Alright, so technically there are no real spoilers in this since I don’t really talk about what happens, but since the marketing for this movie was terrible, the simple fact that I talk about what the movie really is compared to the trailers ends up being a spoiler in itself.
Was that clear at all? Anyway, if you don’t wanna get spoiled, go see Frozen before you read this.
I was ready to hate this movie.
I’m not kidding. The very first time I heard about Frozen was several months ago. At that time, all I knew was that it was going to be an adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen. Oh, the fury.
The Snow Queen is my favourite fairy tale ever, period. I’ve read it countless times and even if the last time I read it was years ago, I still know it almost by heart. It is the story of a little girl that goes to rescue her friend from the snow queen, said snow queen being not really evil but lonely and not preoccupied by what mortals may think. Gerda (the girl) did not especially have a lot of personality, but she was sweet and brave and she lived a handful of really fascinating adventures to save Kai (the friend).
Honestly, this story sometimes asks you to stretch your suspension of disbelief more than it should, but it stays one of my childhood favourites, because there were a lot of interesting female characters in there and for once, the girl got to save the guy, even if it was just by crying on his chest. Also there was a little girl/gypsy/thief that slept with a knife and thought Gerda was her personal toy. I’ve always loved little psychopaths. But I digress.
When I saw what Frozen was actually going to be about, I told everybody who wanted to hear it that I was going to boycott this atrocity of an adaptation and that I definitely hated Disney forever for tearing apart a masterpiece.
Of course, Disney never had a reputation for making good adaptations, this for at least two reasons: one, Disney has always been very formulaic: in almost every single Disney classic I grew up with, especially the famous “Disney Princess” ones, there was always a girl falling in love with a boy for X reason, fighting again X injustice done to her/him/them (but not too much) and getting married in the end, the only exceptions being Jasmine and Aurora who were always absolutely useless. Secondly, Disney’s main target is families, which means that a lot of kids get to see their movies.
Just to take an example, see The Little Mermaid (I won’t go into Pocahontas territory, I’m not suicidal). In the original fairy tale, the Little Mermaid dies in the end because the guy she loves is a douchebag who doesn’t care about her, even though she ruined her own life to be with him. Yeah. I mean, Disney traumatized a lot of kids, no need to add a dead half-fish person on top of that.
So I thought about it and I decided that maybe I was going to give Frozena chance because adaptation is hard, especially when your original story is just about a little girl talking to several random weirdos and saving her friend by crying on him.
Then came the trailers. I don’t want to spoil this movie, but I feel like I have to tell you the truth here. The marketing campaign for this movie was disastrous. Remember how the teasers centered on Anna, Kristoff, Sven the reindeer and Olaf, where Olaf seems like that wanna-be Dreamworks comic-relief/punchline machine? Those were only scenes from the second act. From the first half of the second act, to be specific. Not exactly representative of the movie.
The actual movie centers around the relationship between Anna and Elsa, who was born with magical powers that allow her to freeze shit. Kristoff? He’s there pretty much from the beginning but Anna only meets him around the beginning of the second act. Olaf is still a punchline machine and gets a few annoying lines but honestly, the story behind his coming to life is really sweet. He even has a couple of jokes that are surprisingly dark for that kind of character.
I’m not going to hide it until the end of this article. I loved Frozen. I still have my issues with it though. For example, I still don’t like that it claims to be adapted from The Snow Queen, even loosely, some of the conflicts in there are resolved way too easily and some of the twists may be simply hated by some people, even if I can justify, and also approve of each and every one of them. The climax could have been a bit stronger. Also, one of the songs simply did not do it for me. I know Disney is not a master of subtlety, but there are limits.
However, the problems I have with Frozen seem really minor compared to the mountain of awesome things in there. I loved the characters, I loved the themes and… yes, I even loved most of the songs! The last time I came out of a Disney classic singing the movie’s tunes goes back to Tarzan. And I’m not even sure Tarzan counts because all the songs were sung by the same guy. So let’s say Mulan. I was eight. I’m twenty-three. Do the math.
More than the songs, however, more than even the characters, what really made me happy about this movie is the new direction Disney seems to be taking with it. First of all, if Anna is a princess, it is actually for a reason. Her sister Elsa is the queen. I know it’s a detail, but I can’t say how happy I am that for once, a girl doesn’t just get to be a “pwincess” because the word princess evokes cuteness and harmlessness, especially since Elsa is the co-protagonist of the movie.
Also, Disney found how to have several levels of interpretation again. Yes. The child in me could see everything that would have amazed me and make my parents sick of hearing about every single awesome moment of the movie. The -mostly- adult me saw every statement this movie was making and I am currently making everybody around want to kill me just so I stop talking about it. While giving children their fix of humour and action, they also gave teenagers and adults (and people in-between, like me) something more to love about their movie. For once, a Disney Princess movie is not -only- about finding true love. It’s a movie about what love can be and what it can make you do. And if you think Tangled and Brave tackled that, I’ll answer that Tangled, in the end, it was really just about true love… and hair. Brave was probably about apologizing to your mom if you ever turn her into a bear someday… and also hair.
What happens in the third act, I think, will divide the audience between those who will love it or just really, really hate it. Obviously, I’m on the side of those who loved what happened. Without saying that it was bold, it certainly showed an interesting evolution.
Damn, this movie has made me incredibly happy and hopeful. Disney’s still got it, guys. I’m not sure what it means for the future but I’m certainly curious to find out.
PS: Frozen is the second animated holiday movie I’ve seen in two years where the snow seems to be a metaphor for something else. Although to be fair, it was probably unintentional in Rise Of The Guardians. But here, it’s kind of really obvious and I’d be curious to know what people thought about it.