When I first heard the storyline for Frozen, I’ll admit that I was a little surprised. We had all known that Disney was going to be creating a movie based off of the Hans Christian Anderson tale, The Snow Queen. I had been anticipating this to become a Disney movie for a long time, even before it was officially announced. This is a tale that I have grown up hearing, and it just always had that potential to be a Disney movie. I was just surprised that the frigid queen would be a protagonist in the plot.
For those of you who don’t know the original tale, The Snow Queen is a Danish story about two children: Kai and Gerda. The devil had created a magic mirror that only showed the negative things in the world, but he accidentally shattered it and a shard fell into Kai’s eye, completely changing his personality and making him angry and aggressive. The Snow Queen notices this, and takes him, making him forget Gerda and become even more hateful. Gerda (much like Anna) goes on a quest to save her friend. She (of course) ends up saving him, after traveling across the land and sneaking past the Queen, ultimately saving him by crying warm tears, which wash out the shard of glass.
This is an extremely watered down version of the tale for times sake, but to make a long story short, I always thought that this would be a great story for Disney to do. When I was little, we went to go see the play-version of this, and I remember sitting there, thinking quite vividly about how great it would be to see this on the big screen (well, at least until my sister threw up on me and we had to leave early, but that’s besides the point.)
But I had always thought that Gerda was a great character. She travelled across the lands to save her friend from continuing down a dark path. This is the girl rescuing the guy for once, and I while I have never had anything against Snow White or Cinderella, I just thought that this would be a nice change up.
Then I heard that Frozen would be about two sisters, one of them who was the Snow Queen, but was cursed to be so. At first, I was frustrated. Why fix what isn’t broken? I had known that if this ever would become a Disney movie that certain aspects would be included: Gerda would be a princess, there would be musical numbers, and Gerda and Kai’s friendship would be more romantic. I mean, let’s face it–this is Disney that we are talking about.
However, the more I thought about it, the more fond I became of the idea of two sisters. We of course, do not know the exact details of Frozen (well, most of us don’t) but we know the gist. Two sisters, one blessed/cursed with powers over snow (depending on how you view things) and the other going to save her, and teach her that she is more than her powers, and is truly a good person.
This is exactly like Kai and Gerda. Kai never meant to view the world darkly. He was forced to leave his friends due to the ice that was encasing his heart. Elsa leaves because of her powers, and her fear of what they could do to other people.
The Snow Queen can be a metaphor, for the coldness that can sometimes plague you. While Kai was abducted by the Snow Queen, we can presume that this is symbolic of how you can be led down dark paths sometimes. Elsa was in the same place; just in a very dark state of mind, trying to not let her powers take over. Anna/Gerda make it clear that you can find the light back in your life, you just sometimes need a friend to help show it to you.
Which brings me back to my main point. Why was this long-ago fairy-tale always meant to be a Disney movie (you know, besides the fact that Disney has a passion for adapting fairy-tales?)
I have stated before that I have found Olaf a little annoying, but he is right when he says that, “some people are worth melting for.” This is a common theme in both the original and today’s version of The Snow Queen that should be expressed more often in films.
2. Finding yourself
At some point, we face that inevitable question of who we are, and we need to discover that. Both Elsa and Kai struggle to come to terms with who they are, whether it is fighting a prophecy and trying to control themselves, or struggling with their inner psyches, they realize that they need to be strong, and allow others to help them every once in a while. Sometimes in life, you realize that you are your own worse enemy, fighting against yourself. Both Elsa and Kai prove though that you can do good, even if you ever do go to a dark place.
This might seem random, especially since I just handed you guys two meaty themes to chew on, but this story takes place in an extremely beautiful area. I just remember looking at my old storybook, filled with beautiful illustrations of snow, swirling and tumbling, and thinking, “Wow, I wish I could see this actually move…”
I have already scrapped the surface of this a little, but I thought that with the original story, it was so great to see the girl saving the boy. But now, I have grown to love the idea of a sister dichotomy, and learning that family comes first, and that you have to save them, no matter what path they fall down. Plus, this moves the focus away from the romance, which can now be side stories rather than the main focus (whoa, Disney, changing things up on us there!)
5. The Snow Queen
I had always imagined the Queen being like the White Witch from the Narnia series. Evil, and dark, and forcing other people to become as cold-hearted as herself. I always wanted to see a Disney-animated version of her, I had imagined a cold Maleficent-esque character parading around a icy castle. Now, there is no antagonist. Elsa is the Snow Queen, but her main purpose for leaving Anna is so she doesn’t hurt others. This is a much more original idea, and I praise Disney for it…
…which is exactly why this timeless classic is perfectly suited for Disney.
As you will learn later this Frozember, this has been a Disney movie years in the making. They kept waiting, but now they feel that it is ready. They didn’t rush things at all, but waited until they had the perfect story to suit this tale. They could have made it generic, or could have completely followed Anderson verbatim, but instead, they kept the original heart of the story, but changed it enough to make it original and unlike anything we had ever seen before.