By Christina Cannady | Photographer
Golden Globe and Oscar winner, Disney’s “Frozen” tells a different kind of story than many other Disney princess movies. With round character dynamics and an award-winning soundtrack, “Frozen” was an instant classic upon its release in 2013.
Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen,” “Frozen” follows the story of Elsa, a soon-to-be queen with magical ice powers. After accidentally striking her sister Anna’s head with ice, Elsa must learn to conceal her powers in order to protect those around her. Instead of embracing it and learning to love and control her powers, she grows afraid of them and tries everything to hide it.
Elsa was originally written to be a villain to align more closely with the Hans Christian Anderson tale. However, the narrative changed after the legendary song “Let it Go” was written and added to the movie. This song is Elsa’s power ballad where she learns that her powers make her who she is and prove that she is not a monster but a magical, icy hero that the kingdom of Arendelle needs.
Available on Disney+, this three-and-a-half-minute video is a “Frozen extra” showing the process of how “Frozen” was made. Written and composed by the husband-and-wife songwriting team, Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez wrote “Let it Go” in less than two days. Also interviewed in the video, director and screenwriter Jennifer Lee said, “Oh God, I have to write the entire movie again,” after hearing the song. It changed the trajectory of the film and shaped Elsa into the emotional, vulnerable but powerful woman she is.
What makes “Frozen” stand apart from other Disney classics is that the passion in the story is among family rather than lovers. Sisters Elsa and Anna undergo hardship after their parents’ death, then Anna had to grow up by herself because Elsa shut her out. The end of “Frozen” teaches us that “true love” is not a narrow construct.
“Frozen” was a box office hit earning $1.28 billion globally, making it the highest grossing animated film of all time. That was until six years later with the release of “Frozen II” in 2019 which took the place of highest grossing animated film all time earning $1.45 billion at the global box office.
“Frozen” had become a widely-known household name, and “Frozen II” is the next chapter of the beloved characters in the Arendelle universe. Oftentimes sequels can be hit or miss, but in “Frozen II”, the stakes were raised and there was just as much, if not more, heart and soul in the film.
Unlike other sequels, “Frozen II” felt like a continuation of the first film. It picks up where the first movie resolved but aims to answer the big unanswered question of the first film. Why does Elsa have powers? Instead of trying to add new elements, “Frozen II” dives further into the storyline and character development of the first film. We see the characters change and grow more into themselves.
Some people were shocked after seeing “Frozen II” because of the surprisingly adult themes. The kind that deal with change, growing older, loss and grievance. Songs like “The Next Right Thing,” sung by Anna in the film, showcase those emotions through the musical storytelling that Frozen does so well.
Also available on Disney+, “Into the Unknown: The Making of Frozen II” is a documentary series that goes behind the scenes of the development of the film. Episode 3 specifically includes the song and scene making process of “The Next Right Thing.” The lyrics from the song, “You are lost, hope is gone, but you must go on and do the next right thing,” embody how only you can control what you do next, even when the world seems to be conspiring against you.
Perhaps contributing to the success of “Frozen” is the attachment and love for the characters. Elsa and Anna both go on self-discovery journeys that may seem relatable to many.
“We built these characters from sitting in rooms sharing our own personal journeys. We built them from this very deep emotional place,” Lee said in the episode.
Some people may have dismissed “Frozen II” when it premiered because of the negative stigma attached to “Frozen” that it was annoying or childish. It became “overrated” when people started to see “Frozen” everywhere they looked, but it’s just business. When something a company puts out is successful, they’re going to capitalize on it.
Isn’t it good though to have a film that so many children and adults alike can look up to? A film with relatable, memorable and humorous characters; a film with stunning animation and special effects; a film with legendary and beautiful music; a film with timeless lessons that are relevant to real struggles.
“Frozen” and “Frozen II” are among Disney’s best. They will be just as familiar and classic as films like “Cinderella” or “The Lion King” as they age. Next time you hear about “Frozen,” don’t be so quick to dismiss the notion of it being a quality film.