If you’ve been following any of the hype for Disney’s latest animated feature, Frozen, then you’ve probably seen some of the comparisons people are making to Tangled. On the film’s Facebook page there are numerous peoples commenting “Is that Rapunzel?” or “She looks exactly like Rapunzel.” Honestly, these comparisons are a little silly. So, do Anna and Elsa look like Rapunzel? Is Frozen just “Tangled on Ice”? We can only compare the two based on what we’ve seen of Frozen so far, but I feel like there’s enough material to go off of. Let’s take a look at some of these comparisons and see if they have any merit.
Disney has a distinguishable style for their female animated characters: big eyes, thin lips, and a small nose. It seems like Ariel from The Little Mermaid started this “Disney look,” and it has continued since then. The most notable comparison here is Rapunzel and Anna. They both have those Disney facial features that are typical of a Disney Princess. Do they look similar? Sure. But they also look different enough that you can tell that it’s a different character. For instance, Anna’s eyes are slightly more upturned, her cheeks are a bit fuller, and her face is generally rounder. Rapunzel, on the other hand, has a more pointed chin, bigger and more rounded eyes, and a more pronounced nose.
There are also smaller details that differentiate the two characters. Anna has more freckles than Rapunzel, and even has them on her shoulders. Granted, we never saw Rapunzel’s shoulders, but the point is still there. You can also notice Anna’s eyebrows wrinkling when they move, most notably in the “Party Is Over” clip you can find here. She also has prevalent neck muscles that appear when they speak. I never saw these details on the character models in Tangled. For the most part, Rapunzel’s skin looked a little plastic and unrealistic; it’s only when you get a real closeup that you can see some of the finer details like freckles. There’s no need for closeups to see the details on Anna’s character model, even just judging by a minute-long clip. When I heard my friend tell me that the Disney animators used Rapunzel’s model for Anna and Elsa, I died a little bit inside.
The world of Frozen differs greatly from Tangled, with its mountainous surroundings contrasting with the hilly environment of the 2010 film. The color scheme of Frozen is also different–from the cool blue hues of the snow and ice versus Tangled’s warm and lush, green landscape. Anna’s deep fuchsia cape is accented by decorative tulips on her dress, which varies in color greatly from Rapunzel’s pink/purple dress, lightly accented with decorative swirls and stripes.
Overall, I would say the animation is quite similar in style to Tangled. Perhaps this was done purposely to make the film appear recognizable, so viewers could see a trailer and instantly know that it was a Disney film. Similar to how Disney’s princesses all have that certain look to them, Disney’s animated fairy tales of the 90s all had a recognizable animation style (that others tried to replicate, e.g., Anastasia). Disney could be attempting something similar with their CG fairy tales — make them look similar to evoke that “Disney” feeling in their viewers.
We have heard very little of the music in Frozen, our biggest taste being of Idina Menzel’s power balled, “Let It Go.” However, it’s easy to tell that the music is headed in a much more Broadway-influenced direction. The film’s songwriters are Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, a pair who are most well-known for their work on Broadway hits The Book of Mormon and Avenue Q. While these are both very adult-orientated shows, the two have also worked on the 2011 Disney animated film, Winnie The Pooh. What we’ve heard of the music in Frozen are songs that sound like they came straight off the Great White Way (trying to facilitate the jump from film to Broadway, are you Disney?). It should also be noted that everyone in the main cast of Frozen has been on Broadway at some point in their lives.
The music sounds so much different from anything in Tangled–the closest we got to Broadway was “Mother Knows Best,” if only because Broadway star Donna Murphy was the powerhouse vocalist for that song. Alan Menken and Glenn Slater took a much different approach to Tangled as compared to previous Disney musical efforts. Menken tried to create a mixture of medieval music, 1960s folk rock, and a classic Disney feel for the film. When all is said and done, the music of Tangled was not all that memorable. Heck, I’ve heard a little over a minute of “Let It Go” from D23 (and what Chelsea sang for us), and I find myself humming, singing, and thinking about it constantly. That’s saying a lot for a film that hasn’t even been released yet.
This is probably the biggest aspect of the film that has been compared to Tangled. It all began when we found out the name had been changed from The Snow Queen to Frozen. Suddenly, we all had flashbacks of Rapunzel being changed to Tangled in an attempt to lure in more boys to see what most would consider a “Disney Princess movie.” Then the first teaser came along with Olaf and Sven. ”Why is that reindeer acting like a dog? They already did that with Maximus!” (Hint: reindeer actually do pant like dogs.) The comparisons increased when the first “real” trailer was released, which showed us the comedy (namely, Olaf) almost exclusively, and never showed us Elsa, the character who is the sole reason the entire film exists.
A look on the film’s Facebook page at that time would have shown you pictures of Olaf, Sven, Kristoff, and occasionally Anna. But where was Elsa? The same thing happened in Tangled’s promotional material: hide the princess, show the male lead doing some action-y stuff, and pray that no one found out that it was a musical until they had already purchased their ticket and contributed to the box office sales. Tangled ended up being a huge success, taking in $200 million in the US box office. Was it because of the marketing, or did people really enjoy the movie and spread the word to friends and family to go see it? We can’t be sure, but whatever Disney did, it worked.
Interestingly enough, while Frozen followed this marketing formula for a while, Disney recently turned it around on us and gave us a the trailer we all wanted: the “Elsa trailer.” It showed the reason for the plot, the adventure, a bit of comedy, and MUSIC. In these last weeks leading up to Frozen, Disney doesn’t seem to care if their audience sees that their latest film is a musical and focuses on two princesses. Maybe they’re using the old “bait and switch” tactic–they’ve already hooked their core audience with funny gags and ridiculous jokes, but now they’re showing the film’s true colors. All that’s left is to see if Frozen can live up to the success that Tangled brought to Disney, and I have a feeling it will.