Re:View – ‘Frozen’

The Arts

frozen

Admin does not make a point of attending films about princesses, but this one marks a bit of a watershed. When Pixar agreed to join Disney, who had lost the plot in its pursuit of family entertainment, it was generally felt that Pixar would be subsumed by the Mouse House. Instead, under the guidance of John Lasseter, the opposite seems to have happened if ‘Frozen’ is anything to go by.

Returning to the core storytelling that produced so many Disney classics, ‘Frozen’ dumps the irony and nudging zeitgeist jokes in favour of something more classic and timeless. It twists ‘The Snow Queen’, losing Hans and Gerda, and replacing them with two princess sisters in Erendelle, a country that combines elements of Norway, Iceland and Alaska. Here, one princess is blessed/cursed with the power of frost, icing over everything she touches. With her parents the King and Queen summarily dispatched at sea, the girls grow up separated by the dangerous power, one eventually infecting the other with her cold touch of death.

I was sorry to see Hans Christian Anderson’s key line ‘The sliver of ice was working its way slowly toward her heart’ ditched as possibly being too grim, but the rest works beautifully, with a perfect prince, an itinerant ice seller, trolls, a moose/reindeer hybrid and a chatty snowman joining one sister on a quest to save the other. Renderings of crackling ice and snow (in 3D) are simply astonishing, but the story’s the thing. While it lacks the level of danger present in past classics, and there’s no real villain beyond an avaricious merchant (English, of course), it reaches a level of melancholy loss that brought the cinema’s anklebiters out in floods of tears, the like of which hasn’t been seen since Dumbo reaches for his mother’s trunk between the bars of her cage.

The songs are serviceable, with just one zinger, and there are mercifully no excessive climaxes to them, with the traditional ‘I Want’ song reduced to a sliver. Adults will marvel at the technology and seamless storytelling, but boys will groan as the sisters gear up to sing. But then the theme here is sisterhood and empowerment, without laying the message on too thick.

Disney’s past output has usually gone in cycles. In the fifties, ‘101 Dalmations’ remains a delightful highlight, ‘Cinderella’ an anodyne low-point, and the nineties cycle lost traction after ‘Mulan’ . From ‘Frozen’, it looks as if a new cycle of hits has begun. Try to see the short with it, which takes audiences from ‘Steamboat Willie’-era Mickey into the future via some terrific gags.

7 comments on “Re:View – ‘Frozen’”

  1. pheeny says:

    I was going to give this a miss – the poster is less than inspiring and the fact that the trailer comprised a “short” led me to think that the plot was too feeble to get an airing – now it will definitely be on “see it on DVD” list even if I don’t make it to the cinema

  2. Dan Terrell says:

    Excellent.
    I’ll take the youngest granddaughter to this. She is entering the zone where “kids movies” are too young for her, but this one, which looked good to me, should please her.
    A rule of life – I’ve found – is in every genre there are gems, so don’t rule out everything because you don’t think you’ll like it. (Well, I’m not sure this works with zombies)

  3. Ken Murray says:

    I have been reliably informed by an expert in the genre, my 5yr old daughter, that Disney had already recently done another take on this story. It came out as part of their Tinkerbell franchise, with faeries instead of Princesses. Good stories never die I guess?

  4. Alan Morgan says:

    I hope that being a tale of sisters they fight, squabble and pout at each other a lot. I’ve got two girls, reality might well have marked me down as a singing-sisters cynic.

  5. admin says:

    Actually it turns out that the sisters are rather good at architecture. When one stamps her foot she creates something that looks like an ice version of the Segrada Familia.

  6. glasgow1975 says:

    Oh Dan you should give Warm Bodies a go – Zombies need love too!

  7. Helen Martin says:

    Comments around here are certainly favourable.

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