As has been observed before, Elsa is unquestionably Disney’s most Nietzschean heroine, an individual who is elevated above the common run of humanity by her superior talents, yet who is imperiled by the resentment of the mob.
Elsa’s famous line in her signature song, “No right, no wrong, no rules for me,” is a precise echo of Nietzsche’s celebrated formulation, “Beyond good and evil.”
This link between Elsa and Nietzsche’s philosophy is signalled by the dramatic scene during the “Let It Go” sequence when Elsa emerges out onto her balcony to greet the rising sun. Nietzsche’s most celebrated work, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, similarly begins with the title character stepping out into the light of a sunrise – a scene that was famously put to music by Richard Strauss in his tone poem of the same name, Also Sprach Zarathustra.
The following selections from Nietzsche indicate the congruence between Elsa’s isolation in the mountains and related metaphors and themes in the great German philosopher’s works:
"When Zarathustra was thirty years old he left his home and the lake of his home and went into the mountains. Here he enjoyed his spirit and his solitude, and for ten years did not tire of it. But at last a change came over his heart, and one morning he rose with the dawn, stepped before the sun, and spoke to it thus: ‘You great star, what would your happiness be had you not those for whom you shine?’" ~Thus Spoke Zarathustra
"He who climbs upon the highest mountains laughs at all tragedies, real or imaginary." ~Thus Spoke Zarathustra
"O heaven above me, pure and deep! You abyss of light! Seeing you, I tremble with godlike desires. To throw myself into your height, that is my depth. To hide in your purity, that is my innocence." ~Thus Spoke Zarathustra
"Philosophy, as I have hitherto understood and lived it, is a voluntary living in ice and high mountains." ~Ecce Homo
"Why is it that one feels so well in nature? Because it has no opinion about us." ~Notes
"Wagner attains to an elevation and sanctity of mood that makes us think of the glowing ice- and snow-covered peaks of the Alps, so pure, solitary, inaccessible, chaste, and bathed in the light of love does nature appear here; clouds and storms, even the sublime itself, are beneath it." ~Untimely Meditations
"A few hours’ mountain climbing turns a rogue and a saint into two roughly equal creatures." ~The Wanderer and His Shadow
"The fundamental idea of culture is that the great moments of the past form a chain, like a chain of mountains which unites mankind across the centuries." ~Philosophy and Truth
"He who knows how to breathe the air of my writings knows that it is an air of the heights, a robust air. One has to be made for it, otherwise there is no small danger that one will catch cold." ~Ecce Homo
"The condition of pleasure called intoxication is precisely an exalted feeling of power — The sensations of space and time are altered: tremendous distances are surveyed and, as it were, for the first time apprehend; the extension of vision over greater masses and expanses." ~The Will to Power
"In the Alps I am unassailable, especially when I am alone and have no enemy except myself." ~Letters
The video posted above merges the scene of Elsa walking out into the sunrise with the opening of Strauss’s tone poem. Be sure to turn up your speakers, as the opening is very quiet, before it builds into a powerful crescendo.
The performance is by the Berlin Philharmonic, conducted by the legendary Herbert von Karajan, in the definitive interpretation of this composition, available [here].
I don’t even like Nietzsche that much and I think Elsa as the übermensch is way superior and more thought-provoking than any interpretation of her powers Tumblr and Tvtropes has come up with.
You know…this appeals to me as a philosophy student.