Walt Disney Animation Studios, the studio that bought our cinema screens ‘Tangled’ (2010) and ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ (2012) return with another stunning, amusing and exciting adventure ‘Frozen’ (2013). ‘Frozen’ is directed by Chris Buck (Tarzan, 1999) and produced by Peter Del Vecho (The Princess and the Frog, 2009) along with the screenwriter of Disney’s most recent animated success ‘Wreck-It Ralph’, Jennifer Lee. The film also features music composed by award winner Robert Lopez, Christophe Beck and Kristen Anderson-Lopez.
The story of Frozen is an adaptation of a fairytale written in 1845 by the author Hans Christian Andersen known as The Snow Queen. Disney had come upon the idea to produce a film based on the story in the 1940s however the lead character, the snow queen had been described as problematical as she could be seen as a villain, unlikeable and not relatable by audiences. Glen Keane the producer of Tangled was notable for attempting to adapt the story for Disney in recent years, along with Pixar’s John Lasseter who displayed an interest in directing the challenging adaptation. After many years of the desire for The Snow Queen to enter production it became final that Chris Buck would direct the film followed by John Lasseter and Peter Del Vecho who would produce the film. Finally the film was in production with a delicate alteration that the film would be CGI- animation rather than tradition animation that Disney had planned to progress from The Princess and the Frog. Loosely based around the tale of The Snow Queen, Frozen becomes its own.
In the kingdom of Arendelle Elsa is the heir to the throne and lives with her younger sister Anna after their parents were in a fateful accident at sea. Elsa isn’t just an heir to the throne; she is a sorceress who has wintery powers that can create ice and snow as she pleases. After many years of trying to protect her sister from her powers they are finally revealed and Elsa runs up into the mountains leaving Arendelle in an eternal frozen state. Anna decides to ride into the mountains to convince her sister to return with the help of a woodsman and his reindeer who she meets on her journey along with a talking snowman named Olaf who is adorably and harmlessly funny as he has a desire for summertime despite the certainty that he would melt.
Frozen follows in the footsteps of previous Disney previous princess films with various musical ballads that are charming and memorable. Especially Broadway’s Wicked star Idina Menzel, who joins the cast of Frozen to voice the vocals of Elsa who steals the film with her musical number ‘Let It Go’ with her exceptionally powerful and authoritative vocals that truly brings the character of Elsa come to life with independence and compassion. Kristen Bell vocally performs as Anna who has songs of her own which are charming, soft and contrast when she pairs with Menzel to perform a reprise of ‘For The First In Forever’ which shows the striking differences between both vocalists but equally strengthen the musical number.
Frozen has stunning visuals with spectacular landscaping inspired by Norway and gorgeous characters that are similar to the CGI characters of Tangled. Both the female leads are similar with admirable gigantic blue eyes but also have their distinct differences with their facial expressions. Anna often has an innocent joyful smile with curious youthful eyes similar to a child whereas Elsa’s eyes often express certainly or alternatively at the beginning of the film her eyes are often widened with a sense of loneliness and melancholy for her sister who she distances herself from to keep her protected from her powers which she feels are a curse. Once again later in the film there appears to be a somewhat mischievous satisfied grin when using her powers. With numerous expressions appearing on the faces of the characters including sorrow and anger, the animators have accomplished in keeping the characters admirably pretty in the growing line of Disney Princesses that have all been beautifully drawn. The clothing designed for the characters are also enchanting. Elsa has a blue sparkling dress with glitter and a lot of detail that make the dress appear as if it were partially made from snowflakes. It also resembles a true Disney princess dress with its beauty and glamour. Meanwhile Anna’s outfit resembles culture and captures the wintery atmosphere flawlessly that creates an authenticity for the films environment. Continuing the animation style that made Tangled so fresh and astounding the detail in Frozen is impeccable, from the hair on the characters heads; each strand perceptible from the other whilst blowing gracefully as the characters make sudden movements, to the magnificent landscapes with rippled water surrounded by the castle that reflects onto the water blurring the waters colours stylishly and Elsa’s beautiful crystal ice palace that sits upon the snow filled mountains that reflects shades of lilac and deep purples into the sky that softens the it with a glowing haze.
What’s most impressive and surprising about Frozen’s story is that while before watching the film it may be expected that Elsa is to be a villain the film, it is actually quite the opposite. Disney has created the snow queen in a beautiful way with the bond of sisterhood between Elsa and Anna. Both Anna and Elsa are protagonists of the story both with virtuous morals. It is Elsa who tries to protect Anna from her powers through the entire story and in a final twist to the story Elsa is the one to save Anna through an act of true love rather than the male figures of the film. The story begins as Anna trying to bring her sister back to the kingdom and save her from her loneliness but with Elsa saving Anna in the one of the final scenes of the film it is clear that Disney has created something much more special by using this close bond between the characters. This is one of the first Disney animations to focus on the relationship of family. It also communicates a moral about naivety through Anna’s misjudgment of Hans who she decides to become engaged to after only a day of meeting him because she desires love so intensely. In a twist of the film Hans turns to be a villain and shows Anna’s childlike innocence and lack of experience with the world by making an impulsive judgment without truly getting to know Hans before becoming engaged. She also argues with Elsa as Elsa disapproves of the engagement, however as Elsa is the elder she only intends to protect Anna. This speaks to children lightly about their parents or elder family figures knowing or believing in what will be good for them. It is an innovative twist for a Disney princess film for the true love to be between two sisters rather than the prince and princess, which is refreshing and speaks of women as much more independent. It is also about self-acceptance and learning to accept others for their differences and to be content with this. Disney incorporates its messages with enough humour from Olaf, Kristoff and his reindeer Sven, for the film to still be an entertaining and exciting film for children to engage with. The relationship between Olaf and Sven is also charming in an unusual way. From the first time the two meet, Sven is gazing upon the carrot that is Olaf’s nose, and its obvious there shall be some mischievous connection between the two characters that are delightfully amusing especially Olaf who is voiced by Josh Gad and animated by Hyrum Osmond who both bought the character to life with a bouncy, fun interpretation of the hilarious but caring and sensitive snowman.
Despite Frozen having a smaller budget than Tangled, Frozen is one of Disney’s most creative animations of recent years with contemporary elements whilst still exhibiting the traditional Disney fairytale essence that has captivated audiences for years. It has beautiful animation enhanced by the 3-D and it also has a wonderfully beautiful story that is surely going to be a memorable one, along with Anna and Elsa who will surely be two memorable princesses in the line of Disney’s Princesses. Hopefully the modern twists that Disney added to Frozen will be something that will be revisited for future Disney animated films. The film has quickly made its way to become the 15th highest grossing animated film currently, and it’s entirely deserving. The Snow Queen, what has become Frozen, was surely worth the wait.