Moscow State Symphony Orchestra Concert

Held at St David’s Hall, Cardiff on 17th May 2016.

A performance of Prokofiev’s Russian Overture 13′, Prokofiev’ Piano Concerto No 3 28′ and Shostakovich’ Symphony No 5 48′


The evening consisted of the following:
Pre-Concert Talk (FREE) – Jonathan James & Noriko Okawa, 6.30pm – 7.00pm, Lefel 1
Join Bristol-based music educator Jonathan James in conversation with pianist Noriko Ogawa.

Young Artists Showcase (FREE) – Beatrice Acland (soprano) & Ella O’Neill (piano),
7pm, Level 3 foyer stage
Young soprano Beatrice Acland is a current MA Opera student at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. She is joined by fellow student Ella O’Neill, for selections of vocal music by Rachmaninoff and Dvořák.

Post-Concert ’30-Minutes’ (£1.50) – Katie Lower (flute) & Joshua Abbott (piano),
9.30pm, Lefel 1
Prokofiev Flute Sonata in D, Op. 94

Post-Concert Tickets £1.50 (No Ticket Service Charge applies)


Moscow State Symphony Orchestra
International Concert Series

Tuesday 17 May, 7.30pm to 9.30pm

‘The Moscow State Symphony Orchestra might well be the world’s least-heralded great orchestra … With these revelatory Russians, a free seismic test is part of the bargain.’ – Los Angeles Times

The Moscow State Symphony Orchestra is led by their Conductor Pavel Kogan and accompanied by the piano soloist Noriko Ogawa.

For almost seven decades the Moscow State Symphony Orchestra has been one of Russia’s leading orchestras, forming a legendary partnership with their conductor Pavel Kogan. Hear them in work by two of Russia’s greatest composers, Prokofiev and Shostakovich. Noriko Ogawa is the soloist in Prokofiev’s high energy, sardonic and sometimes bitter-sweet Third Piano Concerto and the concert ends with a classic: Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony, a dark tragic courageous reply from an individual to the state.

This UK tour by the Moscow State Symphony Orchestra is supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation.


Standard Price £7.50 | £15.50 | £19.50 | £26.00 | £32.50 | £39.50
Platinum Tickets (including prime seat in Tier 1, a glass of champagne and a programme) £48.00
Friends of St David’s Hall £2.00 off
Under 16 £ 5.00
Students (up until 6.00pm on the day of the performance) £ 5.00
Claimants £2.00 off
Disabled people (plus one companion) £ 7.50
(Wheelchair users plus one companion seats at lowest prices)


 

REVIEW
I missed the pre-show talk but the Young Artists Showcase of Beatrice Acland (soprano) & Ella O’Neill (piano) was on the same level as my seating and was a really good pre-show ‘warm up’ for the audience. WMC (Wales Millennium Centre) also do a similar thing in their foyer of letting younger acts do a short performance and it can only do good to give them an opportunity.

pre show

It would have been nice if they were introduced by a member of staff rather than having to do so themselves as it would give them some respect as contributors to the evening’s events.

The joke I am reminded of by these circumstances is the one about a restaurant advertising for musicians to play for free, to promote themselves, and someone replying by imitating the poster’s use of language and advertising in rebuttal for free meals at their home to promote the restaurant.

I’m sure they were treated well but from the look of it they turned up, got on stage and did their thing then left without any significant staff interaction.

I can only imagine, when that worse case scenario does occur at any venue, it would be setting the venue up for a downfall in the future. Of course there would have been a staff turnover by them so there is always a slight aspect of inheriting a poison chalice if the previous senior staff were not cordial with people who were only beginning their careers at the time.

Beatrice and Ella were both very good and I hope to see their names again in the years to come. Despite how I make it sound they did receive applause after each piece and seemed happy with the performance.

For the main event I saw for the first time in person the seating behind the stage being used. I personally was sat towards the front in the stalls. Ironically the behind stage seating, when an orchestra is the sole aspect of the performance, is probably preferrable. Definitely when Okawa’s grand piano was being wheeled to the front it was the only seating that didn’t have a lot of the stage obscured.

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In order to get the piano to the front, after the overture had been performed, a 5 – 7 minute impromptu interruption occurred leaving the audience just sat in silence staring at the stage staff adjusting things. When you are sat there doing nothing even this short period of time can seem like an eternity despite there obviously being no other options available. The violinists and cellists had to leave the stage, the conductor’s podium moved deeper into the stage and the grand piano actually overlapping the podium. The stage area is very limited so I can only imagine how cramped it was. Once the lid to the piano was opened Kogan was probably unseeable for most people. I was actually concerned that if he lost his footing he would fall directly onto the piano as the rail of the podium had to be left off due to the overlap. That is my only significant criticism of the evening. I imagine they discussed what to do earlier and sadly this was the only option but it was such a distinct interruption to the proceedings I wish they had perhaps agreed to alter the set and have the piano and Okawa’s part performed at the start of the second half instead.
Under the orchestra staff they had to put long pieces of cardboard for friction so no one’s chairs moved about. Do they usually do that? I have never been sat close enough to the stage to notice before.

The performance was, as you would expect, an excellent world-class experience and St David’s Hall is truly the best location still for the acoustics it delivers even in contrast to WMC. Ozawa excelled in her part and ‘stole the show’ if such a thing can be suggested. Kogan, despite never addressing the audience save for gestures and smiles, seemed very jovial and after receiving rapturous applause even performed a short humourous piece which was unexpected and much appreciated by the audience.

The real gem of the evening was the intimate performance of Prokofiev’s Flute Sonata in D, Op. 94 on level one (in the room I am certain used to be a restaurant). The musicians were Katie Lower (flute) & Joshua Abbott (piano). Katie introduced herself and Joshua then gave a small overview of the piece and its history. The ticket was only £1.50 and worth every penny. Sadly there were only about 14 people there which I assume is because it was about 9.45PM and so anyone needing the train or other public transport would have had no choice but go due to scheduling. It is a shame as it was a very enjoyable 30 or so minutes.

