Frozen: First Impression

In early February, Disney released the posters to their upcoming feature, Frozen.  Like most girls of my generation, I grew up with the princesses of the Disney Golden Age and Renaissance and so I can’t help but get excited at the prospect of having a new princess movie to go see.  That stated, after viewing the posters and reading what little information there is on the premise, I am not hopeful for this film.

Frozen is supposed to be an adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen yet the two premises have next to nothing in common.  Andersen’s story is about a little girl named Gerda who embarks on a journey to save her friend, Kai, who has been kidnapped by the Snow Queen.  According to Disney, Frozen will be about a young woman named Anna (Kristen Bell) who joins forces with mountain man, Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), his reindeer, Sven, and a goofy snowman named Olaf (Josh Gad) to defeat Anna’s sister, Elsa, aka the Snow Queen (Idina Menzel), whose magic has cursed the land with eternal winter.  The plot seems solid enough in its own right (without a trailer it’s hard to form much of an opinion) but I just don’t understand why Disney insists on toting Frozen as an adaption of Andersen’s fairy tale when the two stories share nothing but a Snow Queen.  Yes, yes, Disney is notorious for its loose adaptations, but at least Bambi, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and even Tangled used the character’s names and some of the motifs from the original works.   Additionally, the inclusion of an animal companion and silly sidekick suggests that Frozen won’t be straying far from the standard Disney character tropes we all know and are supposed to love.

One positive note I have for Frozen‘s plot is that its heroine does seem to be self-determined and motivated by an objective other than romance (though Anna and Kristoff’s relationship is so predictable I can already hear Bell and Groff’s love duet).  I can’t quite call this progressive since hobbies and spines are two things that Disney has been stamping onto their heroines since the feminist backlash against The Little Mermaid in 1989.  Still, I appreciate strong female characters wherever I can find them.

rapunzelanna

Frozen‘s promotional posters and concept art provide some insight into how the film will look,which leads to my greatest concern for this movie: its painfully generic aesthetic.   By all appearances, Frozen might as well be titled Tangled 2: A Very Tangled Christmas.   Princess Anna might as well be Rapunzel’s blue-eyed twin, with the wide-eyed smile and blonde hair and identical facial dimensions.  It’s as if the financial failure of The Princess and the Frog scared Disney from writing non-caucasian heroines so badly they can’t bring themselvesfrozenannakristoff to stray from the teutonic extremes of straight blonde hair and blue eyes.  They couldn’t even take a note from Pixar and give their white heroine curly, ginger hair.  Furthermore, based on the concept art, Anna’s dynamic with Kristoff is going to be more or less that of Rapunzel and Flynn: the spunky, naive Barbie and the reluctant, lower-class hunk.

I do appreciate that Frozen seems to incorporate Scandinavian designs into its costumes and, hopefully, its architecture.  This will at least give the movie a distinct “look,” as opposed to Tangled‘s vaguely medieval western-European aesthetic.  I also appreciate that the villain, Elsa, isn’t stereotypically dark-haired or clad in black.  I realize that she is the snow queen but that didn’t stop BBC from giving their White Witch black hair and grey skin.  I look forward to the day that Disney announces plans to write their first goth princess but until then, I’ll settle for villains dressed in white.

I’m certainly looking forward to Frozen, if only to appease my inner five-year old, but from a critical standpoint Frozen may be further proof that Disney has unofficially declared creative bankruptcy.

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13 responses to “Frozen: First Impression

  1. Anna? Isn’t there already a princess named Tiana? why would Disney make the names so similar???

    • I hadn’t considered that. I suppose the names are somewhat similar. What struck me was how common the name is. The disney princesses hitherto have all had fairly unusual names. Ariel, Jasmine and even Belle aren’t terribly common. I suppose Anna is “prettier” than Gerda but I would have vouched for Gerda in fidelity to Hans Christian Anderson.

  2. Princeess and the Frog wasnt a financial failure. It was both critical and financially successful. Please research that better next time

    • Fair enough. It would have been better if I had said “the relative financial failure” because, yes, The Princess and the Frog did make money. But not as much as Disney was hoping it would. It didn’t make as much money as any of the Disney renaissance films whereas Tangled is currently the second highest grossing Disney film worldwide and the fourth highest grossing Disney film in North America.

  3. Also, watching the recent trailer, another Hair power? (Looking at when Anna is talking to a melting Olaf) Real original. Let’s hope it exceeds expectations!

  4. Pingback: Concern Over Disney’s New Princess | AMS10 Fall 2013 -- Wednesday·

  5. I think all of you are wrong about everything! Frozen is going to be a success and another wonderful Disney movie, I hope you all get a life someday. I was trying to find Frozen Spoilers and I wasted the last ten minutes of my life reading this junk! I am not supporting you 😛

  6. Looking back at this post after the film has actually been released, I love how far off this is. Elsa isn’t a villain, she is a fantastically complex deuteragonist. The story does not focus on the romance, it focuses on the strained, yet loving relationship of sisters Anna and Elsa. The backgrounds are gorgeous and the overall animation is fantastic.

  7. I recently watched this movie, and it was fantastic. The facial similarities between Anna and Rapunzel are close, but after watching the movie it’s easily over looked due to their completely different personalities. Rapunzel was quite naive, but she had never left her tower, so although somewhat cliched, it was understandable. Anna was very self motivated, and the love story between her and Kristoff is predictable, but is more of a subplot than the actual storyline, like in Tangled. Anna and her sister’s relationship is the main focus of the story, so it is completely different to Tangled.

    And on a final note the movie was influenced by The Snow Queen, and not based on, hence the completely differing story lines. I think Disney claimed the movie was an adaptation due to the fact that it makes it easier not to give anything away but still gives a satisfactory amount of information, so when watching the movie (I was expecting something closer to the original story) I was surprised by how amazingly different it was, and I think I enjoyed the unpredictability of it more.

  8. Pingback: Frozen and the Disney Princess | Ponderings of a Cinephile·

  9. This movie had it’s beginning back in the 50s and had been in development hell off and on ever since. I too was taken by surprise by many of it’s non traditional takes and that it was so well done. It did have echos of Tangled, but not as much as I thought it would. And “Let it Go” has become my favorite song for now.

  10. As for the comments on the facial similarities between Anna and Rapunzel, if you watch closely during the coronation reception at the castle, you see both Eugene (Flynn) and Rapunzel. Also there is fan speculation that the trip that Anna and Elsa’s parents were killed on was the trip to Flynn and Rapunzel’s wedding celebration.

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