Is the new Disney film “Frozen” based on a fairytale?
—Chad MacInnes, Champaign, Illinois
“Frozen” was an idea that Walt Disney himself had years ago, but never brought to the screen prior to his death. The most recent incarnation was originally pitched by director Chris Buck about five years ago, and it is “inspired” by Hans Christian Andersen’s “Snow Queen,” but the story is a big departure from the Danish tale.
In “Frozen,” fearless optimist Anna (voiced by Kristen Bell), teams up with rugged mountain Man Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) and his loyal reindeer Sven in an epic journey, encountering Everest-like conditions, mystical trolls and a hilarious snowman named Olaf (Josh Gad). Anna and Kristoff are in a race to find Anna’s sister Elsa (Idina Menzel), whose icy powers have trapped the kingdom of Arendelle in eternal winter, and try to warm her heart and convince her to bring back summer.
“In the original story, there were the characters of Gerda and Kai,” says writer/director Jennifer Lee. “One represented love. That was Gerta; it was her story. And the other represented fear or negativity, and that was Kai. We imbued a lot of Kai in Elsa in this version. She represents fear in society. Anna represents love and light through the fear. That theme was from the original: We shouldn’t live through fear. Love is a better way to look at life.”
“Frozen,” which opens in theaters in 3D on Nov. 27, is a film for all ages. Changing the two women characters — Elsa, the Snow Queen, and Princess Anna — into sisters made it more relatable. Viewers will be rooting for them to reconcile after their dramatic separation on the day of Elsa’s coronation as queen of Arendelle. But even with all the drama, there are well-placed moments of comedy, something that was important to the filmmakers.
“People are funny even in dramatic situations,” Lee says. “They do awkward things. If you root your comedy in that and who they are and what they want, there is a humor that comes naturally and organically. You feel like you are with a bunch of people you love, and you laugh together and cry together. You care about their journey.”
Music is also an important aspect of “Frozen,” and it won’t be surprising if at least one of the songs from the film is nominated for an Academy Award. Producer Peter Del Vecho went outside the usual Disney family of composers and obtained original songs from Tony winner Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, as well as an original score by Christopher Beck.
“I had worked with [the Lopez’s] before and listening to what [everyone] wanted to do with the film, I knew we needed a team that would be very, very involved with us right from the beginning,” says Del Vecho, who coordinated with the directors and composers to make sure each song moved the story forward or reflected the theme, and didn’t stop the action.
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