'Frozen': A Kristoff Appreciation Post
Why does Kristoff always get the shaft?
I’ve loved Disney from the start—I mean, who doesn’t? It’s Disney! But as much as I love it, in recent years I’ve been bothered that the princes of Disney don’t get much recognition. Of course, next to the princesses, the princes will always be out of the spotlight, since the focus is really not meant to be on them (except in the case of Aladdin), and for the most part their personalities are also minimum—or should I say were? The first few Disney princes were very bland characters, just there to be the man of our leading ladies' dreams and occasionally fight off a dragon or two, and that’s perfectly fine in context of the movies; However, in more recent films, starting in the Disney Renaissance, the princes have been gaining larger roles and been given a lot more personality. Though these characters have only been getting stronger, they are still, for the most part, shoved to the sidelines, and there is one male lead who I feel is the most unappreciated of them all, and that is none other than Frozen’s Kristoff. Though technically he's not in the official lineup what, with Frozen being its own franchise separate from the princesses, I'm still counting him as one because he would be if Frozen wasn't strong enough to stand on its own.
Why Kristoff, you ask? He's pretty well known. Yes, that's true—but does that always mean that he is ever brought into the spotlight? While Frozen is still everywhere, even after several years of its theatrical release, it seems as though Kristoff always gets the short end of the stick. On all of the Frozen merchandise, there is rarely ever any imagery of this mountaineer even though he is nearly in the entirety of the movie. In fact, he is the first major character that we are introduced to! Who’s there when the ice workers sing their song? Not Anna, not Elsa, but Kristoff. A cute, adorable little Kristoff and his reindeer, working hard to become the best iceman he could be.
Getting back to my point, the three characters advertised on every Frozen product are Anna, Elsa, and Olaf. If Kristoff is ever included, he is always with the three previously mentioned and is rarely a stand-alone character. I do recall when the film first came out there were toddler Kristoff dolls being sold in the Disney store, and yes, they do occasionally sell the elusive Kristoff plush doll—I recently bought one myself, because apparently no one else was going to—it was on sale for 40 percent off while the snow sisters remained at full price. These were the brand new dolls for Olaf's Frozen Adventure. They didn't even give the poor guy a chance before they decided "who wants a doll of this guy?" Everything was really all about Olaf. While I don’t by any means dislike Olaf, I am a little annoyed that, when Frozen merchandise is advertised to boys, Olaf is the only mascot used. Kristoff is a great role model and overall character, why can't he be featured on more Frozen merchandise? To be honest, I’ve seen more toys of Marshmallow and the trolls made then I have of Kristoff! There’s something wrong with this picture.
Oh my goodness, my four favorite characters! Anna, Elsa, Snowflake, and Olaf! Kristoff would be nice too, but man, that Snowflake just stole the show!
I also couldn't happen to notice that in Disney Jr. I Am a Princess TV spot (because as an adult I should be watching the age-appropriate Disney Jr.) that, when giving a synopsis of the movie, they totally skipped over Kristoff's introduction. They have time to give Olaf a mention, heck, they even give Marshmallow a shoutout, but just skip right over Kristoff. Even if you didn't care for him in the movie, you can not ignore the fact that without him the story would be a LOT different! I'm sure that the kids probably mentioned him, but they had to cut it to save time, and I'm probably taking a simple kid's commercial way too seriously, but I can't help but be bothered that such an important character is simply tossed aside.
Even Disney makes fun of how much they push Kristoff aside as well, as seen in the Frozen Sing-A-Long show at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida. I remember seeing Kristoff walk on the stage, getting all excited because I didn’t think I’d see him anywhere outside of the Frozen Ever After ride, and the first thing he tells the two hosts is “You know, I helped in the story, too,” to which both hosts respond by bursting out in laughter. After shouting over the crowd “I believe you, Kristoff!” I started thinking of just how important he was to the plot of Frozen. Take Kristoff out of the equation, and the movie wouldn’t have been the same at all.
After Elsa strikes Anna in the head with her ice powers, the King and Queen take the two children to see the trolls. They run past Kristoff along the way, who curiously follows the mysterious trail of ice left behind by Elsa. This would introduce him to the trolls, who later become an important role in saving Anna for the second time in the future. Without Kristoff knowing the trolls, Anna would not have found out the cure to save her heart from freezing over. Some may debate that Elsa would have remembered, but in her emotional state, who knows how well that would have worked out or if she even would have helped at all. It’s all about connections, and Kristoff had the connections.
