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Frozen: “Let It Go”

01 Jan

Out of every movie I saw in 2013, which by the way included Thor 2, the Hobbit, and Catching Fire, Frozen is the best one. Later on I’m going to analyze the whole plot, but that’s gonna take a while to put together because of sheer quantity. There is so much to analyze that it’s hard to know where to even begin.

So for now I wrote up an analysis of just one song—”Let It Go,” as sung by Idina Metzel, who plays Elsa. I have a line-by-line translation and then make my point at the end. Honestly, I’m not sure if this is really a true analysis so much as learning valuable lessons from this song.

—SPOILERS—
Not too many this time, really, but I’ll add this warning in here just in case.

The line-by-line translation:
“The snow glows white on the mountain tonight”
This line serves to establish a sense of place. We’re high on a mountain, and it’s covered in snow. Snow is cold and barren—maybe this isn’t the best place to be at night.
“Not a footprint to be seen”
Here we see that, besides the singer, there is no one around at all. We are completely and totally alone.
“A kingdom of isolation”
We’re alone. Isolated. There is no other human around for miles and the specific term “isolation” gives the connotation that we may be lonely.
“And it looks like I’m the queen”
This strengthens the previous assumption of loneliness. The Queen of Isolation. Is that a title anyone would really want? Not really. No one wants to be ostracized or isolated.

“The wind is howling like this swirling storm inside”
Ah ha. So there is inner turmoil going on. And, from the simile of the howling wind we can see that this isn’t a little thing; this is huge. There’s a storm within the singer, and a decision will have to be reached.
“Couldn’t keep it in, heaven knows I’ve tried”
So then, the singer is different somehow. She isn’t normal and she has a secret. Only, from this line, it appears that maybe she doesn’t have that secret anymore. She’s tried her best to hold up the pretense of being normal, but it just hasn’t worked.

“Don’t let them in, don’t let them see”
This verse goes back to a time when her secret was still intact. She’s spent her life keeping this inside of her, and it’s apparently been a less than pleasant experience.
“Be the good girl you always have to be”
The singer has spent her life being a “good girl,” and has been denied a real life because of it. This secret of hers consumes her, and she’s finally cracking under the pressure.
“Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know”
Keep it secret. Don’t let anyone know. Don’t feel. The singer has not only kept to herself all her life, but she’s attempted to cut out feelings. This is something that is impossible to do in the first place, and trying it is difficult and hard on the person. But that doesn’t matter here, because the only important thing is keeping everyone from knowing her secret.
“Well, now they know”
So now we’re back to the present, when the secret has been let out and everyone knows her for what she is. Her pretenses are stripped away. She is different, and everyone knows it. The tone of this line gives the impression that saying these words is like a revelation to the singer. A new life can begin.

“Let it go, let it go”
As long as they know, they may as well see. Now that the secret is out there’s no reason to hide her difference anymore. Finally, she doesn’t have to conceal. She can let it go.
“Can’t hold it back anymore”
There is no more being careful; the singer has tried that, and failed at it. She is exploding in the knowledge that she is finally free to be herself.
“Let it go, let it go”
Repetition of a phrase indicates that this is an important factor. She is cutting loose and holding nothing back.
“Turn away and slam the door”
This line tells us that the singer is done with her previous life. There is no trying to fix this and no going back. She isn’t going to softly close the door behind her, either. She’s going to slam it.
“I don’t care what they’re going to say”
This tells us that she’s made her decision. There are countless people who are going to shun her forever because of this secret, and she couldn’t care less.
“Let the storm rage on”
Remember the line a few verses ago? This line isn’t referring to the howling wind; it’s talking about the swirling storm inside of her. Why try to tame it? She’s spent her life trying not to feel. Why not feel? Why not let her emotions run?
“The cold never bothered me anyway”
She’s never been bothered by the storm. The storm has been going on her whole life, and she’s acclimated to it just fine. Why should she go back to her world of rules and regulations?

“It’s funny how some distance makes everything seem small”
A lifetime of isolation. But suddenly, looking at her life as a whole from farther away, the singer realizes that her problems really aren’t as big as she always thought they were. Freedom was so close that whole time.
“And the fears that once controlled me can’t get to me at all”
So her previous life then was governed by fear. Fear of her secret being discovered. Fear that everyone would know. But, as the song itself says, now they know. That fear is gone. It’s an event that came and went, and now she’s free.