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I don’t know if musicians would prefer a small but focused audience, like this, or a larger, if inattentive, audience as Beatrice Acland and Ella O’Neill had prior to the concert. Both have their pros and cons I suppose.

A wonderful evening and I hope the Moscow State Symphony Orchestra return again in year’s to come.


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Only The Brave – Musical [First Impressions and Story Synopsis]

Following is my initial impression of the new musical ‘Only the Brave’ premiering at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff. I will write a more thorough review later this week.

First let me give you a few videos and information in case you are not already familiar with it:

Donald Gordon Theatre

Created by Wales Millennium Centre with Soho Theatre, Daniel Sparrow Productions & Birdsong Productions
Only The Brave
A New Musical

28 Mar – 02 Apr 2016

Previews: Mon – Wed £11 – £25* Premium Packages*** £35*
Thu – Sat £14 – £29* Premium Packages*** £39*

Age Guidance: 11+ (No under 2s)

Only the Brave is an epic new musical about love, friendship and, above all, hope.

Starring Emilie Fleming (Les Misérables, Oliver!), Neil McDermott (EastEnders, Shrek The Musical), Caroline Sheen (Mary Poppins, Les Misérables) and David Thaxton (Les Misérables, Love Never Dies), this moving new musical delves into the lives of the men and women who made the most astonishing sacrifices in order to protect their country and provide a better future for those they loved.

Based on the true events leading up to the D-Day landings, Only the Brave follows a group of men embarking on the ultimate mission, the friendship of two women united by love and loss, and the bravery of a young French girl determined to play her part.

In collaboration with the team behind the stunning UK tour of Sebastian Faulks’ Birdsong and with an original score by Cardiff born composer Matthew Brind, Wales Millennium Centre is proud to create and première this home-grown musical that will send your heart soaring.

Book by Rachel Wagstaff
Music by Matthew Brind
Directed by Steve Marmion
Original concept by Steve Coleman, Matthew Brind & Rachel Wagstaff
Lyrics by Steve Marmion


Synopsis and Review

I typed this on my phone during the intermission and after the show so some events may be out of order and it is a very scrappy account of the proceedings. As this is the first time this musical has been performed it is natural that you will not pick up the names of all the characters initially but, to the productions credit,  I found that they were all very distinct and I would suggest that any criticisms in this regard only be challenged by asking if the same critic can name all the individual protesting students, who each have a distinct characteristic, during Marius’ scenes of Les Miserables even all these years later after its international success and social osmosis.

PART 1

The first few scenes had ‘muddy’ sound quality at the start and also something I will often come back to in the proper review: the use of simultaneous scenes occurring on stage leading the audience to miss events. The very first scene is of an old man, John Howard, in a care home lying on a bed who gets up and faces his younger self. We are introduced to Captain (later Major) John Howard and Lieutenant Denham Brotheridge courting their respective wives prior to enlistment. During this people run back and forth on stage to show the build up to war and it all seems very confusing.

There is a mix of song quality and nothing feels memorable but perhaps in time would be. Certainly the initial sound quality spoiled the opening pieces. The first few bits with moving stairs is overkill pre-enlistment as they never seem to stop moving them in order to impress up on the audience how much activity there was occurring. The lightweight staircases are used throughout the performance to emulate military locations, the small housing of the nurse’s office, at the start of the second half the aeroplane being flown and at the end the bridge they have their mission at.

As they are back projected a shiloette of one onto the ‘safety curtain’ I suppose at some point the production decided, of all the things in this musical, this scenery prop is what they want to be the iconic image. Phantom of the Opera has the mask, Les Mis has the illustration of Cosette as a child with the tricolor, Oklahoma has the map of the state, various musicals have the title done in a stylised way… and Only The Brave has a stage prop. It seemed an odd choice that this be the audience’s first image of the performance.

After the initial ‘we are real men’ macho events of John knocking out all his group during some boxing training (and he becomes regional champion possibly? I wasn’t clear what was happening as this part moved so quickly) to assert he is the alpha male and lead. Also at this point someone introduces Tony ‘Darky’ Baines. I think it is the ‘Jesus’ lieutenant saying “but everyone calls him that” but not John. There is no racism in his unit which feels like quite an anachronistic, politically correct, view. It may be true historically, as this is based on real events, but when we have Prince Harry referring to one of his colleagues by the nickname Raghead a few years ago, and such nicknames are common place in the armed forces as a demonstration of mental toughness and brotherhood, it seemed a bit too forced to suggest this would have been challenged in the 1940s. Hopefully I am wrong but it felt too forced a moment during the performance.

There is also a Welsh character who keeps turning up late to practise. I wonder, should the musical tour, if this role will be changed to which ever region they perform at or the character will always be Welsh thus presenting us as as dim witted, late to everything and as a potential liability on the mission. In the second half he somehow disappears after the plane crash only to reappear to deliver the same running ‘Sorry I’m late’ joke for the final time during a skirmish where other team members have died.

 John’s first, comedy relief, lieutenant is introduced saying ” I’m Jesus”. John looks at him blankly. “Jesus Christ College, Cambridge. You?” The boy, in officer’s uniform, assumes John is of the educated social elite, not working class, due to being in a commanding role. A few minutes later this lieutenant is joking to one side with another ‘elite’ about some one shooting a hose thinking it was a snake. John is not impressed and makes it clear to the general requesting a replacement. The general, whenever he pops up, makes french jokes such as “Whats the difference between a Frenchman and toast? You can make soldiers out of toast”. He does this a few more times throughout until the intel in the final act proves to have been useful and he says he always believed in the French. Another ‘upper class twit’ character.

