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Why ‘Let It Go’ Is Such a Perfect Movie Song

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"Why ‘Let It Go’ Is Such a Perfect Movie Song"

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11:19 pm

Why 'Let It Go' Is Such a Perfect Movie Song

Idina Menzel the week before the Academy Awards.

Idina Menzel the week before the Academy Awards.

CREDIT: AP Images/Dan Hallman

Something seemed off about Idina Menzel’s performance of “Let It Go,” the song from Frozen that’s won some adoption as a gay and trans anthem, and that is by any measure, a terrific song–and it wasn’t just John Travlota’s hideous mispronunciation of her name. She sounded a bit eaten up by the orchestra, trying to find a tempo, and her voice seemed thin and strained by the end. But one thing that struck me about Menzel’s performance was how much it lost in the translation from animation to live-action and the stage.

Menzel was mostly still during “Let It Go,” by the songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, but in Frozen, Elsa, the queen who has a the ability to control snow and ice (and to transform things into those materials), sings it during a period of extraordinary activity. She marches up a mountain, runs up a bridge of her own design, and conjures up a palace for herself that rivals the one Dr. Manhattan spins for himself on Mars in Watchmen. She transforms her dress, spinning herself a cape of hoarfrost, and takes her hair down from its stiff updo. It’s a lovely marriage of music and action, and Elsa’s physical liberation is lovely to witness, especially after watching her fold in on herself to try to keep her power under control. Animation is beginning to catch up with live action in giving us girls who are physically powerful and who enjoy what their bodies can do, whether they’re hunting in Brave or building worlds in Frozen. “Let It Go” was a gorgeous expression of that idea.

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