How Frozen Warms the Heart

Casey H.

Staff Writer

Having peaked the monumental box office amount of $300 million in the United States and an even more impressive $655 million worldwide, Frozen has become yet another classic that Disney can add to its already large collection. With stunning animation, memorable characters, and some of the best music since time-honored movies such as Beauty and the Beast, it is no wonder why Frozen has been getting nominated left and right for awards such as Best Animated Picture (which it took home) and Best Original Song (which was lost to Ordinary Love in Mandela at the Golden Globes. With the same nominations at the Oscar’s, perhaps it is time to analyze the reasons for the movie’s claim to fame.

Based off the novel The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Anderson, Frozen (keeping its original title in some other countries) tells the story of the two princesses of Arendelle, a fictional land based off of Scandinavia. The elder sister, Elsa, was blessed with the ability to create and control ice at birth. After accidentally hurting her little sister, Anna, the king and queen decide to hide their daughter’s powers from everyone (including Anna) until further notice. “Until further notice” never comes, however, for the king and queen get into a ship wreck, leaving both their daughters confused on how their futures will turn out. Elsa, unable to keep her immense power under control any longer, accidentally freezes Arendelle on the day of her coronation, sending Anna on a quest with a socially awkward ice merchant named Kristof and his reindeer, Sven.

Aside from the familiar yet lovable plot, Disney has also gone back to its musical roots with its new holiday release. With veteran songwriting couple Kristen Andersen-Lopez and Robert Lopez (Winnie the Pooh and Finding Nemo: the Musical) as well as Christophe Beck at the head, Frozen’s songs have claimed the hearts of nearly every person who has gone to see the movie. Songs such as “Do You Want to Build a Snowman,” “Love Is an Open Door,” “In Summer,” and “Reindeer Are Better than People” have all been recognized for their fun melodies and funnier lyrics, all the while bearing similarities in style to the more traditional Disney styles of Alan Menken (Beauty and the Beast).

With the leads chosen by director Jennifer Lee (Wreck-It Ralph, Tangled), it is not surprising that almost every song in the movie was an instant success. Kristen Bell (When in Rome, Forgetting Sarah Marshall) snagged the lead as Anna, and the role includes the solos “For the First Time in Forever” as well as a number of duets. Jonathon Groff (Glee) gets a solo of his own as Kristof in the short but memorable “Reindeer Are Better than People,” Josh Gad (Love and Other Drugs) as Olaf the snowman also gets the stage to himself through “In Summer,” and Santino Fontana as Hans, Anna’s fiancée, shares a duet with Bell in “Love Is an Open Door.” Of all the actors and songs that Frozen can claim, Idina Menzel shines the brightest. Known for her role on Broadway’s Wicked as Elphaba, Menzel auditioned for Disney’s Tangled lead Rapunzel, only to get turned down for Megan Moore. That audition tape, however, was dug up for Frozen and landed her the role of Elsa. With only one song to call her own, Menzel claimed the hearts of all who were willing to hear her with “Let It Go,” which is quickly making a name for itself among the plethora of Disney classics. “Let It Go” has flown off of iTunes’ electronic shelves and was nominated for Best Original Song at the Golden Globes.

Considering the fact that the filmmakers and animators went all the way to Norway to study its environment, it is not surprising that the film is one of the most beautifully animated Disney films to date. Full of reindeer fur, docked ships in fjords, and raging snow storms, Frozen has the Scandinavian environment down to a T. What has astounded audiences the most, however, is the ice. Animators spent quite a while studying it, and their time is evident in the film, namely during the scene for “Let It Go.” Animation teams went to icy places such as Wyoming, Quebec, and Norway “to gain an inspirational natural look on ice, mountains, water, and other elements needed for the story.” Their hard work and travel bills paid off, since the building of Elsa’s ice castle as Menzel belts out her hit has dazzled people of every age in every nation.

Another reason that Frozen has met such success is due to its fresh messages, which are able to meld perfectly with classic Disney messages. Menzel says, “[Frozen is] a bit of a feminist movie for Disney. I’m really proud of that. It has everything, but it’s essentially about sisterhood.” Her statement is supported by the two strong female leads, as well as a twist on the “true love’s kiss” concept: instead of a handsome prince saving the princess, sisterly affection is what ultimately rescues the frozen kingdom of Arendelle (though, to Disney’s credit, the love interest does get a smooch in the end). Overall, the story is all about love saving others: a princess’ love being worth melting for, a man’s love causing him to dash back to his woman, a sister’s love motivating her to find her potentially dangerous sibling, and the potentially dangerous sister’s love being so strong that it can thaw a frozen heart.

It appears to be a consensus among all who have viewed the movie that Frozen is one of the best movies Disney has released since its glory days. Sophomore Francesca Oliverio says, “It’s awesome! Good story, original, has good twists. There’s a lot of good songs, especially Olaf’s and Elsa’s. It’s a must-see, especially for Disney fans.” With such raving reviews, it is hard to argue this point, and it is a safe bet that people of every age will enjoy the ironically heart-warming Frozen.

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