“It’s time to see what I can do”
At long last, she can break loose and be herself.
“To test the limits and break through”
Without a secret to constrict her, she can test the limits of her different ability or quirk. Alone on that mountain, she can be herself for the first time in forever.
“No right, no wrong, no rules for me”
She has always had to be careful. There was always something restricting her, and she couldn’t be herself. But now that’s gone. It’s up to her to control herself, but why should she control it? Why not just let it go? This is her; why not let herself run away with her?
“I’m free”
Freedom. Freedom from rules, freedom from her secret, and freedom from her own fear. She doesn’t have to be self-conscious; she’s different, and different is ok. She doesn’t have to listen to everybody else who tells her to be the same as them.

“Let it go, let it go”
It’s interesting to note that with each repetition of “let it go,” the singer’s voice intensifies. Repetition is a very common way of emphasizing a point, and the escalated intensity is another indicator of a point.
“I am one with the wind and sky”
Like before, there are no more rules for her, because she’s finally free of it. She’s free to ignore social strictures and be as wild and free as she chooses to be.
“Let it go, let it go”
Another repetition. This is a very strong point.
“You’ll never see me cry”
She doesn’t have to go back and she doesn’t have to fear. There is no sadness in freedom.

“Here I stand and here I’ll stay”
The beginning verse tells us that the singer is off alone in the freezing mountains. But the singer doesn’t care. She’s found where she can be herself and she will stay there, no matter what.
“Let the storm rage on”
Let the hate go on! She doesn’t care anymore. She can take whatever anyone wants to throw at her. The beginning of the song talks about a swirling storm inside of her, linking her heart to the storm. This verse talks about the storm inside of her. She can live with it now. Now that she’s free, she can cope, and be happy doing it.

“My power flurries through the air into the ground”
Her newfound revelation doesn’t just effect the current moment; it lasts. The ground and the earth is often used as a metaphor for stability, and it’s use here shows that this freedom flies on the free winds and flurries into the stable ground.
“My soul is spiraling in frozen fractals all around”
First off, best use of the word “fractals” in a song I’d say. 😉 A fractal is a curve or geometric figure, each part of which has the same statistical character as the whole. Fractals are useful in describing partly random or chaotic phenomena. So this word truly is perfect. Not only does it capture the chaos of this feeling, but it also manages to bring in the fact that each verse and each thought is very similar to all others. This event appears chaotic, but is really very delicately structured.
“And one thought crystallizes like an icy blast”
And icy blast. In the last verse there was chaos that vaguely fit together like the pieces of a puzzle, and here we’re coming to the core. The climax. What all of this leads up to.
“I’m never going back, the past is in the past”
This song is all about realizing newfound freedom, but this is when that thought really strikes home. She’s not going back. That’s it. The past is in the past. She’s not only free of her secret, but she’s free of her past as well. Does that include freedom of consequences? This song certainly gives that impression.

“Let it go, let it go”
Now that the climax of the song has happened the repeated “let it go” is even more powerful. It’s more forceful and, even if it sounds impossible, even more heartfelt than the other repetitions were.
“And I’ll rise like the break of dawn”
Her realization and decision has been made, and she is a new person. She won’t cower in the dark. She will show the world this new girl, and she will take pride in it.
“Let it go, let it go”
This is the last time this line is repeated. During the song she was letting it go; now that is the past tense. She is not letting go. She has let go.
“That perfect girl is gone”
She’s a new person. That other girl, the one who cowered behind her secret for so long, constantly worrying about the secret getting out, no longer exists. The past is in the past, including the past girl herself.
“Here I stand in the light of day”
The light of day. Not only will she show the world her new self with pride in the daylight, she will proclaim it.
“Let the storm rage on”
Ignore the problem.
“The cold never bothered me anyway”
I’ve dealt with it before.

The lessons to be learned:
So, in the end, the decision is not to make a decision. Let the storm rage on. Ignore the problem. Run and hide from it. Why deal with it when she could just stay out here alone—alone and free at last. Why face fear when you can avoid it completely?

Of course, that isn’t a sound decision, because you’re not freed from fear by running from it. Your fear will always be there, and even if it becomes a mere echo in the back of your mind, you’ll never be free of it if you don’t confront it. Running from fear isn’t strong; it shows that you are so afraid you won’t even confront your fear face to face.

