SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t seen either Frozen or Maleficent, I recommend you not read this until you do. I also recommend that you see those two films if you haven’t.
I really have to hand it to Disney. Over the course of six months, they have provided audiences with two films that take the formula of “true love” and turn it on its head. In Frozen, only an act of true love can melt a frozen heart and in Maleficent, only true love’s kiss can wake the sleeping beauty. But true love in those films did not come in the form of romantic true love.
One of the best aspects of these films is the gentle mocking of the notion of love at first sight. Anna is chided by several people for claiming she was in love and wanted to marry a man she just met in Frozen. In Maleficent, it’s Prince Philip himself who notes that he just met Aurora when the fairies push him to kiss her to awaken her from the curse. Philip is definitely attracted to the princess but he is not in love with her, and neither is Aurora with him. And so, the kiss fails to break the spell.
Romantic love is one of the greatest joys of the human experience. Disney has told that tale time and again over the course of the 20th century. However, this tale has been told so many times to the exclusion of all other great loves that I think we were starting to believe that romantic love was the only love really worth having.
Not everyone finds true love. Not everyone is looking for it either. Sometimes true love is there but then it doesn’t always last a lifetime. And love does not always have to be expressed in shared lives and sexual experiences. But without other stories to balance things out, one could be forgiven for thinking that true love is the answer to life, the universe and everything. (It isn’t, you know. 42 is the answer.)
Romantic stories are beautiful and uplifting and I still want them to be told. But I also want to see other kinds of love stories. And clearly so does everyone else since both of those films have done well at the box office.
Love is a many splendored thing, right?