Frozen

annaolafKristoffsven

With one of their previous animated features, Tangled, Disney successfully overcame the challenges of animating an abundance of hair realistically. Never ones to rest on their laurels, in Frozen they have boldly taken on another of the animator’s foes; Ice. Right from the opening frames, it is like an animation masterclass. This material that can be both reflective and transparent is so beautifully rendered, each surface ripple is mesmerizing. In one key scene involving the building of an ice castle, the frost crystallises so stunningly you’ll wish you’d brought along a scarf.

 Loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytale, ‘The Snow Queen’, Frozen follows two Sisters Anna and Elsa (voiced by Kristin Bell and Idina Menzel respectively) who are princesses in the Nordically based Kingdom of Arendelle. Elsa, heir to the throne, is gifted with powers that allow her to create ice and snow, producing indoor displays for her sister as children. When she accidentally injures Anna she is isolated from everyone for fear of hurting others. On the day of her coronation, unaccustomed to crowds, her powers are revealed despite her ‘conceal, don’t feel’ mantra and she flees the kingdom, plunging Arendelle into an eternal winter.

 Anna, poles apart from her sister, is also a delight. She is fiercely optimistic, loyal and yet relateably awkward, gives chase, determined to retrieve Elsa and bring back summer. She enlists the help of rugged ice-merchant Kristoff and his reindeer pal Sven who are soon joined by Olaf the snowman (created by Elsa), who is a whole lot more charming than the trailers would suggest. He provides not only laughs but one of the most ironic songs Disney have ever produced. ‘In summer’ follows his intense wish for summer to return, not quite being aware of the effect it will have on his frosty frame. The pace of the opening sequences is kept up on their journey, though I was left wanting more scenes with Elsa who is a much more enigmatic character. At times the greater focus on Anna rather than a more even balance seems misguided.

 Much more of a misunderstood figure than the cold-hearted villain from the original tale, Elsa displays a greater complexity than many previous princesses hell-bent on finding their prince. Being one of the first princesses to become a Queen, she also possesses a maturity that many of the previous ones (and her sister) lack. In turn, the rejection Anna feels from her sister’s self-exclusion also gives more depth and explanation to her yearning for love.

 The other songs are catchy and memorable, composed by  but the standout moment is the spectacular ’Let It Go’, belted out by Broadway legend Idina Menzel. It is a stunning sequence and a true triumph in terms of animation and character transformation, transitioning seamlessly from melancholy to a triumphant ballad with Elsa shedding her inhibitions and letting her power and femininity break free, ending with a self-confident shrug that will give you chills.

 With a feisty yet naïve princess and an elegant yet restricted Queen, there is a protagonist for everyone to relate to and the complex sisterly bond, something that Disney have rarely explored previously, refreshingly turns many of the standard Disney tropes on their heads and boldly subverts the traditional idea of true love and Prince Charming dashing to the rescue. There is romance of course but the men are left somewhat out in the cold in this tale, the girls have bigger things to worry about.

 With warmth, humour and bucket loads of heart, Frozen is another jewel Disney can add to their significantly embellished crown. It is pure family entertainment, guaranteed to thaw even the coldest of hearts.

 

Verdict:

****

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