We finally reach what would be the start point of any other production i.e. John’s first encounter with Denham and their immediate camaraderie. They bond over the fact they both like football, played a bit of it too, they both have, or will by the end, have pregnant wives. Good, honest, salt of the Earth, blokey, Working Class, subjects of conversation. Good old fashioned caricatures of what it is to be real men.

John’s group, unit B, is for good, hard working, salt of the earth, Working Class Lads not toffs. Really the start of the musical hammers this in. I have to wonder if this was to appease the Welsh audience who they no doubt believe hold similar views? John wants Denham as his lieutenant but Denham is dedicated to being part of Company D who he already belongs to. He insists and gets his way. Later on Unit D are mentioned again in a moment of appraisal from the general and sound like they were doing well while John seems to struggle between being a stiff upper lipped leader and ‘one of the lads’ at Denham’s insistence because “They will be more willing to die for you then”.

We get some training scenes, which are very well choreographed,  and the Captain becomes ‘one of the lads’ after buying them a crate of beers and getting dragged into going to a dance hall with them. His Lieutenant and he bond over their pregnancy wives.

So far I haven’t really mentioned the scenes ‘back home’ featuring the women. To be honest they seem an ill fit with the military side of the story. Its too awkward a juxtaposition and I think that, for me, it was more about how they segwayed between the two scenes or used the stairwells, with seating, to elevate the women chatting on sofa’s about ‘women’s troubles during the war’. The dialogue seems to do little except convey an oddly archiac stereotype of the mentality of women during the time. These are not women ‘doing their bit but preoccupied with being pregnant and recounting hearing from their significant others as if that is their lot in life. It almost feels as if these scenes are tacked on as if a producer, or someone else with clout, said at a late stage production announced ‘this needs more women’ and they had to accommodate at short notice.

However there is one female role , or two though the nurse’s significance doesnt become apparent until the end, which is well conceived. A French waitress offers to aid the resistance in France as she can speak perfect German and therefore would be a key asset in getting information to aid the cause. The nurse, who informs the resistance, refuses telling her she is only a girl. The girl, Isabelle, insists and the nurse relents. Thus Isabelle goes on to spy on the German officers who discuss their orders openly in the cafe under the mistaken belief she cannot understand them. There is a running side story explaining her motivation and I felt this was if anything underplayed considering the message of the musical. Her mother said the Germans did not belong in France and for this was tied to a tree, shot and Isabelle was told not to bury the body for 24 hours. During this time she held her dead mother’s hand and her hatred of the German’s festered. This backstory is played out low lit in the background of some of Isabelle’s scenes (performed by the other ensemble actresses) and at first felt jarring as it is in such stark contrast to other events in the first act which almost come across as an homage to the ‘jolly old war’ sanitised unreal tone of films from the 1950s depicting the events of war time squadrons.

In contrast to Isabelle, who is on the front lines risking her life, the wives back home become typists for the war effort and discuss a bit more how pregnant they are and if it will be a boy or girl and how they want their significant other to see the child (in case they die out on the front). Honestly the more I think about it the more it rings true that this has the tone of a 1950s film. Perhaps that was the intention though nowhere in the press releases etc did it imply this.

So the dance hall events come to an end and John is told that due to weight issues he should leave one of his men behind. He goes to ask them and says there is no shame in wanting to go home (well except the massive amount of ‘what did you do in the war daddy?’ style social pressure propaganda and living the rest of your life with that shame –  no none at all). No one volunteers. He is proud of them. Eventually he has the youngest, who is 16 not 19, and hasn’t even kissed a girl until tonight, not go on the mission and gives the crying boy a fatherly hug. He is a father to his men in case it was too subtle. We are men with gusto. No intellectuals here. Just good honest Working Class blokes. Wear our hearts on our sleeves. Do what needs to be done no matter the cost. Each has a purpose e.g the medic (Welsh as his mother was a nurse), the pilot, the munitions guy, etc. Also the General casually informs John he is now a Major in rank prior to the mission. At some point the ‘best marksman’ on the team shoots Denham in the leg during a training exercise but John doesn’t report him and Denham forgives him. (which later leads into the moral of ‘choosing forgiveness over vengeance is the braver act’ the musical wishes to display).

Throughout the musical the humour feels weakly implemented although I could chalk it up to the audience not knowing when to laugh (which is an annoying import from American sit-coms which have laughter tracks to tell you when something is funny and you should laugh like a trained seal) so the General is laughed with, not at, for his anti-French comments at the moment despite him being a caricature of the ‘stiff upper lip’ upper class twit you usually see in war films. The audience hasn’t ‘learned’ when it is appropriate to laugh during this performance yet… as much as I hate to suggest such a cue for audience reaction exists.

The German General and Officer realise that Isabelle understands what they are saying and reporting it to the resistance. The general leaves and the Officer beats Isabelle up. He then hands a gun to his teenage subordinate, who for no real reason mentions his father shot himself during the Great War, to kill Isabelle. He can’t bring himself to do it.  Last song before end act 1 is very good obviously as they want you to come back for the second half, and the stage fades to black with Unit B preparing to take flight in the plane, the German youth stood over Isabelle holding the gun and John’s wife holding their child stood on one of the stairwells as a symbol of the women left behind.

They over do it with the moveable stairwells. Technically good but story is naff patriotic material from an old movie.

PART 2

A muddled start again as they simultaneously play out the flight and its difficulties, the wives in the typist pool and the young Germany demanding Isabelle give him some scrap of information to take back to his superiors in exchange for letting her go. The plane, represented by 4 of the stairwells being used in conjunction (rotating on stage with a back projected front of place window) crashes, the German youth holds the gun to Isabelle but ultimately let’s her go as he cannot bring himself to kill someone and the typing pool… types out letters of condolence. Sorry but the women’s scenes really are not gelling well with the other aspects. It may be the bright colours or the tone of their songs. It comes across as ‘well sucks to be you risking life and limb in the battle zone’ unintentionally. You are torn between focusing on the flight of Unit B or Isabelle’s impending death so the typists is an extra layer on top but clashes with the tone of the other parts.

