Chapter 1: The Quest for Pura Vida

Do You Want to Build a Snowman?

Months ago, before I left for Costa Rica, my sister and I went to see Monsters University.  It was the first time for her, and the second for me (I have this habit of watching movies I really like in theaters more than once).  I already knew she would love the teaser trailer for Frozen, and I was not disappointed.  We were in a theater of laugh-happy children, but Rachel out-laughed them all at the end when the snowman sneezes for the second time.  Actually she out-laughed them the entire time we were in the theater.  This would have embarrassed me if she hadn’t been making me laugh as well.

From that day, she threatened me with some unknown penalty if I saw the movie without her.

For anyone who doesn’t know her personally, Rachel is my only sibling.  She is three years (and twelve days) older than me and terrifying.  She was upset the day I came out of the womb because I couldn’t play with her, and since that day, she has never slowed down for me, instead expecting me to keep up.  Which I learned to do.

I spent my life following her.  I gashed open the back of both my legs on a chair, flipped over the handlebars of a bike, stole candy out of the candy jar, and wrote my name on the wall in yellow sparkly crayon trying to keep up.  And with good reason.  This girl who came from the same place as me, who is so strong and passionate, is worth following.  I never tried to be her; I just wanted to be around her.

A couple of nights ago, we were analyzing The Hunger Games (book) and I mentioned that I thought Prim was underdeveloped for the role and impact she is supposed to have late in the series.  Prim’s characterization is based on Katniss’ protectiveness and idealization of her little sister rather than direct contact between the reader and Prim, so those few scenes where we catch a glimpse of who Prim is are precious, but not enough for us to conceive of her as an individual.

Rachel disagreed.

She started talking about how she related to Katniss’ feelings for Prim and understands the decisions and reactions that are based on Prim.  I don’t want to put spoilers in here for anyone who hasn’t read the books so I can’t really go into depth, but Rachel talking about it made me realize that not only am I a younger sister, but she’s an older sister, too.  I mean, it’s obvious, but I’ve never really thought about it.

The next night, we went to see Frozen.   My friend had told me it was a “good sister movie”, but I didn’t really understand why.  We were going for the snowman.  Actually, I knew almost nothing about it.  When the first song started, I got excited; I didn’t even know there was singing.  I was half-expecting it to be like Brave–good, but with so many missed song opportunities.  But I digress.

Hands-down, the best part of the movie was the sister relationship between Elsa and Ana.  My critique is that IT WASN’T ENOUGH.  Everyone’s all happy because it broke the Prince Charming mold and all, and that’s great, or whatever.  I won’t get into my weird brand of (non?)feminism.  But here’s the deal, for every minute of screen-time put into the romance conundrums, we lost a bit of the sister story.  Here’s where I wish they would have followed Brave‘s lead, but instead of making a statement about the heroine’s right to not fall in love/get married just because it was “time” like in Brave, they could have not written the romance question in to begin with.

In one of the early songs in the movie, “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?”, I started crying–and I don’t cry in movies.  After that scene, the movie started skating over issues, just giving us enough of a glimpse to let us realize what we were missing, and the ending was a happily-ever-after even though only the surface problems were resolved.  They really should have split the characters and themes into two separate movies (although not necessarily in the same world) because every bit of the story is worth telling.  Maybe I’m just biased toward the sister story since there aren’t that many good sister movies while there’s so many romance stories.

As we walked out of the theater, I kept talking about what could have been better and how it was full of cop-outs.  My sister had to keep reminding me, “Renee, it’s a kid’s movie.  It has to end happily-ever-after.”  In my defense, the last two movies I’ve watched are Catching Fire and Blood Diamond, and I’m reading Les Misérables, which are all outstanding and well-written stories with an impact and relatively devoid of cop-outs, so I was measuring Frozen to an impossible standard.

Long story short, though, I love my sister and I’m glad we watched the movie together and I can’t put into words what the sister bits of the story meant to me.  If you haven’t seen the movie, go see it.  Preferably with your sister, but for those unfortunate enough to not have a sister, someone you really care about.

Also, as a side-note, we were the laugh-section of the theater full of kids again.  Dat snowman.

As another side-note, merry early-Christmas!

Edit: This is a good idea for a reprise of “Do You Want To Build a Snowman?”.


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