Our Favourite Films: Frozen

frozen 1 indexExcuse me Duke, but your hairpiece is flapping like a cloak during a gale

I rewatched this via one of the network channels (thank you DVR and digital TV!) and while skipping through the ads, something caught my eye. My initial thought was that it was an advert for a film (the ones that remind you that the Blu-Ray version is out), then it seemed long so I pressed ‘play’ and watched the last few seconds and it seemed like Nana was getting a Mickey plush from her granddaughter. The end just indicated that it was from Disney and the words: “From Our Family To Yours”. No wishes of Happy Holidays or anything else.

After not seeing it in Disney’s main YouTube channel, I found it in the UK one adding the keywords during the closing minutes (“From Our Family To Yours”). At 2:56 that is one long ad! And the difference: the one on Disney’s UK YouTube Channel includes links to the Disney web store and a note that it supports the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The artist lending her vocals is Griff (Sarah Griffiths) who comments on the video. After rewatching the ad that came out on telly, it was the same song.

During a rewatch of the ad to confirm that it was Sarah who was singing (and if it was indeed the same song), I noticed that the kid who was given the plushie at the start was the grandma as she was the one who had a mole near her left eye. That was the reason I noticed the difference (or the sameness) because I thought it was quite authentic that Disney chose to put a mole on the face of the kid…and the epiphany came when I checked to see if the granddaughter had any moles on her face (none!). So, I realised, Mickey was being handed by nana to her grandkid.

Why tell you about that seemingly inane observation (at least to those who aren’t fan of ads)? I think it was more of getting to the fact that Disney puts in a lot of work in what they do. I could only imagine what went on with the animation team and someone asks: “So how do they know that grandma is that kid”? It’s proof that the brand that owns a lot of other brands (like Marvel and National Geographic) does know its audience and doesn’t hesitate to communicate that fact. I would confirm that I could get lost in the Disney store if I let myself.

You know what’s funny? I was actually about to mention the one area of Disney that doesn’t scream ‘quality’: Disney Plus. Oh yeah, since it launched I’ve been wondering why the tech gurus within the behemoth hadn’t applied the same (or greater) security measures they do with the main site. But when I scanned the Disney+ site on Sucuri’s SiteCheck page it came up green rather than amber. Though of course things aren’t going to be perfect (that we’ll always get what we expect or what we even didn’t know we wanted), it’s proof that there’s that Pixar process has permeated within anything Disney related. Though instead of calling it ‘Braintrust’ the group is referred to as the ‘Story Trust‘ and why the films leading up to Frozen’s release (‘Tangled’, ‘Secretariat’, ‘Bolt’, and…I was about to say ‘Enchanted’…then for a moment thought it wasn’t a Disney release) have earned their place in my list.

The biggest problem when getting information about a film that already has a second instalment is finding information specific to the first one. Since I really wanted to know what other viewers think, I could only think of one possible name: Hans. I realised that this wouldn’t make much of a difference as he still is mentioned in ‘Frozen II’ (Does that constitute a spoiler? I don’t think so). So I finally got my name: Duke Weasel voiced by Alan Tudyk. Oh wait! That should be Weaselton. Though Alan also appears during ‘Frozen 2’, Weaselton does not. Interviews are easy as the more recent ones also usually mention what happened in the first film.

I think the ‘hat trick’ the the film manages to achieve is knowing the kind (and amount) of information to give viewers. For example Weaselton mentions to Elsa that they are trading partners. What I would have wanted to know is what kind of trade happened before (and how limited interaction with the Royal Family of Arendelle has affected the earning capacity of either side). That kind of information would really have been handy if it was a set-up for something at another point in the story. But if not. Well…it might just be empty words, right? It’s just like how we don’t get much from Hans about how he was raised. Did he have a happy childhood?

Though ‘Frozen’ seems similar to ‘Enchanted’ because they both burst the bubble about the concept of ‘Prince Charming’, they differ because the antagonist in the former doesn’t get revealed during Act 1.

