Monday, May 5, 2014

So Guess Who Finally Saw Frozen

Margaret Tarrant

"Little Kay was blue, yes, almost black, with the cold. But he did not feel it, because the Snow Queen had kissed away his icy tremblings, and his heart itself had almost turned to ice.

He was shifting some sharp, flat, pieces of ice to and fro, trying to fit them into every possible pattern, for he wanted to make something with them...Kay was cleverly arranging his pieces in the game of ice cold reason. To him the patterns were highly remarkable and of the utmost importance, for the chip of glass in his eye made him see them that way. He arranged his pieces to spell out many words; but he could never find the way to make the one word he was so eager to form. The word was 'Eternity' ".

The birthday fairies struck early this year and gave me my own Frozen dvd so I have joined the ranks of people who did, in fact, like it :) I think I had enough rave reviews from most people, with some cooler reactions from readers here/other bloggers that they balanced each other out and I really had no idea what to expect. But I have heard plenty about it from students, listening to Disney songs on Pandora, and literally on multiple occasions I have walked outside and overheard little children singing "Let it Go." It's really crazy, how big this movie's gotten to the point where, as a teacher, I really was feeling like I should see it to be able to connect with my students about it, if no other reason. I don't remember any other Disney movie that was this big. And I retract what I had previously said about "Let it Go"-way more powerful in the movie with the animation and as part of the storyline.

And in a way I feel like the movie is so unlike "Snow Queen" it really doesn't deserve mention here. However, I liked how they challenged some of the most hotly debated Disney fairy tale stereotypes-namely the passive princesses, and love at first sight (But once again, like in Enchanted, after the whole "love at first sight isn't real," the other love interest is one they also knew for about a day. At least they didn't get engaged after 24 hours, they have learned that lesson.)
Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel standing by their doll counterparts

And as far as the idea that Disney versions of tales weed out the dark aspects of stories-(SPOILER ALERT for the five of you left on the planet who have yet to see it but plan to:) the scene where Anna is turned to ice to save her sister was really, deeply moving. You kind of know that, being Disney, she won't stay dead, but I'm pretty sure it would have been traumatizing if I'd seen it as a child. Maybe because it also reminded me of another cartoon where someone's head was frozen that horrified me:

(You can watch the first few seconds if you feel so inclined, I don't know what's up with the weird singing afterwards)

From the quotes at the beginning and end of this post, you can see little parallels, or perhaps nods, to Andersen's story, but it's clearly not a retelling. The different elements-shard in the eye/icy heart, snow queen and ice castle etc., don't relate to the right characters or have the same motivations or consequences. But the solution at the end-that love is what undoes the damage-(and what a much more accurate picture of love than kissing someone you barely know) did seem to bring it full circle, a little, back to "Snow Queen".
Edmund Dulac

"Then she [Gerda] saw Kay. She recognized him at once, and ran to throw her arms around him. She held him close and cried, "Kay, dearest little Kay! I've found you at last!"

But he sat still, and stiff, and cold. Gerda shed hot tears, and when they fell upon him they went straight to his heart. They melted the lump of ice and burned away the splinter of glass in it...Kay burst into tears. He cried so freely that the little piece of glass in his eye was washed right out. "Gerda!" He knew her, and cried out in his happiness, "My sweet little Gerda, where have you been so long? And where have I been?" He looked around him and said, "How cold it is here! How enormous and empty! He held fast to Gerda, who laughed until happy tears rolled down her cheeks. Their bliss was so heavenly that even the bits of glass danced about them and shared in their happiness."
Arthur Rackham


  1. I loved this film. Your right, not much of Andersen's story remains, but since not much remained of the fairy tales when Andersen got done with them I suppose changing his stories so much is acceptable. He mixed and matched a bunch of stories for this one, including a Polish tale about a girl who has the power to freeze anything. I like the Polish tale better, because the Queen in that saves the world from the Lord of the Underworld's invasion.

    1. Ooh-that's fascinating, I didn't know Andersen had based it off a Polish tale. What's the title? I'd love to read it.

      As I watched I was thinking that the supernatural powers really makes the story more of a fantasy along the lines of superheroes, than a fairy tale. Usually in fairy tales the characters themselves do not happen to have magical powers, but are aided by magical objects

    2. The closest I'm finding in my copy of Polish Folklore and Myth is "Snowdrop and Flame".

      Well, I'm glad you liked it. It just didn't do much for me. It might be because I didn't think any of the comedy parts in Frozen were funny. For me, that can really take something out of a movie.

    3. You know, I can see how you wouldn't be super into the humor. For me humor is definitely something that's contagious-hearing other people laugh makes me laugh too even if otherwise I would have stared at the screen with a blank face. At first I wasn't into Olaf, he seemed to be straying into Jar Jar Binks territory, but he grew on me. I also got tired of the whole "Anna is clumsy and therefore loveable and relatable!" thing...and this coming from seriously one of the clumsiest people on the planet...there's other ways to make characters endearing.

  2. I find it interesting that Disney's latest two animated princess movies -- Tangled and Frozen -- both have princesses in them who have powers of some sort. They gave Rapunzel the ability to heal (though that was somewhat in the fairy tale too, her tears healing his blindness, though I think it partially represented forgiveness for all he had brought upon her in making her pregnant), though they explained it better in Tangled then they do in Frozen. I think they may have had an explanation for it at one point, and hopefully they'll better explain it in the sequel when/if they make it.

    1. Huh, I hadn't thought about it, but that is interesting...but audiences do love a hero with superpowers. It's kind of unfortunate how every little girl I know is super into Elsa but Anna is the one who has the most courage and ends up being the hero. (One five year old I know was singing "Let it Go" one day and it happened to start snowing, and now she is half convinced that she has powers too...)

    2. Hmm...perhaps there's a trend with the newer Disney princess movies?

      I did think that there was a lot of unnecessary hype about "Let It Go" when I first heard it, but in the context of the movie it really works, and now I'm hooked. :) I'm thinking that the song is really what's making Elsa such a popular character--it makes her exceedingly relatable.

      Personally, though, my favorite song from the movie is "For the First Time In Forever," mainly because it screams "classic Disney" but also because it captures the two sisters' hopes and fears succinctly.

  3. Isn't it interesting how the way we experience a song can totally influence our opinions about it? There are other Disney songs I think stand great on their own but maybe that's just because I first saw them in the context of their movies?

    I did also like "For the First Time in Forever" (and find it very catchy!)-and you're right, the way the sisters' songs are layered is great musically, and in character/story development.

  4. I'm in agreement about the depiction of "true love" in this movie; it was very refreshing. I wish it had had more fairy tale-ishness in it, though!