I spent my summer back at home in Finland and watched lots of Disney animations. I also re-watched Frozen so here are some of my thoughts on this animation that has become world wide phenomena.
Frozen is Disney animated film released in 2013. It is Disney animated classic number 53.
I bet everyone is familiar with the plot. In the Kingdom of Arendelle princess Elsa has magical gift to create snow and ice. One day she is playing with her little sister Anna and Anna gets into an accident. Elsa gets scared of her powers that caused this. Parents take them to see the troll shaman, who tells Elsa to be careful with her gift. He erases Anna's memory so that she wont remember her sister having powers.
In the next chapter parents drown at sea and Elsa is going to become new queen of Arendelle. Sisters haven't been in close terms since childhood. Anna still misses her sister.
During the coronation Anna meets Hans prince of the Southern Islands and develops a crush on him. After few songs couple is planning to get married. Of course Elsa doesn't wish her sister to marry a man she has only known for few hours. Sisters are having an argument and Elsa's powers are revealed. This is specially noticed by duke of Weselton who already has his mind on overtaking Arendelle. Elsa runs away to the mountains and leaves her sister and people of Arendelle to everlasting winter.
Anna wont give up. She leaves prince Hans in charge and goes after her sister. He meets Kristoff Ice deliverer. With his reindeer Sven he decides to help Anna with her quest of find Elsa. They reach Elsa's ice palace where they meet Snowman Olaf who Elsa created as a child. Olaf joins the group. Anna meets Elsa in the palace. Sister seems liberated but she does not wish to return to Arendelle. Kristoff takes Anna to meet the troll Shaman. Maybe he could help them to get Elsa back. Only goal for trolls seems to fix Anna to marry Kristoff. Suddenly Anna's faints. Fights with her sister are finally turning her heart to cold.
Kristoff, Olaf and Sven take Anna back to the palace to prince Hans. Hans turns out to be the bad guy and tells Anna that only reason he wanted to marry her is that in his home country he doesn't have any chances for the throne. Anna becomes very upset. Olaf helps her to understand that is really Kristoff who truly loves her. When Anna hears that Hans is planning to kill Elsa she decides to stop him.
In the last battle Hans makes Elsa to believe that Anna is dead. In the snowstorm Hans tries to kill Elsa when Anna runs between them and turns into ice. Elsa cries and hugs her sister and Anna melts back to human. Elsa finally understands that she can be all queen, sister and use her powers freely. She turns summer back to Arendelle and creates little snow cloud for Olaf. Duke of Weselton and prince Hans are both sent back to their home lands. Kristoff becomes official ice deliverer and his relationship with Anna also becomes official. Movie ends to a skating scene where characters enjoy each others company.
Elsa and Anna
Several Disney-fans and non-Disney-fans have tried to explain how come Frozen is so damn popular. Movie came to the theaters in 2013 and it is as popular as ever. I personally believe that it is because there is two very different princesses in the movie and viewer can identify themselves to either one. They can choose to be in the Elsa-camp or Anna-camp. I'm definitely in the Elsa-camp myself. 21-year old Elsa is the "oldest" Disney princess. Anna is 18. Elsa is in many ways more mature than Anna but she is also slightly melancholic and introverted. Especially in the beginning of the movie Anna is very naive. Kristoff asks the question that viewers are wondering "why the heck you wish to marry a guy you just met!"
I've been thinking a lot about sister's situation. In the song "For the first time in forever" Anna happily sings how they are going to open the gate and for the first time she is going to meet new people. She also sings about meeting man of her dreams. Anna has been living very protected life. Parents have passed away, sister pretty much lives in her own world. Servants are servants not her real friends. Anna however is an optimist and believes that by becoming a queen Elsa also becomes more social. If I compare the life of Anna and Elsa to the life of royal families in Europe. The heirs to the crown always have huge amount of pressure on them while other siblings can live their lives more care free. I bet many as a child has dreamed about meeting prince (or princess) of our dreams. Anna who has lived very isolated from the rest of the world still believes in this at the age of 18.
Anna's care for her sister is endearing and she can not understand why Elsa is shutting her out from her life. Elsa believes that by isolating herself she protects her sister but secret almost breaks up their relationship. Elsa also takes care of Anna and her well being and understands that Anna can not marry a guy who she just met.
Kristoff, Olaf and Sven
I have always liked the character of Kristoff. I think I read from Disney Wiki that Kristoff is Norwegian-Sami. What it comes to his reindeer-leather/fur clothes this makes sense. Those of you who don't know the Sami people are native people of Lapland. One thing that puzzles me is that Kristoff is a blonde and usually Sami people have quite dark hair but then again I'm a Finn with Sami ancestry and I have blonde hair so of course it's possible. Kristoff is probably Norwegian Sami orphan since he was raised by trolls.
Sven however is a character who I have mixed up feelings. I've been recently doing lots of research on Sami people, culture and reindeer herding (because I'm cool that way).
Before Sami lifestyle became more intertwined with reindeer meat industry Sami people kept wild reindeers as their pets. However in 19th century Norway Sami lifestyle was more around reindeer meat industry.
Kristoff however is not reindeer herder but an ice deliverer so he can have a reindeer sidekick.
My problem with Sven is that there is more doggy features than reindeer features. In away character is a copy of Maximus from Tangled where horse was more a sniffer dog than a cavalry horse. I think more reindeerish Sven would have been more authentic and I must add one can not really ride with reindeer's. I'm from northern Finland and always enjoy seeing reindeer's.
