Disney’s latest animated film sees the studio take a trip back to the familiar world of fairy tales with Frozen, a coming of age story inspired by Hans Christian Anderson’s Snow Queen.
Frozen is a tale of two sisters who are princesses in the typically idyllic Kingdom of Arendelle. Anna (Kristen Bell) is the younger sister of Elsa (Idina Menzel), who is in line to become Queen. From an early age, Elsa has had magical powers that allow her to create snow and ice and as she grows older her powers become stronger. When playing one day she accidentally injures Anna, and her parents realise that Elsa’s powers are becoming too much for her to handle. They decide to keep her confined the castle, and separated from Anna, who loses her memory of her elder sister’s magical abilities. Elsa is taught to ‘conceal, not reveal’ and keeps her abilities a secret but after their parents tragic death, Elsa’s power becomes uncontrollable and she flees to the mountains to live in a palace made of ice, leaving Arendelle in a state of perpetual winter – cue Anna’s quest to find her sister and restore order.
So far, so formulaic, but the real thrill of Frozen lies in the way it manages to play with the conventions of traditional story structure, while at the same time adhering to it.This is no doubt down to the input of Jennifer Lee, who worked on the screenplay for Wreck-It Ralph, and who is credited for the story, screenplay, and direction of Frozen alongside Chris Buick, who had previously worked with Disney on The Little Mermaid and Pocahontas. This marriage of old school and new school gives Frozen its greatest successes, but also has a part to play in less sparkling moments.
Fittingly for a story about adolescence, Frozen is at times a little clunky and confused. An elongated first act with too many glitzy musical interludes radically shifts gear and adds plenty of laughs once Anna sets off on her quest up the mountain to find Elsa. As ever, incredible animation plays a huge role and the snow laden forests and intricate levels of the ice palace are stunning. The rocky start is quickly forgiven as once over that initial hurdle, the film thankfully remains massively entertaining to the end. And it’s the latter half of the film that will really cement Frozen as a classic, as it manages to gently and cleverly subvert the fairy tale genre. It’s still all about finding your true love, but not in the ways you might expect.
Published in Gazette Group titles (Swords Gazette, Malahide Gazette, Blanchardstown Gazette, Castleknock Gazette, Dundrum Gazette, Dun Laoghaire Gazette, Lucan Gazette, Clondalkin Gazette) on 28th Nov 2013.