No, Elsa did NOT Learn her Lesson

Image result for let it goThis is an idea I’ve seen repeated a couple of times, and it is an idea I considered once myself: That “Let it Go” took place in the midpoint of the movie and by the end of it Elsa has learned her lesson about responsibility and is ready to be a good ruler once more.

In this interpretation “Let it Go” is more like “Hakuna Matata” from “The Lion King”, a happy sounding philosophy about abdicating responsibility that is revealed to be wrong.

I get why people think this. Elsa does go back, after all.

But they’re wrong. It is not the same thing at all. In fact, it is not even close.

First, let’s take a look at “Hakuna Matata” in “The Lion King”. When does it occur in the story?

Simba has just witnessed his father’s murder, and worse, his uncle has convinced him that Mufasa’s death is actually his fault, due to his disobedience. What makes this worse is that Scar’s lie is based on a partial truth: Simba really DID disobey Mufasa, who DID enter into a dangerous situation because of Simba. He tells Simba that he will never be accepted into the Pride Lands again: He must run away and never return. Then he sends hyenas out to kill him, and Simba barely escapes with his life.

Heartbroken, tremendously guilty, and alone, Simba comes across Timon and Pumbaa, who see the opportunity to get a lion on their side. Seeing that Simba is haunted by his past, they convince him to “Let it Go”: To forget about his past and his family and his responsibilities and live with “No worries for the rest of his days”. For years Simba appears to live an idyllic life at a carefree paradise with his two new friends.

Then, one day, Nala shows up. She tells him that the entire Pride Lands would be thrilled at Simba’s return, that Scar has turned out to be a horrible tyrant, and that he needs to take over the throne. They have this wonderful exchange:

Nala Everything’s destroyed. There’s no food, no water.  Simba, if you don’t do something soon, everyone will starve.

Simba I can’t go back.

Nala {Louder} Why?

Simba You wouldn’t understand.

Nala What wouldn’t I understand?

Simba {Hastily} No, no, no. It doesn’t matter. Hakuna Matata.

Nala {Confused} What?

Simba Hakuna Matata. It’s something I learned out here.  Look, sometimes bad things happen…

Nala Simba!

Simba {Continuing, irritated} –and there’s nothing you can do about it! So why worry?

Simba starts away from Nala, walking on a fallen tree.  Nala trots back up to him.

Nala Because it’s your responsibility.

Do you understand the tremendous significance of this scene?

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NOPE

Simba has quoted Hakuna Matata to Nala, expressed his newfound philosophy of life – and Nala utterly rejects it. 

Simba is the king! He can’t just run off and do what he wants. He is responsible for his kingdom.

In any scene is Elsa ever criticized for her actions during “Let it Go”?

As it happens, yes! We get this exchange near the end of the film:

Elsa struggles through her own storm, but the fear is consuming her. A dark shadow approaches. It’s Hans.

HANS Elsa. You can’t run from this!

Elsa backs away from him.

ELSA …Just take care of my sister.

HANS Your sister? She returned from the mountain weak and cold. She said you froze her heart.

ELSA What? No.

HANS I tried to save her, but it was too late. Her skin was ice. Her hair turned white…

Elsa’s face sinks as she realizes what she has done.

HANS (CONT’D) Your sister is dead… because of you.

This is the only time in the film that Elsa is ever called out for her actions. Hans is absolutely correct! Instead of confronting her problem, Elsa tried to run away from it, and gave up any concept of controlling it at all…and as a result of her actions her sister is dying.

Except…who is the person who says this line?

It is the villain, Hans.

So how are things fixed? Does Elsa admit he’s right and strive to do better in the future? Does she vow never to cut loose like that again and learn to control herself?

No. She Loves Her Sister. And that’s it. Now she can control her powers. She never says that letting it go was a mistake.

She never works to learn control.

And that is the difference.

If this is something you’re having trouble buying, let’s do an experiment: Let’s re-write “Lion King” with the philosophy of “Frozen”.

Nala has gone off to find help, and found Simba. She tells Simba to come back to the Pride Lands, and Simba refuses, because he knows he’ll fail.

Scar, meanwhile, has learned of Nala’s mission, and suddenly worries that Nala will find Simba after consulting the hyenas about it. He rushes off in Nalas’s direction.

During an argument Simba accidentally injures Nala, who slinks off home, defeated. She spots Scar heading after Simba, and turns around to rescue him. Scar, who sees Nala limping, tells Simba he killed her, and while Simba freezes, horrified, Nala stops Scar from delivering the killing blow.

Simba realizes that the problem all along was that he didn’t love Nala enough, and after licking her face the Pride Lands miraculously turns green, the hyenas disperse, and the circle of life is rebalanced. When Scar tries to intervene, Nala headbutts him.

The end.

I trust you understand the issue now.

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Seriously this movie is awesome