Films Nos 27 & 28 (2015) : Finding Nemo and The Lion King

lion king nemoThe Scandinavians embrace a concept known as ‘hygge’. It doesn’t translate well into English, but a rough approximation is ‘cosiness’. Hygge is probably easier to grasp with some examples – sitting in a log cabin with a roaring fire, drinking mulled wine and playing cards with friends. Snuggling up on the sofa, surrounded by candles and watching an old movie. Walking in autumn leaves, wrapped in woolly scarves and heading home for warming hot chocolate. Get the gist? Well for me and my family, watching a Disney movie together engenders a deep sense of hygge. We don’t watch to discover a new plot together, as we know the stories inside out. We watch to have a shared experience, something we can still all enjoy as a family.

My daughter always cries when Mufasa dies and Simba tries in vain to rouse him. My son and husband can quote huge chunks of Dory’s exchanges with Marlin. We can all sing ‘The Circle of Life’ with realistic passion and I still laugh at Bruce’s ‘Fish Are Friends’ meetings.

‘The Lion King’ is my favourite Disney movie and ‘Finding Nemo’ is my husband’s. My preference for the African saga is largely due to the music, but also the way in which the film captures loss, and our longing to remain connected to those who have passed away. ‘Finding Nemo’ explores the same themes of parental devotion and family bonds – I would certainly swim to Australia to find my children if they were swept away and they know that. Disney reminds us about what is important in these busy lives of ours.

If you read more about ‘hygge’, I am sure you will agree that Disney movies are an essential ingredient. Togther with popcorn, of course!

Film No 41 (2014) : Frozen

frozenI do realise that I am the last person in civilisation to see ‘Frozen’ for the first time, but Santa brought a copy on DVD to our house. We watched as a family, boys and all!

Princesses Elsa and Anna are sisters, but Elsa possesses a power which her younger sibling doesn’t; she can magically create ice and snow. When Elsa accidentally strikes Anna in the head with an ice-bolt, benevolent trolls are able to undo the damage. But their cure comes with a warning that a strike to the heart would have been more difficult to rectify. The princesses’ parents are not prepared to take that risk and so they shut Elsa away until she can learn to contain her destructive impulses. Years later, when Anna incurs her sister’s wrath, Queen Elsa unleashes a perpetual winter and flees from her palace. Setting off on the quest to find Elsa, Anna is joined by Olaf the snowman and Kristoff the ice-cutter, with his reindeer side-kick, Sven. When they finally encounter Elsa in her frozen palace, the ensuing confrontation leaves Anna with an icy wound in the heart; only an act of true love can save her from a glacial demise.

‘Frozen’ is captivating to watch; the special effects as snowflakes materialise, icicles appear and crackling ice sheets form are all beautiful, the screen glitters with silver, blue and turquoise. The soundtrack is uplifting, in particular the ‘air-grabbing’ opportunities offered by Idina Menzel’s powerful ballad ‘Let it Go‘. The characters are all beautiful, there is action and humour. ‘Frozen’ champions the concepts of family bonds and sisterly love. As the eldest of two girls, I know that I would certainly go to any lengths to protect my younger sister, and although we both have romantic love in our lives, our sibling relationship is a constant on which we both rely.

But…but, something niggled about me whilst I was watching ‘Frozen’ and it took me overnight to crystallize my concern. It was this; I was uncomfortable with the notion that Elsa, a beautiful woman, has some power inside her that can harm other people, and the only antidote to this is for her to build an emotional barricade to keep others out, lest she cause irreversible damage. What this power might be is unclear to me; sexuality, beauty, deception? My family has reminded me that ‘it’s only a film’ but these productions, with their associated marketing and merchandise, have a huge influence.  The subliminal messages are just that, they are insidious, creeping under the radar. Films such as ‘Frozen’ have enormous power and with that comes responsibility; little girls all over the world will be aspiring to be Elsa and Anna; they may not need a man to save them, but they have been introduced to the concept of keeping people out in order to protect them from danger.

Frozen ranks as the highest-grossing animated film of all time, which is a liberating situation for an amateur blogger, because no-one is actually going to give a brass monkeys what I think, as the film’s success has already spoken for itself. To my mind though, emotional isolation is just not cool.