Disney takes the traditional princess and gives it a much-needed modern twist, in this musical tale of love, snow and sisterhood. My review of Frozen is after the jump.
Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s 1845 fairy tale The Snow Queen, Frozen is set in a beautiful Scandinavian kingdom, Arendelle. The picturesque location appears perfect, but within the castle walls hides Princess Elsa (voiced by Idina Menzel), who has the incredible ability to turn anything she touches to ice. Frightened that her powers could cause harm, her parents confine her to the castle and teach her to “conceal, not feel”. Elsa’s younger sister Anna (voiced by Kristen Bell), is a vivacious redhead who doesn’t understand why her sister hides, even from her. One day tragedy strikes when the King and Queen are killed at sea, leaving the two princesses orphaned. A few years on once Elsa comes of age, she is forced to take the throne and become Queen of Arendelle. The stress of having to come out in the public again sets off her powers and Elsa mistakenly throws Arendelle into an eternal winter, fleeing to the mountains to hide and protect the people from her powers. Anna, who was so excited at people finally being allowed into their lives, chases after her sister, while the people of Arendelle shiver.
Following on from last year’s Brave, Frozen also takes the traditional princess tale and gives it an update. With Brave we had the power of a mother-daughter relationship, while Frozen explores the love and power of sisterhood. As a young child, Anna was devastated when she was suddenly no longer allowed to play with Elsa; but as the King & Queen kept Elsa’s secret from everyone (including Anna), she didn’t understand why the person she loves the most wasn’t able spend time with her. Despite learning of Elsa’s powers with everyone else, Anna’s love for her sister does not falter. She remembers the little girl who loved her with all her heart, and believes her sister would never hurt anyone intentionally. Anna chases her sister into the mountains without thought for her own safety. While there are dashing princes and handsome men in Frozen, it is the love between sisters which propels the film, not the heroism of male characters.
Idina Menzel was perfectly cast as Elsa and her songs steal the film. “Let it Go” is both an inspirational and a powerful song, while also being an extremely important point in the film. Elsa has kept her true self hidden for so long, and the moment she releases and celebrates who she is for the first time is quite simply, joyful. The film celebrates people for who they are, and shuns those who judge. Josh Gad is fantastical as Olaf, the comical relief that the film needs. Much like Steve the monkey in the Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs films, Olaf is the amusing, yet loyal sidekick who provides both humour and heart. I also thoroughly enjoyed Jonathan Groff as the down-to-earth and big-hearted Kristoff – such a genuine character who you couldn’t help loving and rooting for.
The beautifully animated and wonderfully bought-to-life Arendelle is a delight to explore and experience at the cinema. With Elsa and Anna, Disney have updated their princesses to be plucky, steadfast and strong. The strength of the sister’s love was enduring and is what ultimately makes Frozen an absolute delight.
By Sam McCosh
Director: Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee
Writer(s): Jennifer Lee (screenplay)
Starring: Kristen Bell, Josh Gad, Idina Menzel, Santino Fontana
Runtime: 101 minutes
Release date(s): Australia & New Zealand: December 26 2013