Written by Fourth Estate Lifestyle Reporter Andrew Davis
Since its release in late 2013, “Frozen” has encountered critical and financial success. The film has currently garnered over $1 billion dollars worldwide and collected two Academy awards for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song. It has also been a hit with audiences who have been providing covers of the film’s soundtrack on YouTube and “cosplaying” (dressing up as certain characters for different events, like Comic Con) as the various characters.
It makes one wonder why a film whose trailers seemed to focus on comic relief characters such as Olaf the snowman would gain this much critical appraise. Well, the magic behind “Frozen” does not rely on these cute characters as the trailers would suggest. Instead, it focuses on a smart script that turns stereotypical Disney genres on their head and an inspired soundtrack worthy of Disney’s proud musical tradition.
“Frozen” tells the tale of Elsa (Idina Menzel), a girl with the power to create ice and snow, and Anna (Kristen Bell), Elsa’s younger, happy-go-lucky sister. One night, Elsa accidentally injures Anna with her powers, causing her to shut Anna out of her life in fear of harming her again.
Years go by, and Elsa is about to be coroneted as the new queen of Arendelle, the kingdom in which the two sisters grew up. While celebrating the occasion, the doors to the castle are opened for the first time in years, much to the delight of Anna. Cheers fall on Elsa as she is coroneted, but not for long. As the night progresses, Elsa accidentally reveals her true power, leading her to run away in fear of being harmed by the villagers. As she leaves, she unleashes a devastating winter, freezing Arendelle over. Anna then sets out to find her sister, travelling through the cold mountains to bring back summer and rekindle her relationship with her sister.
The writers earn their keep by taking well-known Disney princess stories—their princess story of choice comes from the years before the 1950s, where princesses such as Snow White and Cinderella would wait for their prince to come and save them from danger—and turn them upside down.
The most notable meme flip comes in the form of what “true love” can mean. The writers choose to focus on Anna because of her romantic nature, yearning to find her true love quickly. She even falls for the first man she meets on Coronation Day, Prince Hans (Santino Fontana).
By setting up this trait that was common to Disney films during their time (such as Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, both receiving a kiss from a prince to wake them from a spell), the writers can then begin experimenting with what is not so common and create a different way to end this kind of story. What is shown on screen is a final act filled with twists that neither the audience nor Anna will see coming. It is playing with these expectations that allows “Frozen” to push boundaries that have not been reached before, creating an original story.
Other than the writing, the soundtrack soars, with critics singling “Let It Go” as the best of the set. It is quite easy to see what they mean. After all, it has a catchy beat and an uplifting message of independence. However, why is this the song that stands out to most people when there are so many to choose from? Most likely, it is because people can relate to Elsa’s character change which is the song’s focus. As Elsa discovers who she really is and expresses her joy due to her newfound freedom through song, people might see themselves in Elsa, remembering the time they found out who they were in the world and how joyous the feeling was to them.
“Frozen” is an addition to Disney that should not be missed. With a combination of an intelligent and somewhat-meta screenplay as well as an inspiring and uplifting soundtrack, this is a film that is smart enough to know where it comes from yet also has the strength to push us in new directions while still melting our hearts.
If you would like to see this new addition to Disney, stop by the JC Cinema on March 20th at 9 p.m., March 21st at 6 and 9 p.m., and March 22nd at 6 p.m.
(Photo by Amy Rose)