Friday, September 12, 2014

Five Reasons Frozen is the Best Fairy Tale Ever –Guest Post by M.C. Planck


We have a guest post from M.C. Planck whose latest novel, Sword of the Bright Lady, was published by Pyr on September 9, 2014.

Below he shares his thoughts on the wildly popular children’s movie from Disney - Frozen - and its connection to his fantasy novel.

Warning: you will have had to have watched or know a bit about Frozen to understand this post.

Five Reasons Frozen is the Best Fairy Tale Ever

5. Introduces kids to fantasy role-playing

My daughter acts out the entire movie several times a day, recruiting whoever happens to be standing nearby to play various roles but especially the sisters. She, however, is always “the one with the powers.”

I see great prospects of a D&D player there. Once she can read, that is.

Poor Kristen Bell. I think she (and Disney) thought she had the starring role; but my daughter only puts up with Anna because that’s how you get to the bits with Elsa.

Sword of the Bright Lady - M.C. Planck

4. You can’t marry a man you just met

Not only is this message delivered from trustworthy sources - the older sister and the love interest himself – it is reinforced by the narrative. The trolls actually attempt to perform a one-day wedding and the protagonists put a stop to it. This shows that the message is more than lip-service; it is baked into the plot.

3. There are no bad guys

Everyone is doing the best they can. No one is evil, merely mistaken or unfortunate. The King is trying to help his daughter, even if his approach of “conceal, don’t feel” is wrong; Elsa is trying to protect her sister, even if her silence is ultimately more harmful; Anna’s exposure of Elsa’s sorcery is likewise an innocent mistake. No one is tortured or abused by malevolent monsters; instead, Elsa’s classic fairy tale isolation in a tower is done by her own hand.

Now I know you’re going to say, “but what about Prince Hans!” The answer is that I have edited the film in my head and replaced the one scene that Disney messed up. In my version, Hans goes ahead and kisses Anna – and it doesn’t work. He sighs and explains that since he’s met her, he’s found something he loves even more: namely, being King. So although he’s very sad that he can’t help her, he’s going to go out there and do what’s best for Arendelle. This still makes him a cad who deserves to be sent back to his brothers in disgrace but does not make him a purely rotten villain who faked that entire love song.

2. Love is an action

Love is presented not as something you say or even feel; but as something you do. Elsa isolates herself for love of Anna and her parents; Kristof gives Anna up for her sake; Olaf risks melting for Anna; and at the end, Anna chooses to save her sister instead of herself.

1. Everyone saves themselves

Although friends and family are crucial to success, in the end everyone is responsible for their own salvation. The act of true love that saves Anna is her own, not something done for her.

Again this is built into the story. Olaf commits an act of true love, lighting the fire and risking his own destruction, even while he’s explaining how Kristof committed an act of true love by leaving Anna forever. Neither of these acts are sufficient to save Anna. She must be the one to commit the act. It is not enough that she be loved; rather, she must love.

Elsa also saves herself. Although her sister provides the example, Elsa must choose to let herself feel. Elsa must risk loving others even while she fears they will not love her because of her curse.

As I watch my daughter internalize every facet of this movie like a sponge thrown into the sea, I am grateful that Disney made a story that has so much worthy of keeping. So much so I’ll even overlook the reflexive deference to aristocracy (she turns the kingdom over to Hans because he is a prince? What happened to “You can’t turn a country over to a man you just met!”). Especially since that attitude fits in perfectly with the rules of the fantasy world in my own novel, Sword of the Bright Lady, where aristocracy is a dangerous and necessary job instead of an excuse to wear fancy jewelry on your head.

M.C. Planck is the author of The Kassa Gambit. After a nearly-transient childhood, he hitchhiked across the country and ran out of money in Arizona. So he stayed there for thirty years, raising dogs, getting a degree in philosophy, and founding a scientific instrument company. Having read virtually everything by the old masters of SF&F, he decided he was ready to write. A decade later, with a little help from the Critters online critique group, he was actually ready. He was relieved to find that writing novels is easier than writing software, as a single punctuation error won't cause your audience to explode and die. When he ran out of dogs, he moved to Australia to raise his daughter with kangaroos.

Visit his website:

About Sword of the Bright Lady:  Christopher Sinclair goes out for a walk on a mild Arizona evening and never comes back. He stumbles into a freezing winter under an impossible night sky, where magic is real-but bought at a terrible price. 

A misplaced act of decency lands him in a brawl with an arrogant nobleman and puts him under a death sentence. In desperation he agrees to be drafted into an eternal war, serving as a priest of the Bright Lady, Goddess of Healing. But when Marcius, god of war, offers the only hope of a way home to his wife, Christopher pledges to him instead, plunging the church into turmoil and setting him on a path of violence and notoriety.

To win enough power to open a path home, this mild-mannered mechanical engineer must survive duelists, assassins, and the never-ending threat of monsters, with only his makeshift technology to compete with swords and magic.

But the gods and demons have other plans. Christopher's fate will save the world…or destroy it.

440 pages | Trade Paperback | Pyr | September 2014

M.C. Planck was interviewed here on Layers of Thought in 2013 close to the publication date of his debut science fiction novel The Kassa Gambit. To read the interview with M.C. Planck link on this text. And to read John’s review for The Kassa Gambit link on this text.


Tom Craver said...

I pretty much agree - and I loved the songs!

The Prince Hans thing was pretty brutal - and actually would have carried the 'not really love at first sight' message better if he'd kissed her and they'd been confused and panicky that it didn't work - could have been a learning moment for Anna, without feeling like destruction of a character we'd liked up to that point. Showing Anna liking both men but knowing she isn't truly in love with either yet and doesn't need to rush, wouldn't have been the worst alternate ending.

The movie could have done without Olaf the "add formulaic slapstick humor" character. Maybe if he'd just been witty and naively wondering, instead of goofy but sometimes weirdly wise.

Unknown said...

Hi Tom -
MC is not monitoring this post. But I sure will let him know that he has a comment waiting on the blog.

Thanks for reading and commenting!

MCPlanck said...

I agree, Tom. I know fairy tales aren't supposed to have subtlety, but it would have been so much better - and built on the message that true love is something that doesn't happen in a day.

I was also totally down on Olaf, until I realized how much my 4 year old daughter liked him. The kids deserve some parts of the movie for themselves, too. And he's no Jar Jar Binks; he actually adds important elements to the plot. Also, every Disney princess has to have an animal companion, so we're probably better off with Olaf than anything else they could have saddled Anna with.

Just imagine her with a snow bunny or something silly, and I think you'll decide Olaf isn't so bad after all. :D

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