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Can’t Let It Go: “Frozen II” and Grappling With the Past…

As far as animated sequels go, Frozen II works well. For better or for worse, it goes bigger and grander, sacrificing a little focus for a larger story.

However, the most striking aspect of Frozen II is the way in which it seems to grapple with one of the big existential anxieties of the modern era. Frozen II spends a lot of time and energy delving into the histories of Anna and Elsa, opening with a mythology-building flashback and offering a few tantalising hints about the source of Elsa’s power. However, this is part of a larger conversation that unfolds across the film’s runtime. Frozen II isn’t just about grappling with Anna and Elsa’s personal history, it is asking more ambitious questions about how the past shapes the present.

Of course, Frozen II is the story of two sisters embarking on an epic quest with an adorable snowman. However, it is also a story about the legacy of colonial exploitation of indigenous populations by nominally more advanced societies, and about coming to terms with the consequences of those historical injustices in the modern era. It isn’t always elegant or perfect. Indeed, Frozen II occasionally seems quite candid that it doesn’t know the answers to the questions that it is broaching.

Nevertheless, it’s fascinating to see these topics permeating popular culture, with shows like Watchmen and films like Thor: Ragnarok grappling with questions of what it means to live in a society built on historical injustice.

Note: This piece contains spoilers for Frozen II.

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