Also there is a recurring mention of John having some form of issue with flying and we are finally told what it is as he lies shivering on the floor of the plane. He passes out at the start of flights due to nerves… or something. If this happened to the man in real life I understand its inclusion but it feels awkwardly included in this musical. I would prefer that when it is first mentioned by the General in the first half they just state it all then not have what amounts to exposition as they are flying into enemy territory. If it was omitted it wouldn’t affect the narrative.

There are a lot of pyrotechnics at the start of the second half so bear that in mind if you are of a weak disposition… or just don’t want to be caught unaware. It explains where much of the budget went and why back projection and the stairwells are the major props for most of the run time of the musical.

We then have the aftermath of the crashed flight. The stairwells are overturned and the soldiers are scattered across the stage. The audience hardly had time to take everything in. Personally I was focused on the conflict of Isabelle slowly walking across the front of stage with her back to the German youth who is begging her for some crumb of information so he can return without risk of execution (implied rather than explicitly stated) or otherwise he will have to shoot her. Isabelle doesn’t care for her own life only vengeance. He doesnt shoot her and breaks down.

A call is made to the General, via the damaged wireless, and due to poor reception it is reported John, now a Major in rank, has a ‘mortal’ not a ‘mortar’ wound but reported due to misheard think it’s mortal.

We then have a dedicated scene of the typing pool (actually the song here might occur later in a mirrored scene for Denham’s wife) who sing the generic ‘with sincere regret and apologies’ standard message they type in synchronicity ‘notices of the deceased’ letters to be sent to the families of dead soldiers and the General marches in to inform John’s wife of the erroneous news.

Then we have the most jarring scene of the entire musical. One of John’s men has bad nerves and is shaking severely. One soldier suggests having  a cup of tea to John’s disbelief. Suddenly the shivering soldier, miraculously recovered, shows he brought everything to make tea including a tin mug. John admonishes him saying that only what was absolutely necessary was to be brought. “But tea is essential” the soldier chimes back. What about everyone else then? asks John, at which point all of them produce their own tin cups and an extra one for their leader. A bit of humour during a tense moment. Personally I just found it jarring enough already but then…

In the middle of a stand off battle on the bridge where a tank is heading towards them the  soldiers sing about tea! What the hell? Then to one side the typing pool ladies also sing about having a cup of tea. We are British therefore we worship tea obviously. In the American version they would sing about coffee, the German version beer and the Russian version vodka it goes without saying. It is so out of place in tone it is almost surreal. I have to assume this happened in real life as this would otherwise be such a demonstration of inept understanding of narrative tone as to be insulting. It is the tone of the song more so than its subject matter though. Having a small comfort; be it tea, a keepsake of a loved one, talking of happier things, etc could be so much better implemented. in such odds it would be understandable a solider wanted some such catharsis but it could have been far better dealt with than a big fun music hall like jaunty tune of ‘tea is great, tea is the best, we love tea, its better than the rest’ song in the middle of a battle field. Reality is stranger than fiction.

Back to bridge n explosives guy does a solo while telling us his life story. He is a goner you think but no the damaged rocket device doesn’t blow him up. We then get a back projected tank image burst into flames while some more pyrotechnics go off. They notice someone was inside and one soldier runs off, against John’s orders, to save the boy. It turns out he saved the German  youth from earlier and so he is taken prisoner.

Isabelle and the nurse are both prisoners tied to a bed after being captured by the German General. The German Officer wants to shoot them but he is denied as the German General tells him that they are like birds protecting their nest and cannot be hated for this so he intends to keep them here until after the nearby battle. He begins the title song ‘Only The Brave Forgive’ and this is echoed by John during one of this musical’s simultaneous scenes. This is an immensely powerful piece and that it is the German General, not a member of the Allied Forces, makes it all the more powerful.

Although the musical plays up much to the patriotism of its influences at least in this regard it does the right thing. The German General and youth represent conscious human beings swept up in the globally genocidal machinations of their high command. The General brings to mind the respect that Rommel, the Desert Fox, gained from Allied Forces for being a humane and professional officer who ignored orders to kill indiscriminately. Whether this is more myth than fact is disputable but certainly it seems this post-war image of a noble enemy is present in the General’s depiction here. He and the youth (and by extension possibly it could be inferred the youth’s father) are still able to see the human beings they are fighting, and who have a right to oppose them, rather than an target that is to be destroyed under the justification they are just following orders from their authority figures.

However Isabelle cannot forgive. She intends to kill the German officer.For some could completely ruin the moment as it happens far too quickly after the previous song and we as an audience have not had time to process the proceeding moment. She is meant to be the contrast to John, Denham, the enlisted German youth (arguably) and the German General – they can forgive but she cannot. Not because she is a woman, as seems implied by the depiction of the British women, but because she does not have the perspective the soldiers have. They are men fighting in a foreign country and when they go home the barren, ash covered, landscape of the battlefield will be far behind them. They can look to their homelands while she is here, in the battle zone. This land which was once her home is now a burning hell of mortar fire, soldiers and death. She is as the German General describes a bird protecting its nest from invaders and should not be thought any less of for doing so. Another aspect of the forgiveness aspect I feel it quickly glanced over at the end is that we are seeing the recollections of John as a hospitalised old man and he met the German General in his later years so this is a reflection on his experiences not an unbiased presentation, even if glamourised and patriotic, of events. At the time he probably wasn’t as forgiving as depicted in the show but in time gained perspective.

The German officer seems to serve the role of ‘evil’ German as he is given no real character beyond following the party line and his orders – however this is as much as any of the other secondary characters so arguably he is in line with the caricatures we are otherwise presented with.

