Let it Go

Frozen is the Disney phenomenon that audiences just couldn’t let go. Not since The Lion King has a Disney movie become such an obsession that resonated with people regardless of age, nationality, or gender. Although Wreck-It Ralph came close, Frozen was the first Walt Disney Animation Studios film to win Best Animated Feature. It only took fifty-three movies, but the category wasn’t introduced until the Post-Renaissance. In a decade that belonged to Pixar. Frozen has the longest, most confusing history of any Disney production. Walt Disney himself wanted to adapt Hans Christian Andersen’s 1844 Danish fairy tale The Snow Queen before Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was even released. Envisioning it as an animated segment in an Andersen biopic. The story proved to be the most difficult fairy tale Disney ever attempted to adapt.

It was shelved many times over the decades, because they just couldn’t get the Snow Queen herself right. I knew practically nothing about The Snow Queen. Turns out it’s very complex. Dealing with religious aspects of good vs. evil with characters like Gerda, Kai, and a mysterious Snow Queen. Original drafts followed the story closely, just with a more Disneyfied spin, and traditional animation. It wasn’t until late 2000’s that director Chris Buck imagined something more relatable and subversive. While continuing to remain true to Disney tradition in a way that defined the Revival era. With John Lasseter’s encouragement, Jennifer Lee put her own perspective in the story and was even promoted to co-director. Frozen was such an unexpected hit that it became the highest grossing animated film at the time. With year long attention that never seemed to go away…

81. Frozen

Elsa lets it go

Frozen was actually something that I was a little hesitant about at first. Misleading teasers and comical trailers made me a bit nervous about its success. Along with a neutral title reminiscent of Tangled. Boy, was I off base. Like critics, Frozen was the closest thing to a Disney Renaissance movie I’d seen in years. I could tell watching it in theaters with my brother that it would turn into something special. Kids were singing along the moment we left the theater. Little did we know they’d be singing non-stop for the next couple of years. Although it’s easy to get tired of Frozen years later, I still love it anytime I watch it. And I have seen Frozen more times than any other Revival movie. Releasing Frozen at the end of November 2013, so close to Christmas was a genius way to keep it going. Of course Frozen wouldn’t be as big of a success if they didn’t make the changes they did at the last possible second. Not since Toy Story 2, has an animated production been cut so close without becoming a disaster.

Once upon a time there lived two sisters from the fictional Scandinavian kingdom Arendelle. The most game changing difference between The Snow Queen and Frozen was making the hero and villain sisters. Their way of making the titular character resonate better. The decision effectively altered the entire original story. Until only snow and the Queen remained in tact. Elsa is a Disney Princess born with magical ice powers. Anna is her sister and another Disney Princess who doesn’t have powers. Apart from the underappreciated Lilo & Stitch, Frozen is a rare Disney movie that tackles a sister dynamic. Another reason for its success since most people can relate to having a sibling. While playing with Elsa’s powers as children, Anna is accidentally struck. The King and Queen seek help from rock trolls that help alter Anna’s memory. A warning from the Troll King forces Elsa’s parents to take drastic actions. Keeping her powers hidden from Anna for the rest of their childhood.

When the King and Queen parish at sea, Elsa is crowned Queen for the first time in Disney history. Despite their immense popularity, both Princesses are so different that they haven’t even been officially inducted in the Disney Princess line up. Anna replaces Gerda as the main protagonist. Kristen Bell gave her a down to Earth personality with more relatable enthusiasm and a determination that makes her stand out. Anna is adorkable with light brown braids, a Rogue streak, and freckles. Her biggest need is overcoming her loneliness. Since Elsa shut her out, she’s willing to accept love from the first person she meets. Prince Hans of the Southern Isle turns out to be that guy. He’s a handsome standard Disney Prince who wins Anna’s heart in one day. When Elsa won’t bless the marriage, her powers are revealed to the whole kingdom who dub her a monster. Unlike the traditional Disney villain that she was envisioned as, Elsa evolved into a way more sympathetic character.

