I went to see Disney’s Frozen this weekend with my daughter. We both enjoyed the show, but I had mixed feelings. They’ve described it as “loosely based on ‘The Snow Queen’ by Hans Christian Anderson.” Let’s just say, if it’s based on “The Snow Queen,” it’s so loosely as to be almost 100% detached from the source material.
Things they changed from the original tale:
- All the characters names
- All the characters’ backgrounds and previous relationships
- Almost all the supporting characters are gone.
- The villain’s identity is changed.
- The person who saves the day is different.
- Pretty much the entire original plot is missing.
Things they kept from the original tale:
- There’s a Queen with snow and ice powers in it.
- And snow.
- And there’s a reindeer.
Please don’t take this as me saying I didn’t like the film. I really did.
In fact, there’s a lot to love about Frozen.
You’ll hear the word “stunning” used a lot in reviews of this movie. It’s entirely justified. From the opening cartoon, an eye-popping redux of a classic Mickey Mouse short, to the gorgeously-rendered setting, to the visual display of Elsa’s ice and snow powers, this movie looks amazing.
And behind all that eye candy is one of Disney’s best musical scores in years, maybe decades. The music was wonderful, particularly “Let It Go.”
Let’s face it, Idina Menzel could sing Phoebe Buffay’s “Smelly Cat” and make it sound epic. Give her a really good broadway-style tune, and she blows it out of the park.
The dialogue and voice acting on the whole was solid, even if the plot had some gaping holes. Kristin Bell is as winsome and goofy in animated form as she is in live action. In fact, Anna reminded me a lot of Greta, my own feisty interpretation of the character Gerda from the original story.
In fact, in this clip, I noticed a few things that weren’t in the original “Snow Queen,” but are in my steampunk retelling, “Bitter Cold.”
Things in Frozen that aren’t in “The Snow Queen” but are in “Bitter Cold”:
- Wolves chasing the main characters off a ravine. (Mine are steam powered mechanical wolves, but whatever.)
- Anna/Gerda/Greta is naive, and exercises somewhat poor judgment regarding romance.
- Anna/Gerda/Greta is impulsive, and people are justifiably scared she’ll set things on fire or do something that’ll get herself killed.
- Flying reindeer and sleigh. (Sort of. For a second there.)
- Anna calls Kristoff “Christopher” by mistake. That’s actually the name of my version of Kai. (Although everyone calls him Kit.)
Frozen is and isn’t a “true love story,” and I love that about it.
As the oldest of three sisters, I loved the emphasis on the sisterly relationship, above any romantic ones. How refreshing is it to hear a Disney movie, of all things, telling girls not to fall for the first guy who comes along, to be dubious about “love at first sight” and warning them to look at the actions of someone before declaring something “true love”?
Like Enchanted, Frozen does a good job of taking romantic love off its pedestal and looking at it with a bit of honest skepticism, without demonizing it or trying to deny the power and magic of real, sacrificial love.
Big fat, standing-ovation “Bravo!” from this mom of a teen and a little girl for that, Disney. Well done!
Frozen proves I am not the worst big sister of all time.
I may have convinced my youngest sister, Bobbi Jo, to stick her tongue to a cold metal object. Twice. (And really, I think we can all agree she bears some responsibility for that second time.)
I may have convinced my middle sister Jenny to hide under the bed because I spotted gypsies coming for her in the driveway. (And then conveniently forgotten I’d done so when she fell asleep there and my parents started a frantic neighborhood search.)
But at least I never nearly killed either of them with my out-of-control freezing powers and doomed our entire country to an eternal winter. So I’ve got that going for me.
All in all, I think Frozen is a great kids movie that stands on its own merits, even if it does owe less to Hans Christian Anderson than Rankin and Bass.
However, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that if you liked or loved Frozen, and would like to read another high-spirited tale of adventure and romance based on “The Snow Queen,” you can find my novella “Bitter Cold” in Once Upon a Clockwork Tale.
Like Frozen, it’s a rollicking, fast-paced adventure with a feisty heroine determined to save the world (and the man she loves) from being plunged into an eternal winter.
Here’s the description:
Childhood friends, Kit and Greta, live in an extraordinary place powered by alchemical magic and mechanical wonders. Just when life might offer him favors, Kit is captured by the Snow Queen, a ruthless industrialist, bent on developing her Eternity Engine. Greta must risk everything to save Kit. Can a stubborn young lady best the most powerful woman in the world, with a little alchemy, a lot of luck, and a clockwork reindeer?
Along with “Bitter Cold,” Once Upon a Clockwork Tale features three other imaginative steampunk stories based on the classic fairy tales “The Wild Swans,” “Hansel & Gretel,” and “Jack and the Beanstalk,” all from emerging, up and coming authors.
It might just make a perfect last-minute Christmas gift for someone who loves “happily ever after” tales.