The Setup: kids Anna (Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel) live a carefree life in the Kingdom of Arendelle with their parents (the king and queen) until Elsa suddenly hits her younger sister with magic (I was going to say ‘ice bolt’ but then was reminded that the entirety of Elsa’s powers have to do with ice) that was supposed to form into a mound of snow for Anna to jump on. Hurrying to the settlement of trolls in the the forest and speak to the chief, Pabbie (Ciarán Hinds), to seek help for their daughter, they are told of the danger of Elsa’s powers. Being parents who want their kids to be safe, they decide to limit contact between the sisters. Of course this is difficult for Anna and she yearns to connect with Elsa, but her older sister intentionally stays away our of concern for her sister’s safety.

The Inciting Incident: The King and Queen don’t make it back. As Olaf tells a group of Northuldrans and Arendellian soldiers in ‘Frozen II’: “Their parents are dead!”. The parents bid farewell to Anna saying that they would return in two weeks but something happened while they were at sea. After a period of mourning in Arendelle, Elsa has no choice but to assume the throne as she is next in line once she comes of age (21 according to one of the Wikis). This triggers the kingdom to open for the coronation and in come opportunists like Weaselton and Hans (Santino Fontana).

As Anna and Hans sing ‘Love Is An Open Door’, I pondered on the explanation of why they were drawn to each other. The answer seems to lie in their attachment styles. Though more specifically, I think it’s more of what they were denied as a child, so whichever it is, it is not definitely secure. Hans confesses to Anna that some of his brothers treated him as if he didn’t exist (like he was invisible). And for what ensues after, it does echo a lot of what John Bradshaw shared when he was a guest at The Oprah Winfrey Show. It hits me that for the sake of personal development the phrase ‘love is an open door’ could be applied in a healthy way (that we should be open to let go of people when the match is not there).

Since I’ve seen ‘Short Term 12‘, I am familiar with the concept of a ‘cool down room’ and think that a plushie Hans (or even life size to tackle and do all sorts of wrestling moves on?) might fit there nicely. Even if it takes until Act 3 to find out who the antagonist is, that revelation doesn’t take away from what drives the story. You might know already what (or who) it is, and just in case you’re picking just one review before pressing play, I will let you experience it as it is the beauty of watching something like this for the first time.

A darker version of this would play like Showtime’s ‘Love Fraud‘. Which makes me fascinated by the lack of officials wanting the throne to themselves. Could that speak to the kind of culture Arendellians live by? I guess we could also consider that it’s a pretty remote kingdom, and assume that it isn’t as vulnerable compare to those in more forgiving climates. Anna mentions in the second film about the ethos that is close to living in harmony with others, and it could be the clue on the kind of upbringing Queen Iduna and King Agnarr had for the siblings.

Comedic Moments:

  • 9-year-old Anna curving her mouth so her words could carry better through the keyhole
  • Weaselton’s narration while ‘dancing’
  • Anna making her way to Oaken’s with the bottom half of her gown frozen
  • Olaf’s head getting kicked off from his body because Anna panicked
  • The snowman giving Kristoff a hard time
  • Olaf’s random interjections (“I don’t have a skull…or bones.”)

When Olaf starts joining in Anna and Kristoff’s conversation then Anna reflexively kicks off his head, I wonder if that was a product of the remnants of Anna watching horror movies (and probably regretting it). This brings me to the conclusion that it’s unlikely that I’ll watch films that other viewers have named as classics (1989’s ‘The Little Mermaid’ and 1991’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’) and go: Yeah…I don’t think ‘Frozen’ is more enjoyable than those two. Given the change in story pacing and editing, my guess is that when I rewatch them, I’ll likely have similar feelings after rewatches of ‘Mad About You’ and ‘Frasier’ (they have slid from an 8/10 to a 4/10 because too much time has passed).

I think the best way to leave it in your hands would be: What do you think Sven’s flaw is? And why does Olaf not warm to Kristoff right away? But what if you’re a ‘Homeland’ fan like me? Well, imagine the final season, the work done to get it to that point. I feel like it’s a bit like how Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee managed to make this a film that’s on everyone’s Top 5 list when naming Disney titles. They just went ‘all out’.

Leigh Lim.
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