Speaking of Anna, would she have known where to go if she hadn’t run into Kristoff? Probably not. Anna, as we can see when she attempts to scale the North Mountain, did not have any experience with mountain climbing, and even if she was able to figure out where Elsa was, would probably not have been able to get there on her own. Kristoff was the main source of both information and navigation throughout the film. He knew exactly where the source of the unusual cold was coming from and how to get there. There were no mistakes made along the way. Kristoff knew exactly where he was going without any detours or delays. Anna knew this the moment she met him, which was why she pursued to enlist him on her quest. His survival skills also came into play when it came to the pursuit of the wolves and the escape from Marshmallow. He remained calm in each situation and took it as it came. Though it was possible for her to run into someone else who might have known the way, how many of them would have accompanied her? Would have been able to handle her eccentric outbursts and antics? No one fits the bill better than Kristoff.
There’s one scene that pops into mind when thinking of how well Anna and Kristoff work off each other, and that’s when they’re fleeing Marshmallow after Anna throws a snowball at him. The quick tidbit of them going back and forth just flows so naturally and creates a sense of familiarity, as though they’ve known each other for ages (even though we know they’ve only just met). Their personalities work so well with one another. When they first meet, it seems like Disney is taking the typical path of making two people who don’t get along having to work together when Kristoff seems reluctant, but that quickly fades as we immediately see the characters start to interact casually once the journey begins. It then turns into a disagreement, yes, but neither Kristoff or Anna hold onto any grudges and proceed through the movie without any petty bickering. Anna, you’re definitely getting your share of praise throughout this article as well, but let's get back to our main focus —though we won’t just leave you out of the conversation entirely.
We’re still not finished talking about their relationship. As most other Disney princes, Kristoff does his fair share to make sure that Anna is happy and safe and out of all the princes, Kristoff, he is on the same level as Beast in these regards. He escorted her where she needed to go, put her before himself when retreating from the wolf attack, guided her to the trolls to heal her and keeping her warm along the way, let her go to Hans, believing it was her best chance, came back for her when he knew she was in danger, and while Kristoff didn’t get his chance to give Hans a piece of his mind, he surely would have if Anna didn’t. Most importantly, stepping back in the story just a little bit, if Anna did not perform her own act of true love, Kristoff surely would have given the kiss to thaw her frozen heart.
Anna is not the only major relationship Kristoff has in this movie. We have to talk about Sven (who, while not as much, also takes a side seat to the Frozen King, Olaf). I mean, there is no Kristoff without Sven. Well, there is, but, let's face it, it’s just not the same. Not only was Kristoff trying to save Anna in the wolf chase, but he was trying to save his best reindeer buddy. Cutting the rope from the sled would increase the two’s chance to escaping, even if it meant without him. He also cares so much about his animal companion that he would not have progressed any further without knowing that Sven was safe when he fell into the ice-cold water of the fjords when on their quest to rescue Anna. He waited, and I’m even willing to bet he would have jumped in after his trusty steed if he didn’t see any sign that he was safe. Not only does he protect people, but he protects animal as well—what a nice guy.
While there is so much about him that just makes him a good person, there’s also just as much that makes him an overall interesting character compared to the other Disney princes. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Disney princes, but there are many things that make Kristoff unique and stand out among them. First thing is that he isn’t a real prince, he’s a mountaineer. He is this burly man's man that, I would argue, is physically way stronger than any of the other princes (I mean, maybe the Beast would be a challenge for him in a one-on-one match, but that’s ONLY when he’s the Beast—he could so take on Adam). This being said, though, he’s not one of the more well-spoken princes, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Like most of the other princes who are cunning and charming, Kristoff just speaks his mind and sticks to his opinions. I can safely say he is the only prince bold enough to say all men pick their nose and eat it. Just quirks like that make him such an interesting character to watch, and of course, that includes his thing with the reindeer (that’s a little outside of nature's laws).
I think that Kristoff and Sven have to be the closest human-animal companions in terms of men of Disney animation, while I would say a close second would be Aladdin and Abu. They’re totally in sync, which can clearly be seen in how Kristoff “translates” for Sven. These two have been together since the beginning, and I’m really glad that we actually got to see a little into Kristoff’s past as well as the main two heroines. I think the closest we’ve ever gotten to this was Prince Phillip’s appearance in the early scenes of Sleeping Beauty. Not that we haven’t gotten backstory for princes before, but this was the first time we actually got to see it instead of hearing it through exposition.
Though he always ends up sort of smelly, Kristoff is definitely a character that I would love to see more of throughout the Disney parks, films, productions, merchandise, and any other forms they continue to slap Frozen onto. Truly an underrated gem that Disney has presented to us, and I hope that this article has enlightened you to give him a chance and allow him up onto the Frozen pedestal with the Arendelle sisters...and Olaf. And Sven. And Hans. And the Duke of Weaselton. And pretty much every other character in Frozen besides Kristoff—seriously, Disney, is it that hard to give him his own action figure? T-shirt? Keychain? ANYTHING! Well, I’m going to wrap this article up before I start going off on a tangent...Thanks for reading.