But, it is an easy decision to make that a lot of people end up making. Fear is scary.

“But,” you may say, “she’s not ignoring the problem! ‘Here I stand in the light of day!’ She made the decision to start afresh!” Well, it’s like I said. Her decision was to ignore the fact that her actions have consequences. Her decision was to hide from making a decision under the logic that as long as she’s dealt with the problem before, she can continue to do so. Really what she needs to do is deal with it once and for all and get the job done.

So what’s the lesson here? Is it to take this girl as a role model and do as she does? Yes and no. You don’t want to hide behind a secret and you don’t want to hide your true self just to be like the crowd. Like the girl in this song, you should let it go. However, there are rules for everybody. Nobody is above the law and nobody is above consequences. Just because you have come into your own doesn’t mean that you don’t have to deal with the mistakes you made before then.

Face your fears.

Don’t run from them.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for The Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” -Joshua 1:9

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5 Comments

Posted by on January 1, 2014 in *Le Literary Analysis

 

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5 responses to “Frozen: “Let It Go”

  1. Suz

    July 5, 2014 at 1:13 pm

    I came out of the film (crying) wondering if there was a gay subtext for Elsa…? Not explicit but it would fit.

     
    • Rierierose

      July 6, 2014 at 7:49 am

      Hey Suz! Generally I like to not mention these sort of things on this blog (You know, PG and all) but I have heard of that idea before and spent a bit thinking about it. I had never thought of it myself before reading about online, and here’s what I decided. No. I really don’t think that there is a subtext there for Elsa. Elsa’s character arch focused on her overcoming what was basically extreme depression, anxiety, and social reclusion. Her ice powers were more an image of her bottled-up personality than anything else. She was afraid of letting her personality loose on the world because she was afraid that it would hurt people, or hurt herself. Besides having to assume that Elsa’s fear originated with her sexuality, which seems unlikely to me considering she only feared herself after hurting Anna, the only other reason I can find to think that Elsa is a lesbian is that she did not find love in this movie. This argument holds no weight to me; Disney is just starting to come up with movies wherein not every princess is married by the end. This is a more realistic and frankly better message, and I really don’t think they meant anything else by it. Elsa was letting her personality go, and if anything, I feel that a man in her life that early on after she “let it go” would have weakened her character substantially. Disney made the right choices in Frozen, but I don’t think that they meant their message to be about homosexuality. So that’s my take on that idea. I hope this answered your question. Thanks for asking me, and thank you for taking the time to read this blog post! 🙂

       
      • Suz

        July 8, 2014 at 1:31 pm

        Hi Rierierose,

        One of the reasons I hardly ever post anything online (this is only the second time I’ve done it!) is because I know I will regret it… and after about 30 seconds of posting my previous comment, I began to do so! I think you are right. And Disney, for all their “modern” outlook on gender (about time too!) are nowhere near progressive enough to have that as a major character motivator, even as a deeply-buried subtext. But I still don’t really understand why Elsa is so scared of hurting people (I am assuming that her uncontrollable “powers” are a metaphor for something – what???)

        As a humerous aside, my 5-year old daughter (the whole reason why I am so into this film) asked me the other day if, when we were waiting for her to be born (we knew we were having a girl) and were choosing names, if we had thought about Olaf…!

         
        • Rierierose

          July 10, 2014 at 8:20 am

          We see in the opening scenes of Frozen that before hurting Anna, Elsa wasn’t at all scared of her powers. Even as a child, she loved Anna, and knowing that her gift could hurt, or even kill, her sister made her fear it. Then, when she is taken to the trolls and shown a vision of a mob attacking her older self, I think any child would have been terrified. Her parents obviously were too, as they thought the best course of action would be to lock Elsa up until she could control her powers. Eighteen years of trying tirelessly to control her powers and keep them hidden even hidden from Anna, is ample reason for her to be afraid of them for the majority of the movie. Elsa and her powers are a metaphor for a couple different things, actually. Elsa is a picture of depression, which makes sense when you consider her actions. Her powers are a talent that she fears or doesn’t want, and so tries to hide. But when you hide yourself and your true personality, you can end up urging yourself more than anyone around you. And when you run from your fears, you can end up hurting everyone you tried to protect by running. Does that answer your questions?

          Also, your daughter. Lol! I guess little ones like that don’t always quite get the boy name/girl name difference.

           

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