“That’s no blizzard. That’s my sister.”

Frozen features sisters Elsa and Anna, the ruling queen and princess of Arendelle, respectively. As a child, Elsa accidentally hurts Anna with magical ice/snow powers, and so their parents isolate both children and seek to suppress Elsa’s powers. After their parents die in a shipwreck, the now young women are forced to open the palace for Elsa’s coronation and to encourage foreign trade. After Elsa accidentally reveals her powers and locks the kingdom in an eternal winter (a literal depiction of climate change), Anna attempts to bring her back out of self-exile and when Elsa resists, she accidentally freezes Anna’s heart. Anna races to find a magical cure, but fails and is only saved by the selfless act of stepping between her sister and the villainous prince Hans who wants to murder Elsa.

Frozen can serve as an indirect introduction to the concept of human-caused natural disasters and how working together is essential to reversing them. The winter that wracks Arendelle is synonymous with both Elsa’s emotional state and Anna’s fear for her sister. Climate change in the film acts as a pathetic fallacy, reflecting the siblings’ bond and the precarious state of the monarchy. The harsh winter is purely magical and solved by Elsa harnessing her emotions/powers rather than any structural changes. The film does not address climate change as a political issue aside from its relationship to the royal family and governance of the kingdom, including a nod to the concept of climate interfering with international trade agreements.

Frozen also delivers an ecofeminist message through the highly popular format of the Disney princess. This film is both a classic Disney princess film and a self-referential joke about Disney princess films. Anna gets engaged to prince Hans immediately after meeting him and singing a song together; once injured, she assumes that the magical cure is true love’s kiss. However, the cure that resolves Anna’s frozen heart and also the climate disaster is not romantic love, but sisterly love.

©2021 ClimateLit Emily Midkiff and Sara Austin

Publisher: Disney, 2013

Pages: 102 min.


Audience: Little People (4-7), Questers (8-13)

Format: Films

Topics: Climate Change, ecofeminism