young woman by his side as the lights go down.

I have loved Disney's animated movies since I was a child. Who hasn't? And my favorite is still Beauty and the Beast, and I can't think of any reason something might knock it off the mountain top. But I have to admit that Frozen comes shockingly close.

I really wasn't expecting the bizarre and hilarious turns of event--at places it's as surreal as a Dali painting. Nor was I quite expecting the gorgeous songs, with music and lyrics that would make Rogers and Hammerstein sit up. But the one killer moment I didn't see coming at all is the meaning of True Love at the very end. It was so pure and so real that I had to brush back tears so my date wouldn't think I was some senile old man.

Life is hard. We all know we're going to lose in the end. Lose our own days in the sun, lose those we love, lose what we've worked so hard to earn. But it's more than a small solace to know that those Disney movies will always be there, that our grandchildren and for many generations beyond can see Anna and Elsa in Frozen and love them.

There's one more lesson I tried to impart (subtly) to my date. Originality isn't what creativity or art need be about. There's hardly a new plot line or character trait in Frozen that hasn't been in hundreds of movies. The race to the ice castle at the end of Frozen comes straight, almost frame for frame, out of Beauty and the Beast. But it doesn't matter. None of the new film's origins matters.

What matters is the sense of being lifted out of your seat with the joy that humans can put together such a lovely and moving story.

But my date knew that already. She knew it when she was seven and I'd pop in the videotape of Beauty and the Beast and we'd sing along with all the songs. Like the love between characters in animated fairy tales, the love between fathers and daughters endures.

You could feel the love in the movie theater. Two elderly people right behind us brought their grandson. Younger couples came with two, three, or (in one case) four children. The love was on the screen where we knew it would be. But it will grow stronger in memory for those in the seats watching Anna and Elsa on screen.

Old Walt would have been proud of us all, as we shared that tale as old as time.

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