 Before the fly over the English General says he always thought the French were good people because of the useful intel he received which aids the war effort and saved men’s lives. So this character is redeemed I suppose. He seemed more of a mockable figure than anything.

Isabelle and Madame Vion tell each other their names as they had never done so before. This is a major turning point in Isabelle’s narrative as it is the first time she has shown confidence in another albeit someone who already knew her tragic history.

Hold onto your hats because the last sequence is so chaotic you will only be focusing on one thing. Isabelle intends to escape by grabbing the German Officers gun. During this struggle we simultaneously have this event, the Unit B soldiers at bridge in a fire fight,, John’s wife wanders about with baby. Stuff happens. Isabelle is shot and the German Officer runs off stage never to be seen again. Denham dies of his mortar neck wound and John throws the German youth to the ground wanting to execute him in revenge but cannot allow himself to do it no matter how torn apart he is by his friend’s death and let’s the boy go.  Then the wives in the typing pool know the operation was a success. John’s wife finds out he survived but Denham’s wife knows hers didn’t. They seemed to want to mirror the female characters but… it doesn’t work for a number of reasons.

Then immediately we are given a post log saying what happened to the real life people and the Old John comes back on as a bookend closing the narrative. ‘Welshy and Baines I don’t think are mentioned… so both of them were fictional then. The window washer/heavy arms guy just kind of snuck up in the second act as a notable character in Unit B…

The actors all take their bows. They come on a second time and the old man with no lines and on stage for all of 4 minutes gets a bigger applause than the actors who have been doing very physical work throughout. One of the women wanted to come out and take one more round of bows but the others wouldn’t come back out. That’s sad. This is the first night and its at Wales’ major theatrical venue… they got less of a response than a poorly received and performed middle of the road safe humour play with an actor decades out of relevance (Yes I am thinking of a particular play so don’t take this as my general view on showing appreciation to seasoned performers but the cast and production staff for Only The Brave deserved far more of a recognition considering the mammoth task they took on)

So… Welsh guys always late in training and the operation compared to the Englishmen so he is a mockable caricature. Lots of the moving staircases to the point it feels like they spent more time on choreographing that than refining the pacing of the story. The transitions and simultaneous acting out of differing scenes means the audience hasn’t a chance to absorb anything. Personally I focused on the Isabelle parts as this feels like where the production if further refined should  focus itself more. Show us the work of the French resistance and how they are not the mockable ‘cheese eating surrender monkeys’ that so often get depicted in American and British films.

Summary Review

Despite everything critical I have said this is a production worth seeing. It is in its infancy and WMC’s first home produced musical. I feel the setting of a World War 2 military operation was perhaps a bit too ‘safe’ a subject matter to adapt but if this is what is needed for them to gain their footing and move onto more daring matter in future I welcome it. The music is hit or miss for the most part barring the end of the first half, the ‘We Regret to inform you’ song and the title song ‘Only The Brave Forgive’. Nothing is perfect on opening night and I think with time with a few adjustments to pacing and considerations  towards how to meld it into a single coherent narrative rather than 3 which simultaneously occur this production has the potential to be a long runner. Remember Les Miserables and many other classics were damned when they first came out but in time found their groove, made the necessary adjustments to pacing and even removing or replacing songs before hitting their stride. This was a big undertaking and everyone involved should be credited for taking what is a historic moment in Wales’ Arts history. I am glad I saw it and hope to see it again years from now when they have had time and perspective to reflect what works and what needs adjusting. And now to end of some trite line like professional journalists…. ‘Only the brave forgive’ but there is no need to with this excellent, if currently flawed, production.


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Barb Jungr at St Donats Art Centre

Held at St Donats Art Centre on 10th May 2015 – http://www.stdonats.com/

Barb Jungr accompanied by Simon Morris on the Piano – http://www.barbjungr.com/

Barb Jungr (born 9 May 1954) is an English singer-songwriter, composer and writer, of Czech and German parentage. She is known as a chansonnière, or singer of chansons—in the sense of classic, lyric-driven French songs; in the broader sense of European songs in the cabaret style; and in the even broader sense of a diverse range of songs interpreted in this style. She has become best known for her work with, or “interpretations” of, the songs of Bob Dylan. A song-stylist incorporating jazz and blues, her approach often includes radical re-readings of known writers as well as original material.

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The performance was held at St Donats Art Centre, formerly Tithe Barn of the historical St. Donat’s Castle, within the modern glass walled bar area of the art centre on a small stage, looking out towards the shoreline. I had assumed it was going to be in the barn stage area but the slowly dying light of day outside was a very pleasant backdrop to any performance and the house lights increased in accordance without being intrusive. They also lit one or two tea light candles on some tables but not all. It didn’t really add anything when you have the sunset in the background.

The seating was cabaret style so it was 4 chairs around each table. Somehow, though we booked the tickets all together, they had 2 people on one table and another on a separate table. In fact the couple who walked in after us forced us off the table we were sat at! Poor seating arrangement as it wasn’t a sold out performance and there were 4 or 5 tables left empty at the back. The barn would have been far more appropriate for it as it and has cabaret seating too at other performances I have attended here.

At the bar they said they didn’t have orange juice and offered an orange tango instead! But I had a tea so that’s beside the point…

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Disabled access: Although there is an art gallery on a higher floor there is easily available access for all events for anyone using wheelchairs or otherwise unable to use stairs. Both the bar area and the barn are ground floor so there should be no difficulty of access. Also there was a guy sat on one of the front tables with, I believe, autism who got concerned as he and the pianist as they were both named Simon. At one point he called out saying “My name’s Simon and you are Simon. But I am Simon… Hello.” Barb dealt with him well by making a comment on how there are so many people in the world and we can share names with others which is wonderful. So That was very skilfully dealt with by her I felt and helped him feel included in proceedings without there being a delay in the performance, and most importantly, him becoming worried and upset. Three times he had to go away with his aunt/grandmother but it didn’t disrupt proceedings. I felt a little sad for him although I think he was enjoying as he moved his hand in time with the music and Barb (and of course Simon the piano player) said hello thus dispelling what could have been a bit of a tense moment for them as an unexpected disruption. Professionalism like that should be commended.

