“Frozen” is different from the other Princess movies in several ways but for this discussion, the only difference that is relevant is that neither Anna nor Elsa have been made ‘official’ Disney Princesses. This is a little surprising, since it is Disney’s highest grossing animated film to date. Whatever the reason or reasons may be without an official Princess, there is no official Prince. For this blog, however, I am operating under the assumption that Anna (at least) will someday be made a Princess, which means that her love interest, Kristoff, will become a Disney Prince.
With Kristoff, the role of Prince has shifted yet again. There is no way Kristoff’s role could be categorized as a ‘rescuer’. He doesn’t save Anna at any point. Interestingly, unlike our last two Princes, Naveen and Flynn, at no point does Kristoff need to be rescued. His life, while odd, is satisfying and at no point is he in any real danger in the story (accept, perhaps for the obligatory being chased by wolves). Equally as interesting, he functions in the story more like a sidekick that a Prince. Kristoff provides transportation and moral support. He shows a willingness to ride into danger to save Anna. She, however, has things well in hand. This shift led some conservatives to complain that the Prince had become irrelevant in the Disney Princess tales. Which would, in turn, teach girls that they didn’t need a man to save them. For some reason, this was presented as a bad thing.
Kristoff is the Prince every woman needs. He helps with problems without trying to solve them himself. He respects Anna’s decisions even when he disagrees with them. He is willing to stay behind or walk away based on what Anna asks him to do. He gets consent before he kisses her. How is any of that a bad thing? How is he not held up as the ideal of what makes a Prince. Isn’t this what every girl should dream of in a relationship: a man who doesn’t swoop in to save her, but someone who stands by her side providing encouragement while she saves herself?
We have come a long way from The Prince and the model of the disengaged hero showing up at the last minute to rescue the girl. I think it’s a good change. I think both our boys and girls can learn a lot more about relationship from Kristoff than from many of his predecessors. A woman can be in charge of her own story, and a man is not lessened by her strength.