Learning Something New

by Don Meyer, Ph.D. | Apr 25, 2015

“I’ve always gotten a thrill, a kick, from learning new things.”
Cynthia Kenyon

For quite some time now, I have known about the famous song “Let It Go” from the movie “Frozen” which was released in 2013. Whether it was Idina Menzel singing the Oscar-winning song or it was a host of imitations of little girls on YouTube, most of us have heard it over and over.

I knew about that song and I knew it was important in that movie, which now is the highest grossing animated film of all time and one of Disney’s top franchises, but what I didn’t know was where that song fit in the movie and what was really being “let go.”

Evie and I found out when we recently turned on our fireplace, popped some popcorn and settled in to watch the movie. We learned that the song presents the ostracized Queen Elsa who abandons her kingdom when her magical ability to create and control ice and snow is discovered by her people. Up in the mountains, away from confused and suspicious onlookers, Elsa realizes that she no longer needs to hide her abilities. 

There she declares herself free from the restrictions she has had to endure since childhood. She rejoices in being able to use her power without fear or limit, to let her past go, and manipulate snow to create a living snowman and a magnificent castle for herself. 

As I heard that song in its context, I finally learned something about the meaning of the song. I might add that I basically agree with the message of letting go of that which hinders us from our past to become our real self. However, if we take that perspective to an extreme and we embrace limitless freedom without any boundaries, the effects on us may be less positive for us than for Elsa. 

But my purpose here is not to over-interpret the meaning of the song “Let It Go” but to share how wonderful it was to learn something new. There is just something special that happens when we learn new things. 

And, since I am on that topic, here are a few more things I recently learned about movies:

A young Julie Andrews played the role of Eliza Doolittle in Broadway’s “My Fair Lady,” but studio heads decided she wasn’t a big enough star to play in the movie, so they replaced her with Audrey Hepburn. So, Andrews signed on for the Mary Poppins role and won the Oscar that year for best actress.
“Lawrence of Arabia” was a 216-minute movie with a cast of thousands and yet not a single woman was cast in a speaking role.

According to Disney, there were 6,469,952 spots painted on the cartoon dogs in “101 Dalmatians.”

After snoozing through a screening of “Gone with the Wind” at the White House, President Franklin D. Roosevelt complained, “No movie has a right to be that long.”  

In “The Wizard of Oz,” the dog Toto’s salary was $125 a week, while Judy Garland’s was $500 a week; the costume of the cowardly lion was made of real lion skins; and the ruby red slippers from the movie were sold off at an auction for $66,000.

“Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” from “Frozen” is sung in part by a little girl named Katie Lopez, the daughter of the writers of the song.  

The story of Mulan had been told in China for almost 1,500 years before Disney decided to make it into an animated movie.  
More people attended the opening of “Snow White” in 1937 than the opening of “Star Wars” in 1977. 

Learning new things is always exciting. But as Abigail Adams said, “Learning is not attained by chance. It must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence.”  

Think about it.

Dr. Don Meyer is President of 
University of Valley Forge, Phoenixville, Pa. 
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