Dec 18, 2013

DISNEY: Frozen (2013)

From the first moment the heavenly chorus sang and I watched as crisp ice crystals dance on the screen to form the title logo of Disney's Frozen, I felt the film was going to be magical. When I watched it a second time, it was even better. It wasn't so much that I have a bias for powerful vocals and dazzling animations (I do, actually) but I just felt that Frozen was going to be very, very good. I didn't know it was going to be so much more.

While I can see the point a lot of criticisms make on how Frozen is just Tangled in a different season, I'm here to point out the things that do make Frozen wonderful and different from Tangled. Frozen mostly focuses on the relationship between the two sisters, Elsa and Anna, princesses from the kingdom of Arendelle. Elsa is tall and blonde, born with an ability to manipulate ice and snow which everyone feared. Anna is the younger bubbly sister who dreams of finding her true love in a party. The story is simple but effective and the impact is long-lasting, as in most Disney films.

Where Tangled had a thick and solid, well-written storyline, Frozen had several plots on thin ice, which nit-picky fans poked holes into. Most of the "plotholes" were details that simply lacked proper explanation or conclusions and may or may not alter the main plot if completed. Such areas included why Elsa was the only person in the whole kingdom with unique gifts and what the other purpose was for keeping Elsa's powers a secret, aside from isolating her sister. There was also the young Kristoff who witnessed the whole Anna-amnesia event with the trolls. Not once did he nor the trolls mention how Anna got her streak of white hair. Neither do any of them remember Elsa's powers and the past incident.

It would’ve been better if there was something more significant that happened when Anna rediscovered Elsa’s powers, or some kind of flashback when Olaf the snowman introduced himself. Maybe they had to remove these details due to the weather and time constricts, but there was so much more potential to the story elements it had. Tangled played it very well, which is why I love that film. Of course, since Disney movies are targeted primarily for children, they don't notice those sort of details.

"Some people are worth melting for." - Olaf

What I do salute about Frozen is how it casually but radically realigned the audience with the truth about true love. As Olaf properly explained in one sentence: "Love is when you put someone else's needs before your own." Yes, true love is an action, not a feeling. In its highest form, love is sacrificial and it restores all broken things and breaks curses. Admittedly, real love is just as constantly demonstrated in modern Disney tales, but for the first time ever Frozen openly states it. If Disney is snowballing towards promoting truths, I'd say they're heading for the right direction. Fictional characters have influence on people as much as real humans do.

this still from David Gilson's blog and Disney Russia Facebook

The plot and story make up the body of a magnificent film but gorgeous artwork make it look beautiful. The team that produced Tangled also worked on Frozen, which explains why the styles are similar. But the similarities end with there...the setting, the mood and the soundtrack are completely different snowflakes. Instead of curvy shapes with warm and soft pastels, Frozen took its cue from the ice: its sharp edges and cooler, bolder shades. As much as I'd love to point out all the beautiful details, I won't bore you with the technicalities because this is not an art review. I'd probably try to make an article like that someday.

Then there's the soundtrack. It's the chocolate to Frozen's cake. The only thing that sets me off about the soundtrack is how it avalanches into different music styles. There's the archaic opening vocals, the campy Broadway-inspired music number, and the pop-rock credits song. It's a tricky to try and settle to a mood when listening to the album. Anyway, I have two favorites, which are probably your favorites too. "Do You Want to Build A Snowman?" is adorably cute just like its singers, young Elsa and Anna. But this track is better listened with the movie animations since the dialogue-less scenes don't give the same impact as audio only.

My second favorite is "Let It Go," which is Elsa's solo. You can watch the song number here in Disney Animation Youtube or admire the lovely animated gif below. "Let It Go" is a powerful ballad that speaks up for volumes of emotion and insecurities. To be honest, I didn't like it the first time I heard it (I avoided all Youtube trailers and teasers so I had no idea what to expect okay.) I admire Idina Menzel but I didn't think her voice went well with Elsa. I wasn't sure if it was because I recognized Idina's distinct twang and I saw her face singing instead of Elsa's.. So it's partially her fault why I didn't like Frozen. However, this scene is my absolute favorite in the whole movie. I just loved the stunning animations of the ice and snow. It's so delightful to watch every time.

Hmmm, I mentioned at the beginning of this article, I loved the hymnal opening chorus--properly titled 'Vuelie', featuring the Norwegian choir, Cantus. I felt slightly disappointed when it didn't play again until the end of the film. I liked it a lot so I don't understand why they didn't include more of in the middle of the film. It felt like an isolated track among the more modern beats.. Also for a supposed animated musical, Frozen lacked an ending song, like a variation of "DYWBAS?" at least. Instead, we got an instrumental medley, which is good yes, but just not satisfying enough. There should've been a final duet for Elsa and Anna. Sorry, I know I'm rambling now but I just can't let it go, y'know...

It still amuses me how I adore Frozen now. I really didn't appreciate it so much the first time I watched it. I don't hate it, I just thought Tangled was way better overall. But after I watched for a second time and after repeatedly listening to the soundtrack and constantly scrolling through tags on Tumblr, it grew on me. So if you haven't seen it or have no plans to or you didn't like it, I suggest you give it another try and let the film warm up to you. Frozen is entertaining and delightful enough, attractively designed, brilliantly orchestrated and teaches a pot of golden truths. I highly recommend it worth watching for everyone to enjoy and learn a moral or two. And best of all, they all lived happily ever after.

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