Monday, January 27, 2014

Plotting with Frozen {Part 2}

Last Monday, I posted part one of this series (click here) which talked about Anna, the hero of Disney's movie, Frozen.  And while Anna and Elsa share the roll of main character in this story.  (I would say.)  I personally felt much more attracted to Elsa, who takes the roll of the anit-hero.

**This post will contain spoilers from the move Frozen, so read at your own discretion.**

I feel like people define anit-heroes differently.  For me, the term anti-hero can mean one of three things.
1) A person who does not want to go on a quest, adventure, ect. and is dragged along because they must.  Heroes go on quests because that's how they reach their goal.  Anti-heroes go on quests because there is no other option.
2) A person who's past has set them apart from everyone else.  The story starts when something from their past (normally the thing that set them apart) drags them back into reality.
3) A person whose goal is a negative.  Their goal is not to make something happen, but to keep something from happening.

I think Elsa is at least 2) and 3) if not all three. Anti-heroes are less typical, but Elsa fits in pretty well.

  • Elsa has a negative goal. She wants to not let her magic show.  She doesn't want to hurt anyone.
  • Elsa has a back-story.  In a novel, Elsa's back-story probably wouldn't be revealed until later in the novel, but since Frozen is a film, we see Elsa's tragic back-story right off the bat, with her almost killing her little sister, Anna, by accident. This is the incident that made Elsa recoil from the world around her.
  • We also have the Thing at Stake.  If Elsa fails to hide her power, she could be killed by her subjects, or she could get them hurt.
All of that information is pertanit to the story, but it doesn't make for much in terms of actual scenes. Let's look at those.
Act 1
  • Every god story has the Inciting Incident somewhere in the first chapter.  In Frozen, Elsa's inciting incident is facing her coronation day. She has shut herself away from people, but if she wants to be a good rules, she must face her subjects and make herself vulnerable.
  • Next you have the Initial Success.  In Frozen Elsa takes her gloves off for her coronation and doesn't let anyone see her powers.  Which of course means it's time for
  • The Initial Failure.  Elsa fails when she gets angry at Anna and lets lose her power.  She has failed her first goal, to conceal her magic from everyone.  
  • Reaction to Failure. One thing that I think separates anti-heroes from heroes is that anti-heroes take failure much harder than heroes.  In the case of Elsa, she uses her failure as a chance to run away from society, which she does with the song Let it Go.

*Just a note that in many anti-hero stories, Act 1 all happened before the opening of the story and it comes out as back-story.

Act 2
  • Anna finds Elsa and Someone Reaches Out to the Anti-Hero.
  • Refusal 1, Elsa rejects Anna.
  • Stakes are Raised, Elsa finds out that by using her powers, she's cast in kingdom into eternal winter.
  • In most anti-hero stories, there would be a few more chances for our hero to refuse, but because of the duel main characters for Frozen, Disney just didn't have time for that.
  • Then, near the end of act 2, the anit-hero is Forced to Rejoin Society.  In Elsa's case, she is literally knocked out and dragged back to the palace.
Act 3
  • In a Plot Twist, Elsa finds out that her sister, Anna, has frozen to death. She is tried with treason and things are looking bleak.
  • Elsa has a Dark Moment
  • Elsa Rallies.  She gets out of the palace and tries to leave society once more.
  • In the Climax, the Stakes are Raised when it looks like Prince Hans in going to kill Elsa.
  • Elsa lives and gets her victory.  It's an Assisted Victory, because Anna helped her, but a victory nonetheless.  Another sign that this is an anti-hero's story is that while the rally is made alone, the victory takes the help of society in an anti-hero story.
  • (Apparent) Personal Loss: Elsa has accidentally frozen Anna.
  • Happy Ending: Anna's act of true love for Elsa was enough to reverse her sister's magic.
  • Anti-Hero Rejoins Society: Elsa learns that love melts her magic, undoing it.  Shutter herself away all these years has just made the frozen-ness worse.  Now she can control her magic and therefore doesn't have to shut herself away. 

Before Story Opening:
Negative Goal.
Thing at Stake
Act 1
Inciting Incident 
Initial Success
The Initial Failure
Reaction to Failure
*Just a note that in many anti-hero stories, Act 1 all happened before the opening of the story and it comes out as back-story.

Act 2
Someone Reaches Out to the Anti-Hero
Refusal 1
Stakes are Raised
Additional Reaching Out
Forced to Rejoin Society.

Act 3
Plot Twist
Dark Moment
Rally Alone

Stakes are Raised 
Assisted Victory
(Apparent) Personal Loss:
Happy Ending
Anti-Hero Rejoins Society

This is the typical (as typical as you get) plot of a story with an anti-hero.  Next Monday, we might  have part 3 of this series, with Kristoff, the secondary character.

Have you seen Frozen?  Did you like Anna or Elsa better?  Which one do you think is the main character of Frozen? Are there any major plot points I left out?  Are there essential plot details that Frozen doesn't have?  Anything that's a little confusing?  Leave a comment and let me know!


  1. Lovely post, Sarah! :) I believe that Anna is the MC, but Elsa plays a pretty big roll, and without her, there would be no story. It's quite confusing in my opinion.

    TW Wright
    Ravens and Writing Desks

  2. I loved Frozen! I'd have to say I liked Elsa better as a character. There was intense internal and external conflict that she had to go through, while I felt like Anna's obstacles were mostly physical. I liked Anna, too, but Elsa was more interesting (in my opinion.) Of course, I've always had a soft spot for anti-heroes. Great post! Your post last week was awesome, too.

    1. I have always loved anti heroes. I feel like they are so much more romantic, tragic, and tortured than the boring old hero. And I'm definitely on team Elsa. I feel like she's the main character because she is fundamentally different at the end of the story than she was at the beginning.
      Thanks for commenting!

    2. Loved this! And yes, I totally am an anti-hero fangirl. Elsa's story was so much more complex, I thought, than Anna's, as much as I loved her.

  3. I think there's a #4 in Things That Make an Anti-Hero -- and it fits Elsa, too. It's that, in a story with both a hero and anti-hero, the anti-hero's goal is exactly opposite the hero's. In Frozen, Anna wants love, companionship, friends. She wants a relationship with her sister. While Elsa, in wanting to hide her magic and keep everybody safe from herself, wants isolation. She wants to pull away from everyone, including Anna.

    1. That's a very good point. I totally agree. Thanks for commenting!

  4. There’s something special about this movie that I’m soooo addicted to it. Maybe because it tells more of sisterly love, something that’s been neglected to most of the romantic animated films. Happy enough that Frozen the movie was a sure hit at home. Lol!
    In my attempt to find hooked viewers as me, I came to your pretty blog. =D Thanks for sharing your own point of views about this film=0


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