Frozen is Disney’s latest animated feature, that hit cinemas around last Christmas, and has quickly become part of popular culture. Now, I have to admit, when I first saw the trailer, I thought it looked like typical Disney fare, and I was rather put off by the jokey sidekick snowman, which I thought would probably only appeal to younger kids. I was also rather disappointed that they’d just done it in same animation style as Tangled, even though I had loved the look Tangled and its characters had. I guess I had kind of expected Disney to use a different animation design for its next film – was this style going to be their trademark design for every CGI film from now on?
However, that was until I came across the film’s song Let It Go – a rip roaring, want to sing it out loud, stuck in your head, show stopping sort of song that was so good, I had to see the whole film. I wasn’t disappointed – Frozen is a delightful and enjoyable family film, that manages to change up and challenge some of the old tropes.
Based loosely on the Snow Queen its main protagonists are two princesses called Elsa and Anna. Elsa has the ability to create snow and ice, a power she enjoys as a child until she accidentally hurts Anna. Afraid that her powers might become dangerous, her parents decide to keep her shut away, whilst Anna now with no memory of Elsa’s power, grows up with a distant sister and no one to play with.
Inevitability tragedy strikes, when their parents are killed. Elsa now must become queen, but on the day of the coronation things go wrong when Anna meets a prince, and thinking she’s in true love and agrees to marry him that night – much to Elsa’s horror. During the ensuing argument between them Elsa accidentally reveals her powers, and scared by people’s reactions flees into the mountains – leaving the kingdom in an eternal winter. Of course Anna immediately goes after her, acquiring help from a kooky ice deliverer, his reindeer and a snowman called Olaf along the way.
I really enjoyed this film for several reasons. First off, its main protagonists are two sisters who completely drive the story, and the film focuses more on them and the idea of family. Secondly, the queen in this movie is not a villain, as she so often is in other films and television shows – think Snow White, the Red Queen, Once Upon A Time and the original Snow Queen etc. In the fact that Elsa starts off as a princess and then takes on the responsibility of queen, without needing to marry anyone – surely a first in Disney history?
Both the women are great characters. Neither are perfect and have a distinct personality and motivations. Elsa is the responsible, sensible one, desperately hiding her true self, believing she is dangerous. Meanwhile Anna is more bubbly and optimistic and though more naive, her agreement to marry the first prince she meets is understandable, considering that she’s grown-up without anyone much for company and probably has been rather lonely.
That’s not to say the male cast aren’t great. Kristoff, an ice cutter who Anna hires to help her, is an odd but lovely guy. Whilst Olaf the snowman manages to pull off being genuinely sweet and rather funny, instead of annoying, forced or just plain redundant as some cute sidekicks can be.
Finally there are the songs, which are done in a Broadway musical style and are all pretty damn good. Let It Go is definitely the best, and will get stuck in your head, whilst my second favourite is Fixer Upper, an amusing song that reminds us that’s no-one’s perfect.
To top it all off, this is also the first film in Disney history to be directed by a woman, Jennifer Lee, who directs along with Chris Buck, and who incidentally also wrote the screenplay!
In summary Frozen is a refreshingly different princess story and a well-told family film.