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Review: I went in blind as I was told it was Cohen/Dylan songs and that was all I knew. The medleys were okay but due to her singing style, where she put emphasis in odd places and gesticulated in a very awkward way, it was really off putting. If she had been accompanied by more than just Simon on the piano I think it would have worked far better than what was the final performance. Also she seemed overly casually dressed and considering the tickets were £15 I would expect the performer to not look like they just stepped off the field from Glastonbury. Bitchy but the ticket price was too high for what we got from the venue and performance. I actually felt that if this were in a theatre or there were more people I would have left during the intermission – which at least one of the tables towards the front actually did. I didn’t like the re-imagining of ‘First We Take Manhattan’ which I have always really liked. They did a slower version of it, and in concept I have always thought that doing the song that way would be very effective (though the point of the song is that instrumentally it’s meant to be very upbeat, with a fast tempo, contrasting with the lyrics’ darker tone) but somehow it just didn’t ‘click’ with me… The way they did it though it was like karaoke… This is very rare for me to totally dislike an event but I cannot deny that sadly I did not enjoy and it was not based solely on not liking Barb’s singing but the overall experience as noted above with the seating and service at the bar. Simon was good in accompanying Barb but as mentioned previously there is only so much you can do as the sole instrumental accompaniment. It just wasn’t my thing on the night and apart from two students, who snuck onto a back table during the second half, I was the youngest there by 25 years easily. I’m sure Barb is far better in the right venue with the right accompaniment so this really felt like it was ‘local gig’ level not a professional.

It’s a very nice venue and doesn’t get much support. Although they consider themselves rural they do get many good acts there but really don’t seem to be able to penetrate the market due to bigger and more central venues drowning them out though you will find similar acts passing through. From the posters I saw signed on the walls they do have acts I would really like to see e.g. the Webb Sisters. I chalk it up as one bad experience and will be checking their site out again for future events. I have been here before and gone in the barn stage area just off the entrance and certainly feel Barb would have done better in there as it is more intimate and suitable for an act like hers compared to the quite large bar area looking out on the shoreline which seems more suited for a more ‘get up and dance’ friendly band performance.

Acapela Studio, Pentyrch, Cardiff: Concert Reviews

Over the past few months I have gone to Acapela studios to see some musical talent but kept putting off posting the reviews. Therefore what you read below was the reaction at the time immediately after the event. So this could be considered as an overview of the venue via the 3 short reviews of concerts I went to there.

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  • Shan Cothi featuring the Nidum Ensemble & Guests 26/02/2015
  • Catrin Finch’s Launch of her Album ‘Waves’ 19/03/2015
  • Frank Hennessy – Welsh Folk Singer   17/04/2015

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The performances were all held at Pentyrch’s Acapela Studios: a converted Welsh chapel which she bought with her husband Hywel Wigley in 2005. They renovated it into a recording studio and music venue due to the acoustics it offered.

http://www.acapela.co.uk/

Capel Horeb, Heol Y Pentre, Pentyrch, Cardiff CF15 9QD

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It’s an excellent venue acoustically and there are many interesting, eclectic, acts performing there throughout the year and it deserves all the support it can get as the ticket prices are very reasonable, if not cheap, in comparison with many other local venues considering the extremely high quality of acts it attracts.

My only real criticism is that if they are going to have a bar they need to invest in a fridge or some cooling device as having room temperature drinks, charged at the premium price you expect from larger venues, seems unfair to the patrons supporting it. Parking in the area may be awkward the first time you attend an event so make sure to arrive a bit early in case you have to park a bit further away than desired due to the location being in a residential area.


Shan Cothi featuring the Nidum Ensemble & Guests
26/02/2015

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A fun, light hearted, evening and great atmosphere with a good audience turn out.

Performing were: Shan Cothi (Classical singer and host of Bore Cothi on Radio Cymru), Wynne Evans (The Go Compare Tenor), Rebecca Evans (Opera Diva – Not Wynne’s wife though the joke about it), Catrin Finch (Official Harpist to the Prince of Wales from 2000 to 2004) and the 4 person string quartet of the (12 person strong) Nidum Ensemble.

Wynne mocked Shan, Rebecca and Catrin in a song he made up. Mostly the evening was a preview of Shan’s new album, a composition from Katrin’s new album and, amongst other pieces, 4 compositions by Ennio Morricone.

‘Big Dai’ Watkins, a lyricist, sat in front of me and kept turning around telling me ‘this is a good one’ and had one of those distinctly Welsh senses of humour saying at the start of the second half ‘How you liking the concert so far? Been to worse…’ It was nice to meet people like that there due to the really informal, friendly, atmosphere.

When singing they would be stood up on the pulpit while the musicians were on the floor beneath it. Along with the string quartet were a piano and harp (maybe also another cello I wasn’t sure from where I was sat on the evening).

The crowd was a wide mix of age ranges though seemed to be composed of many familiar with the musical arts scene in Wales. There was a boisterous energy amongst the audience and it really contributed to what were already energetic performances.

Interior wise: Floor boards are bare. I can see where the plaster has shrunk away from the skirting rail. The pews are still all there and more seating upstairs in the balcony area similar to the church in St Fagan. A very cosy atmosphere where it seemed everyone knew each other. There is a very modern looking bar in the vestry which seemed out of keeping with the retained aesthetic of the chapel room itself. Drinks sat in their bottles on the bar. No ice in the drinks. I hate room temperature drinks especially if you charge the going ‘musical performance venue’ rate for them.


Catrin Finch’s Launch of her ‘Waves’ Album
19/03/2015

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There was a composer on before Catrin who I think wasn’t very experienced in giving performances as he tripped up when performing his own compositions a few times unfortunately. Sadly I forgot his name but it was hopefully a positive experience for him and did contribute to setting the tone for Catrin later on.

