Seven years after “Let it Go” earwormed its way into the minds of children everywhere, the eagerly awaited sequel to Disney’s hit movie Frozen has finally arrived. If you have young kids, you’ve probably already seen it, but if not, it makes for surprisingly resonant Thanksgiving-week viewing, especially here in Charlottesville.
In Frozen 2 (spoilers ahead!) royal sisters Elsa and Anna discover that 1) Their mother belonged to a local Native tribe, and 2) Said tribe was betrayed by their own (non-Native) grandfather, who, out of fear and greed, killed the tribal chief and attempted to destroy the tribe’s lands, through the building of a dam presented as a gift.
Upon learning this, Anna does not try to justify her family’s crimes by talking about how things were different back then, or that we can’t be blamed for the past. She doesn’t opine about how beautiful the dam is or how destroying it would be erasing history. Instead, she acknowledges that this past wrong must be righted, and risks her life to destroy the dam, even though it will flood Arendelle and wipe out her own home.
This is a Disney movie, of course, so in the end, Anna is unharmed and her act of righteousness saves her sister, who in turn saves Arendelle. In real life, doing what’s morally right often comes with much graver consequences.
Still, what a pleasure to see a story for children that feels appropriate to our times. The question of how to keep going when every good thing feels doomed is addressed quite neatly in the film by a 2-foot-tall troll by the name of “Grand Pabbie.” And it seems I’m not the only one to, abashedly, derive comfort from his advice, which Anna repeats at her darkest hour: “When you can’t see the future, just do the next right thing.”