In the beginning I was quite annoyed by the character of Olaf. I believe he was added to the film for the child viewers (and of course kids are the primal audience for Disney films). For me Olaf felt bit too childish (I'm Olaf I love warm hugs!) so my inner cynic was against. Now I'm bit more softer and believe that film needs Olaf to balance Elsa's inner struggles and Anna's dreamy personality.
Frozen takes place in Arendelle, country that was loosely inspired by Norway and Norwegian culture. Film settings and clothes were also inspired by Norway in the beginning of 19th century. I read from Disney Wiki that Anna's and Elsa's parents are called King Agnarr and Queen Iduna. Frozen takes place in July 1839. Arendelle's symbol is the Crocus flower and colors are green and purple. You can see the color scheme in Anna's outfits also in Elsa's outfits in the coronation. Otherwise Elsa's outfits portray her belonging to the world of winter and snow.
Norway is a country with long troll-tradition and I think it's just awesome that there are trolls in Frozen. Only thing that I didn't enjoy that much was the song of the trolls (Fixer Upper) that was more a broadway musical song and not that close to music that in Norway has been more connected to trolls like drums and folk instruments.
Songs and voice overs
When I first moved to Wales and went to Tesco to buy Christmas gifts there was Frozen songs playing non-stop. I wish they would play non-stop in Finnish shopping centers as well! haha! There is bloody many songs in Frozen, even for a Disney musical there's so many songs.
My personal favorites are "Frozen heart" and "Let it go". Last time while travelling in way north Finland and I saw reindeer's I had to sing "Reindeer's are better than people" lol
Since I'm Finnish I usually prefer the Finnish voice overs and usually voice overs are done with great care for animations in Finland. Unfortunately at least what it comes to recent Finnish voice overs from the past 10 years they've gone really bad. That is why I prefer to watch Frozen in English than Finnish. I've only watched the Finnish version once and after that stick with the English version. Saara Aalto did the Finnish voice of Anna but her voice is just too high pitch to my ear so I prefer Kristen Bell. I'm quite careful with voices since I'm highly sensitive and find too high noises very distressing. But Finnish voice of Kristoff was even worse. Axl Smith who is Finnish media persona did voice of Kristoff and he spoke with very heavy Helsinki-accent. I personally speak with heavy Oulu accent but to be fairy when it is an animation I wish that characters would speak in common language and with accent as long as it fits for the character. Especially according to Disney Kristoff is northern Sami it would have been cool if in Finnish version his voice would have been someone who speaks with northern Finnsih/ Lapland accent.
Unfortunately in Finland there has been this very unfortunate trend within past years to hire the most biggest celebrities/famous people of that moment to do voice overs to animations. When there's great amount wonderful trained voice actors. I don't really get it..
I do like Katja Sirkiä who is the Finnish voice of Elsa. She is trained voice actress and does fabulous job. I do like listen "Taakse jää" (Let it go in Finnish) in Finnish. Otherwise I think English voice over is way better on Frozen than Finnish. That's my personal preference.
I like to research stories which animations are based. Last year I took part on online course about Hans Christian Andersen that was organized by the university of Odense. One of the assigments was to compare Andersen's little Mermaid and Disney's little mermaid. You can read my thoughts about it here.
We also went through Andersen's other famous fairy tale "the Snow Queen". Frozen is loosely based on the Snow Queen. Walt Disney himself was planning to make an animation from this famous fairy tale but other projects kept him occupied. In it's early design process Frozen was much more closer to Andersen's fairy tale.
For those of you who haven't read Andersen's story. It is very episodic and tells about two children Gerda and Kay. As I recall story doesn't mention where they live. I assume that in a city in Norway or in Denmark. Gerda and Kay weren't sister and brother but loved each others like sister and brother. Like many Andersen's fairy tale Snow Queen has Christian elements. Fairy tale begins when a mirror made by the devil gets broken. Piece of the shattered glass gets inside Kay's eye. This is noticed by the wicked Snow Queen and she kidnaps Kay to herself.
Gerda travels to Lapland to Snow Queen's kingdom to find Kay. Little thief girl (perhaps she is a Sami) is helping her with her reindeer and two crows. One of the shattered glass pieces reaches Kay's heart and makes him "Frozen". Gerda still manages to save Kay before it's too late and destroys the evil Snow Queen.
In the end the plot for Frozen was completely re-written, maybe that is better because original story is quite complex and episodic. Gerda and Kay were turned into two sisters. Anna's relentless nature reminds Gerda's persistence to save Kay. In away Anna reminds Kay when her heart get's cold after fighting with Elsa. No way Elsa is evil Snow Queen, even though according to the duke of Weselton and inhabitants of Arendelle that is exactly what she is. This is a great reference to the past of human mind and how easy it was to label someone as a witch. Just the fact that Elsa chooses to live alone in a far away cold palace isolated from the rest of the world feeds this idealism where powerful woman who chooses to live alone is dangerous.
The way Snow Queen wants to adopt little boy to herself has little bit resemblance to Elsa's grief and sadness for that she feels need to isolate herself from her family and the rest of the world. I believe one major reason for Frozen's insane popularity is the sibling relationship. This is also one of the reasons that made Andersen's fairy tale very popular. There isn't romance in Snow Queen. There is romance of Anna and Kristoff in Frozen. Still main focus in Frozen is the relationship of the two sisters. Disney has several films about sibling relationships like "My brother bear" and my personal favorite "Lilo and Stitch". Also in Frozen both of the main characters are very multidimensional.
Overall the world of Frozen portraits mindset of 2013 more than beginning of the 19th century. I give solid three and half stars to Frozen. Some trivia to the end. In 2014 Frozen won an oscar for the best animated feature and Let it Go was the best song. Frozen sequel is currently in the making before that we can all sing "Let it go! Let it go! I can't hold it back anymore!