The Snow Queen is a fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen, written in 1845, is a tale of good vs. evil as experienced by Kai and Gerda; a little boy and girl. Disney Studios have been trying adapt Anderson's The Snow Queen into a movie since Walt Disney's time but have never come up with a script they felt was viable.
Disney calls their 2013 Thanksgiving release of 'Frozen' a movie 'loosely' adapted from Andersen's The Snow Queen. In reality, even loosely adapted is stretching it. Readers of the original fairly tale will find very little in Frozen that relates to The Snow Queen. In fact... a character that can control snow and ice is the only item that appears in both stories.
However Disney made the right choice. Frozen, written by Jennifer Lee ( Wreck it Ralph ) and directed by Lee and Chris Buck ( Tarzan and Surf's Up ), has become a huge box office success, has already won a Golden Globe for Best Animated Movie, and has been nominated for two Oscars... Best Animated Movie and Best Song for 'Let It Go'.
During the early stages of the movie we are introduced to Princess Elsa (8) and Princess Anna (5) as children in the Kingdom of Arendelle. Elsa was born with the ability to manipulate snow and ice (Cryokinesis) and during a night of play she accidentally hurts Anna with her power. The King and Queen seek the help of from Trolls who cure Anna but remove the memories of her sisters powers. The trolls warn Elsa of the dangers of her power and the need for her to learn to control it. The King vows to shut the castle and isolate Elsa from everyone, including Anna, until she learns to control her power.
The rest of the 1st Act depicts several scenes of the Princesses' growing up with Anna imploring Elsa to 'open the door' and join her in play while Elsa only interacts with her parents trying to control her power. The act ends with the King and Queen dying at sea when Else is 18 years of age and finishes with a scene where Anna alone attends their funeral while Else sits alone in her room with her powers raging out of control.
3 years later it is coronation day... the castle gates are open. Princess Anna ventures outside and meets Prince Hans of the Southern Isles and the two fall in love. When the happy couple informs (now) Queen Elsa of their intention to marry, Elsa loses control and displays her power. Panicking and in fear, Queen Elsa flees to the North Mountain and accidently unleashes an eternal winter on the Kingdom as she flees.
Princess Anna enlists the help of ice harvester Kristoff and his reindeer Sven (and later the snowman Olaf) to take her to Elsa on the North Mountain where Anna hopes to convince Elsa to return to Arendelle and bring back summer. Once there Anna tries to convince Elsa to return but out of fear and stress accidentally strikes Anna again with her powers... this time in the heart.
As Elsa kicks Anna and Kristoff out of her ice palace they head to the trolls... who inform Anna that she will turn to solid ice unless she receives 'an act of true love'... the only way to thaw a 'frozen heart'. So Anna, Kristoff, and Olaf head back to Arendelle to find Prince Hans so Anna can receive a 'true loves kiss'. While Anna is visiting the trolls several of the towns people capture and imprison Elsa to try to force her to bring back summer.
The conclusion? It's a spoiler. However we will say that the love between two sisters is more important than the typical love between a Prince and Princess.
We do want to mention that Frozen is a musical. Much of the plot is conveyed through music. The 1st act is almost all songs and the 2nd act has a significant number of songs. The end of the movie however does not contain songs. Not only is this movie a musical... there is a 'Broadway' style to the songs.
Disney threw several plot twists at us in this movie.
As you have guessed... Prince Hans kiss did not save Princess Anna. In fact Hans turns out to be a minor villain... pretending to love Anna only to gain control of the kingdom. The line he utters: " Oh, Anna. If only there was someone out there who loved you." tends to produce gasps from the audience that are not aware of this plot twist.
Prince Hans leaves Anna locked in the room to die... and leaves to go kill Elsa which will leave him in control of Arendelle. Olaf finds Anna... and revels to her that Kristoff is actually her true love. As Olaf and Anna leave to find Kristoff who at that moment is heading towards the castle... Prince Hans is hunting Queen Elsa who had broken out of the dungeon.
So Kristoff finds Anna and their kiss saves her from freezing solid... right? No. As Ann starts to freeze, and Kristoff is in sight... we hear Han's pull his sword to kill Queen Elsa and see Anna make the choice... go to Hans and save herself or help Elsa.
Princess Anna jumps in front of Elsa to protect her and freezes solid... Hans sword hits Anna instead of Elsa and shatters... knocking him back.
Disney dragged the scene out... 30 seconds of silence as Anna is frozen and Elsa is sobbing. I truly at this point did not know how the movie would end. I was holding my breath.
However... it is a Disney movie. Anna sacrifice was the 'act of true love' and she thawed.
As is typical of Disney movies these days there is an epilog... Anna and Kristoff began a budding romance, Elsa's powers were accepted by the towns people... and Queen Elsa and Princess Anna rekindle the relationship they had as children.
Kristen Bell Anna (voice)
Idina Menzel Elsa (voice)
Jonathan Groff Kristoff (voice)
Josh Gad Olaf (voice)
Santino Fontana Hans (voice)
Directors: Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee
Writers: Jennifer Lee (screenplay)
Music: Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez
Disney has advertised that Frozen is Walt Disney Animation Studio's best animated film since The Lion King. We agree. In fact... we feel that this might be Disney's best animated film of all time. In between viewings of Frozen ( we've seen it 10 times so far ), we have re-watched all the modern classics: The Lion King, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, and The Little Mermaid. We feel Frozen is equal or is better than all of those films.
There are many reasons for this. You fall in love with the characters and root for them to succeed. Anna is an eternal optimist... always looking on the bright side of everything. Elsa is a troubled, complicated young woman. Many viewers can identify with her struggles at finding her place in life. Kristoff is a simple but solid and likeable character. Sven and Olaf... the 2 sidekicks are humorous and don't distract from the story... in fact Olaf is very important to the story.
In the past, animated films were directed towards children. These days animated films have to appeal to adults along with children. Frozen succeeds here. There is plenty of humor here... but unlike some movies it does not feel forced. A complaint of the movie is that some of the dialog does not fit the period of the movie. Wait...What? OK... maybe there are some. It doesn't bother us. We love the modern humor... we love the Arrested Development references... we love the cameos from other Disney Animated movies.
The music in Frozen is fantastic. The Lopez's (The Book of Mormon) did a great job of integrating the songs with the story. In several scenes the songs move the movie forward and tell the story. Their Oscar nominated 'Let It Go' was a catalyst in helping developing Elsa's character.
Animation... If you compare Frozen to Brave... Pixar's latest film... you can see that the Walt Disney Animation Studio's animation of characters is not quite there... but it is awfully close. However the snow and ice scenes in Frozen blow everything else away. Elsa's ice palace is amazing and the snow storms that appear in varyingly degrees of severity and their effects on the characters blow away any other snow and ice animated movie.
It is no surprise that Frozen is setting all kinds of box office records. It opened as the biggest Thanksgiving animated film opener. As of January 28th it is Disney's and Pixar's biggest non-sequel boxoffice grosser. It has a reasonable chance to make 400 million domestically and 1 billion world wide which is amazing for an animated film.
The most re-watchable movie I've ever seen. Not just compared to Disney movies... but all movies. I love the story, the characters and the music. While I'm not sure there is a story that can be turned into a sequel... I do hope we continue to see Anna and Elsa in future Disney endeavors.
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