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We Are Not Talking Enough About Anna in Frozen 2

Anna and Elsa standing side by side in Frozen 2.

When it comes to Disney’s Frozen 2, lot of attention has been placed on Elsa’s journey, from both a fan and a critical perspective. She’s the character who belts out the earworms of the decade, gets the magical makeover (twice!), and has awesome ice powers that are the envy of introverts everywhere. I’ll take an ice palace for one, please!

It’s hard not to love our Anxiety Queen; Elsa’s transformation from doubting herself to coming into control of her powers has been relatable for fans of all ages. However, Anna is an Arendelle royal to watch, as well. Anna’s journey in Frozen 2 is equally as important as Elsa’s, and it’s not getting nearly the attention it deserves.

After a flashback featuring their mother’s lullaby, Frozen 2 really gets going with the song “Some Things Never Change.” On the surface, it’s an upbeat group number, but it’s indicative of everyone’s headspace at the beginning of the film. As Anna tells Olaf, “I don’t worry because I have you and Elsa and Kristoff and Sven, and the gates are open.” She’s finally gotten everything she’s ever wanted since she was a romance-obsessed baby princess. She’s got her man, a beautiful relationship with her sister, and a snowman best friend.

When Elsa decides to go to the north, Anna doesn’t want to hold her back, but she doesn’t want to be left behind, either. Anna treats Elsa almost how a mother treats a child—at one point, she even sings their mother’s lullaby to her. Anna is extremely protective over Elsa and hates that she puts herself in danger, despite Elsa clearly being able to take care of herself. Anna also gets upset that Elsa didn’t tell her right away that she was hearing a voice.

In the context of both films, however, Anna’s reactions are in line with her character. She has been fixated on Elsa her entire life, and moving past that is not a change that happens easily. Even when Elsa wouldn’t open the door for her for years, Anna continued to knock. Anna’s greatest fear, at this point, is Elsa’s absence—emotionally or physically.

That’s the thing about love and growing up, though: You learn that, to quote Dr. Maya Angelou, “love liberates.” Love isn’t about binding someone to you—it’s about giving them the freedom and support to be themselves. Anna learns this lesson, and how to let go of her controlling nature, in the most brutal way. For the first time in two films, Anna gets a solo song in a scene where she is completely alone. She has never gotten the sole attention of the audience in a musical scene; she’s always shared the song with another character. So, it’s something we need to pay attention to.

Thinking is Elsa is dead, Anna cries all night and sings “The Next Right Thing,” which is quite unlike anything we’ve heard in a Disney film before. Anna is in the midst of a depressive episode and is working through those feelings out loud. The first verse has the lines “The life I knew is over/ The lights are out / Hello, darkness/ I’m ready to succumb.” Hopelessness, and the feeling of intense grief, is encapsulated in just about three sentences. It’s quite an achievement on the parts of the songwriters, Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez.

A song like this is significant for children who may be predisposed to depression or who are having a difficult time adjusting to massive changes in their lives. Not every song can be “Into the Unknown,” but this song is special in its own right. Anna resolves to keep taking steps forward to do the next right thing, no matter how slow or difficult it is. It’s a mature lesson to instill in children and one that resonates with adults, as well. Part of growing older is coping with the realization that there’s very little we can completely control in our lives. What we can control, however, is our mindset.

When Anna realizes Elsa is alive, she doesn’t double down on the protectiveness. Instead, she accepts that Elsa belongs with the Northuldra. The physical distance between them, which is so much larger than a door now, no longer matters to Anna. She has learned the lesson that loving someone means giving them the space to be the best version of themselves, even if it means fewer game nights. As a result, Anna is able to put that energy towards herself and her relationships outside of her sister—such as the guy with the line of dialogue that had feminists twitterpated the world over, Mr. “my love isn’t fragile,” Kristoff. Kristoff is there for Anna when she needs him, and yet, Anna’s focus isn’t solely on Kristoff, as it should be.

If we had to choose one hero of Frozen 2, it’s Anna. It’s her idea to break the dam because she realizes Arendelle will have no future if she doesn’t make things right. She has just learned that lesson from Pabbie, and she puts it into action to get through her grief and to save her kingdom. In the process of making things right, she inadvertently saves Elsa, as well, for the second time in the franchise. She practices what she sings about, and as Elsa says, Anna “did what was right for everyone”—not just for herself or for her sister, but everyone. Anna is as important to the story as Elsa, even without powers. A bridge has two sides, and she’s the second part of the bridge between Arendelle and the Northuldra. Anna becomes who she was always meant to be: the Queen of Arendelle.

This is the best possible ending for Anna. She has an identity outside of her sister, and a man who shows up when she needs him and says, “I’m here. What do you need?”  Anna doesn’t cling to the past nor anyone else. She’s the one who has “let it go” now—and she got her own costume change in the end, as well.

(image: Disney)

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Angie is a freelance entertainment journalist based in SoCal whose hobbies include boxing and going to Disneyland. A Ravenclaw at heart, she'll read the book before she watches the thing.