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Frozen: Girlie And Great

Disney’s Frozen is one of a few movies I had to see a couple of times before I got it. I am not a fan of musicals, didn’t care for its visual look, and found it too girlie. After all, Frozen has two young heroines and lots of lilac, lavendar and periwinkle.

Given that it became the most successful animated film ever, I felt compelled to give Frozen another chance. So I watched it with the script in hand. Soon it became obvious that I had missed something. This time around, I was blown away by its refreshing visual splendour, intelligence and genuinely moving storyline.

Walt Disney first tried to adapt H.C. Andersen’s The Snow Queen for the screen in 1937. It took John Lasseter – of Pixar fame – to come around and guide it to success as an Executive Producer.

This only happened in 2012, shortly after Pixar’s purchase by Disney.

Box Office Queen

The back story of Disney’s attempts to get this one to the screen is riveting. Finally, 75 years after Walt’s first attempt, Lasseter teamed producer Peter Del Vecho with Tarzan director Chris Buck and writer/co-director Jennifer Lee. Frozen was released in the winter of 2013.

It beat every other movie of that year at the B.O. — and every other animation in history.

Still, it took me a while before I appreciated the film. I’ve always enjoyed its first act, and in my writing classes, I often show the scene where Anna meets with Prince Hans. This largely verbal ‘meet cute’ is cleverly constructed around a few simple, funny action beats. Without seeing the full film, you might argue it seems somewhat formulaic. Only, later in the movie you realise you were put on the wrong foot, as not all is what it seems.

Against Type [Spoiler]

Olaf in Disney's FrozenIn quite a few movies – Avatar and Toy Story 3 are examples – the mentor turns out to be the story’s villain.

Frozen produces a shapeshifter that is a lot less common, and darker. Here, the character who turns out to be unreliable is the heroine’s love interest.

You might expect this in a Hitchcock thriller; not so much in a 4-quadrant Disney kids animation.

To me, this is exactly what makes the movie fascinating. It is structured as a full-blown heroine’s journey, yet subverts the archetypes along the way.

Songs Scripted

No matter how much I love this romantic inciting incident at the beginning of Frozen, it’s not my favourite scene. The movie moment that enthralled me the most sits somewhere just before the movie’s halfway point.

On their journey, the characters of Anna and Sven encounter Elsa’s childhood snowman Olaf. He was brought to life inadvertently by Elsa, and in a song he dreams of seeing and experiencing summer for the first time.

The songs in this movie are fabulous. They reveal character, move the story forward, and are super catchy to boot. (*)

Should you want to know how songs are printed in a script, check out the Frozen screenplay. Just watch the video below and enter your details to receive it. You’ll find the songs are printed in BLUE CAPS.

Frozen Summer

Olaf in Disney's FrozenIn the song In Summer,  Olaf evokes the longing for the unattainable, something I believe everyone can relate to.

“Winter’s a good time to stay in and cuddle, but put me in summer and I’ll be a … [stares into a puddle] … happy snowman!”

The theme of the scene is somewhat reminiscent of Pixar’s 2010’s short film Day And Night, which was packaged before Toy Story 3.

While Olaf celebrates his pipe dream of a hot summer day, we are aware that the world won’t remain frozen forever.

When inevitably thaw will come, what will happen to Olaf? We adore him!
At the end of the movie, this question will get an unpredictable, and satisfying payoff.

Frozen is brilliant. Girlie, yes, and great.

-Karel Segers

Watch the clip below and receive the Frozen script in your inbox!

(*) Co-writer/composer Kristen Anderson-Lopez is credited as “additional story by”.

Comments 3

  1. Steven Fernandez

    Another good thing about “Frozen” was that it presented active female characters without coming across as being blatantly pandering to political correctness or the femocratic whinge-set.

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      Author
    2. Raen

      Good news – it’s entirely possible to like the film without dissing feminism or femininity.

      Frozen is a refreshing re-imagining of traditional Disney fairy tales. This genre has been tackled many times – there’s a lot of post-modern takes on it (see Shrek), but this is the first to completely subvert the damsel and prince charming archetypes.

      Like all Princess films, it’s a love story, but the shiny, powerful, magical love here is the bond between the sisters. I remember when this movie was released and there was a huge kerfuffle about the “homosexual” overtones because of this sisterly love. Elsa’s lack of any romantic interest was also sighted as proof of a lesbian agenda. *Massive eye-roll. I think family love is a wonderful thing to celebrate – after all, that is the love the main audience is most familiar with.

      But what I really love about Frozen is that the Anna saves herself. How cool is that? It’s almost as cool as having ice magic – which is pretty damn cool. No wonder it was such a hit with little girls – finally they had dynamic and inspiring characters who drive the story.

      Say what you want about femocratic whinge sets, the fact of the matter is that little girls didn’t get to see many feature films with dynamic female characters who drive the story and want more than to fall in love with the prince (it’s very much a male-dominated industry after all).

      This is beginning to change. Wreck it Ralph is also a work of genius, and just so happens to also be the work of Frozen writer Jennifer Lee, as is Zootopia. Girls with goals. Revolutionary.

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