There was a good turnout. There were some cushions available for those who needed them as the chapel pews could get uncomfortable after a while. There is a small step that has some warning tape on it but plenty still stumbled on it due to the space the raised platform took up. There were 4 reserved pews on the left side in front of me but I don’t know if VIPs actually attended as they seemed to remove the reserved signs a few minutes before the start so people who had been milling around looking for seats could actually sit down. It is quite cold when you first arrive but after a while, due to the body heat of the assembled audience and lighting, it will be very warm. They film and photograph all the performances but I don’t know where they use the recordings. The drinks at the bar are expensive and served at room temperature as they seem to have no chiller or ice box on the premises…

After an intermission Catrin took to the stage with a string quartet (plus a double bassist who had to be sat on ground level behind the raised stage) with a hipster DJ sound engineer wearing a fedora with full ginger beard up on the pulpit using an Apple mac.

She played a number of songs from her new album Waves (about to be released), a song in dedication to the events of Capel Celyn (a community was forced from their homes so their valley could be flooded in order to provide water for Liverpool in England http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capel_Celyn) and the song she composed for Water Aid. At one point in the middle of the concert she stopped and said she was now going to play Debussey’s Clair De Lune as it was her favourite. It seemed out of keeping with the other more experimental music.

It was enjoyable but also quite austere as Catrin herself appears to be during performances – however that seems to be the established tone for many classical concerts as the performers need to focus and traditionally they have always been far more formal than other events which sadly may deter some from attending due tothe stigma it is for the elite of society. The songs are very atmospheric but not immediately memorable to my ear. It may be a case I just need to hear them a few more times to be more familiar with them as, unlike much of popular music, it is not rely upon a clear ‘hook’ to maintain your memory of them later as an earworm. I will revist the music in future as there was definitely something there in the composition that makes me want to hear them again. It’s a good venue for bands, etc, but the bar area needs to be sorted out if they want to host more events in future. As the chapel is in a residential area you need to turn up quite early to find anywhere to park nearby.

The crowd was composed of the sort you would expect at a classical concert so there was a good, respectful, tone all round and I enjoyed the concert thoroughly.


Frank Hennessy – Welsh Folk Singer
17/04/2015

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Frank Hennessy – Guitar. a Welsh folk singer and BBC Wales radio presenter.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Hennessy

Accompanied by:
Iolo Jones- Violinist
Dave Burns – Mandolin

He does a mix of Celtic folk music and a few of his own compositions which are Cardiff-centric including ‘Cardiff born, Cardiff bred’. By his own admission you will enjoy it more if you are drunk and he encouraged everyone to get as drunk as they could during the interval as they would enjoy it more then. However he was saying this to the Pentyrch crowd and freely admitted they were not his usual crowd. Catrin Finch was there with one of her young daughters who fell asleep in her mother’s arms during the second half having played with one of the folding cushions for a while. It reminded me of when I was little and had to keep myself physically stimulated during live performances that ran for, what seems an eternity to a young child, about an hour per part of the performance.

It was good if you were drunk and had a boisterous crowd. It’s good if you like classical ballad of troubadours. There was a bit too much telling of bad jokes and ‘where I got this song from’ between songs for me but that is part of the experience as the whole style of folk singer performances. It wasn’t my kind of thing ultimately but then I had an ear ache which may have detracted from the expeirence at no fault to the performers.

It was a clearly much older crowd than the other events thoguh still very enthusiastic to sing, clap or stamp along when asked. I would say if you know who Max Boyce is and like his stuff then you will like Frank Hennessy too.


As an extra you will see Wynne Evans and Frank Hennessy during this video singing Calon Lan.

… my ear ache is clearing up not that it matters. It is one of the few things where I fully agree with young children’s overt reaction to it unlike getting a bump or scraping a knee it really it debilitating when it is at its harshest point.

The Harri-Parris: The Big Day

A Welsh farmer’s daughter brings her English fiancé back to meet her rural West Wales community and family leading to a number of misunderstandings and hilarity ensuing the day before their wedding.

The Harri-Parris are a West Walian farming family. Hilarious and dysfunctional, they love nothing more than having visitors round. And that’s you! Anni, the farm’s only daughter, is getting married and so the Harri-Parris want to celebrate the big day with you. Well, not the actual big day, they’re not made of money. How about the night before? The night they’re going to meet Anni’s new English, vegetarian, indie musician fiancé for the first time. What could possibly for [sic] wrong? Dust off your posh hats and join the Harri-Parris for a thoroughly entertaining evening of songs, stories and cake. Lots of cake.

Mai oh Mai productions and Little Wander in partnership with Chapter and the Torch Theatre presents: The Harri-Parris: The Big Day

Script and songs by Llinos Mai
Directed by Owen Lewis

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Cast:

Llinos Mai – Anni: The only daughter of the Harri-Parri family. Actor, writer, director and farmer’s daughter. Wrote this play and the first outing of the Harri-Parris entitled The Harri-Parris: The Leaving Do.

Rhian Morgan – Mrs Harri-Parri: Widowed, overbearing, matriarch of the family and proud member of the ‘Not the Welsh W.I.’ (Played Anne Jenkins in Tir, Susan in Stella and Sian Blathwaite in August, Anthony Hopkin’s adaption of Anton Chekov’s Uncle Vanya back in 1996 which I saw when I was very little in the New Theatre, Cardiff).

Dan Rochford – Ifan: Anni’s terse brother who runs the farm day to day. (He played the role of Dean in Hinterland / Y Gwyll for two episodes). [My personal favourite character of the show but each one has their qualities contributing the the ensemble piece].