Elsa’s powers are a fear she needs to overcome and embrace. Turning Elsa into a beloved Princess and an instant icon. It was practically impossible not to see her snow white braid and icy blue dress. Elsa accidentally plunges Arendelle in eternal winter, but her actions are never outright villainous. Elsa’s powers are also very random. She can create snow, ice, an entire castle, a dress, and even a living snowman. Anna sets out to find Elsa and acquires a stylish blue & purple snowsuit at a quirky merchants shop. She also meets Kristoff and his reindeer companion Sven. Hans Kristoff Anna Sven, get it? Kristoff is a rugged blonde ice harvester who reluctantly gives Anna safe passage to see her sister. Jonathan Groff makes Kristoff a bit of a weirdo too with his habit of talking for Sven. Disney clichés start to unravel a bit when he questions Anna’s unrealistic decision to marry a guy she just met. While escaping hungry wolves and dangerous cliffs, it becomes more clear that they’re meant for eachother.

Since Frozen is winter themed with a reindeer companion, it only made sense for a snowman to be the wacky comedic Disney sidekick. Olaf the talking snowman was a major boost to Josh Gad’s career. His random thoughts/body mix ups are funny and never obnoxious since he genuinely cares about Anna’s well being. He’s just a bit absent-minded when it comes to heat. Anna finally reaches Elsa, but her out of control powers strike her in the heart. A giant snowman called Marshmallow throws them out and drives them away. Hans sets out to find Anna and the more villainous Duke of Weasel Town (Weselton) voiced by Alan Tudyk orders his men to take Elsa out when they find her. Elsa nearly crosses the line, but is captured instead. The effects of Elsa’s blast gives Anna a frozen heart that will consume her unless she finds an act of true love. Something she discovers from Kristoff’s adopted rock troll family. Who are frankly the only weak part of the movie. Kristoff cares about Anna enough to take her back to kiss Hans and hopefully break the curse.

SPOILER ALERT! Hans becomes another twist Disney villain when it’s revealed that he was just manipulating Anna the entire time. Planning to rule Arendelle since he’s 13th in line for his own throne. It’s unexpected and makes sense, but it does come out of nowhere in a somewhat cynical way. Hans always seems genuinely likable before that. Well with him as the antagonist, Kristoff becomes the true Disney Prince who turns back to be with Anna. Elsa tries to escape into a now out of control snow storm, but Hans convinces her that she killed her own sister. Anna frees herself with Olaf’s help, in time for Kristoff to find her. The second and most subversive twist comes when Anna chooses to save Elsa from Hans. Thawing her frozen heart, because family love is just as powerful as romantic love. The power of love enables Elsa to reverse the storm and keep Olaf from melting, while Anna punches out Hans. Although it wasn’t what saved the day, Anna & Kristoff become a cute couple anyway. Elsa is embraced by the kingdom, the gates remain open, and they all lived happily ever after.

Frozen pushed the boundaries of computer animation. Creating a magical winter wonderland that captured snow and ice so well you’d swear it was the real thing. It’s better they stuck with CGI. Since they were also able to give great detail to the movie’s culture. Norwegian architecture, clothing, and customs were studied in order to bring a new level of authenticity. Dresses in particular have so much fine detail in every stitch. Similar to Tangled, characters are once again meant to resemble classic hand drawn Disney characters. Managing to create two beautiful Disney Princesses that looked like siblings, but didn’t look exactly the same. Fortunately, Frozen has a spectacular soundtrack to go with its amazing animation. Years later, it’s still one of Disney’s all time greatest musicals. We have Winnie the Pooh songwriting couple Robert & Kristen Anderson-Lopez to thank for creating so many catchy instant hits. While Christophe Beck is who’s to thank for the opening Scandinavian choir.

Which leads to the underrated ice cutting song “Frozen Heart.” Followed by four Broadway caliber songs in a row. Granted it does sort of go downhill after that. Kristoff’s Reindeer song is quick and silly, Olaf’s “In Summer” is random, but likable, and the rock trolls’ “Fixer Upper” matchmaking song is kinda pointless. Young Anna’s “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” is an infectious way to explore childhood. “For the First Time in Forever” is my second favorite song and a triumphant longing song that shows the differences between siblings. The reprise is less spectacular, but still emotional. “Love is an Open Door” is a well oiled love song that takes on an unexpected meaning by the end. Of course the real star of Frozen is the power ballad “Let it Go.” A clear, easy to remember, emotionally resonate song that was made for Idina Menzel. It’s impossible to separate Menzel from Elsa or the song. Leading to an expected Oscar win for Best Original Song. Frozen may have overstayed its welcome, but I’m confident that it’ll thaw even the most frozen of hearts.

82. Frozen

Anna, Kristoff, and Sven meet Olaf

Followed by: Frozen II

7 thoughts on “Let it Go

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