Rhys Ap Trefor – Deiniol: The camp cousin to the Harri-Parri siblings acting as the wedding planner (Huw in the Torchwood episode ‘Countrycide’) [The role was played by Rhydian Jones in The Leaving Do and he features in the promotional video for The Big Day though for whatever reason has been replaced and it may only have been temporarily as far as I am aware though Ap Trefor does an excellent job so you would never think he was replacing someone else in the role].

Oliver Wood – Ben: Anni’s English fiancé (Who you may recognise as Charlie Jenkins from Boyd Clack’s comedy series High Hopes).

For those expecting to see Gareth Wyn Griffiths who played Branek, a Slovakian seasonal farm worker in ‘The Leaving Do’, he does not return to reprise his role but that is understandable as the character was a seasonal worker who would have moved on and perhaps, as a foil to the previous play’s events, would not have added anything to the proceedings of this play and was replaced in the four person ensemble with the character of Mrs Harri-Parri.

The light hearted narrative is a simple to follow one of a farm daughter bringing her finance to her home for the first time and the dissonance which arises from the perceptions everyone has based on the lies Anni has told and the realities when they finally meet. The Harri-Parris meet him in traditional national dress with a song, playing an accordion, before laying out a lavish buffet, “Go on have a bit… have a bit more… bit more? Go on!”, but Anni and Ben have already eaten at the service station before arriving (and everyone in the community knows they have as Mrs Harri-Parri relates who spotted them where and when… There and no secrets in the close knit community of Llanlai). Anni has told her family that her fiancé, Ben, is a sky diving, charity working, man-amongst-men when in reality he is a vegetarian indie musician. This of course riles the farming, animal slaughtering, family who soon drive him to fainting during a musical number where they place him on the table and ritualistically gut him as if he were a chicken. Other issues include Ifan slaughters a pig in the downstairs toilet ruining Anni’s wedding dress, Ben’s mother had made a wedding cake that, safe to say, is not to Mrs Harri-Parri’s expectations and inevitably there is a fall out.

The Harri Parris The Big Day

The stage layout is very tight perhaps due to Chapter’s small stage area but there is no sense it is overly compacted but rather lends itself to a realistic dimension for the kitchen area of a farmhouse. To the rear on either side are doors: on the left it leads out into the farm’s courtyard and on the right further into the house. On the rear wall are the rosettes the family have won at farming contests, probably the Royal Welsh Show, while a drum kit, electric guitar and bass sit beneath them.

On the left is the cooking stove filled with a turkey and all the food. In front of this is the telephone say on a small podium which Mrs Harii-Parri goes to throughout the play to gossip, in Welsh (although its Pobl-Y-Cwm Welsh so there is nothing lost as you will easily pick up what she is saying even if you’ve no knowledge of the Welsh language as its about what has just occurred on stage). Just off centre of the stage is the kitchen table and a few chairs.

On the right is the Welsh dresser sideboard (display cabinet for anyone not familiar with this piece of furniture) in which the ruined wedding dress is hidden unsuccessfully, a piano used during most musical pieces and the chair in which Ifan often sits reading a tractor magazine when not involved in immediate events.

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There is a little bit of audience interaction once or twice during the performance early on in terms of the cast pretending people are members of the local community. The pretence is that we, the audience, have been invited en masse to come celebrate the event and are all members of the local Llanlai community. As long as you are not in the front two or so rows there is nothing to be concerned about if you do not like this sort of thing. Most of the humour here is of the ‘no you didn’t invite that person did you!’ variety with some being the gossipy women of the community who Mrs Harri-Parri doesn’t like, Anni’s past boyfriends (some whom Ifan invited as they are his friends though he clearly gets some mocking pleasure from inviting them) and one lady who gets the pleasure of being Ifan’s girl that he is seeing (and will proceed to gesture at during one or two moments later). During this point the house lights will be up but they are few and far between and a natural continuation of the previous Leaving Do play where they actually handed chocolate cake out apparently (they do not hand out cake during The Big Day) but it helps the ‘world building’ of the setting. Of course it may be that the people selected were ones the production knew I cannot hazard a guess. Personally I don’t like audience interaction but as it was restrained to the front few rows it was fine and something to be expected if you chose to sit there.

Before going in you are handed a Llanlai newsletter which aids in the world building and serves as a one page list of the people involved in the production in one column. It’s free so that was a nice, unexpected, bonus of Welsh humour to get you in the mood.

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The approximately 90 minute performance, with no interval, has a few bits of dialogue in Welsh but these are for the most part supplemental and all the key dialogue is done in English with a few Wenglish-isms. As mentioned Mrs Harri-Parri speaks on the phone in Welsh but these are easily followed and concern the immediately preceding events of the play.

There are musical sequences involving agriculturally lyrical R&B, indie guitar anthems, wistful balladry, rap and even one song involving Bollywood styled bhangra choreography.

The seating in Chapter was ‘first come first served’ with no seating allocation so if you go to anything there best make sure your are on the door early ready to go in and get your choice of seat. The stage is less than a metre in front of the front row so preferably gets seats about 3 rows back if you want to have seats similar to the front rows of other, more traditional, theatre venues. I didn’t notice any issue with leg room unlike other venues and only now, when writing this, realise it wasn’t an issue unlike other locations I have been. I have to assume the misspelling in the promotional blurb (highlighted in blod above) was intentional…

The play is quite straightforward in its humour and music but it is one of the first ones Llinos Mai has written and I think given time she will develop a more distinct voice and can be considered to be testing the waters as this play is more theatrical compared to the more musical based The Leaving Do. Certainly the BBC is willing to invest in her as soon there will be 3 episodes of The Harri-Parris Radio Show on BBC Radio Wales soon. In a comparison Boyd Clack started in a very similar vein with Satellite City which began as a radio show on BBC Radio Wales so if all goes well this may be the start of some big things and Llinos Mai becoming a big name in Welsh comedy!

It was a very enjoyable evening and Chapter is a good venue for new, inventive, shows. The big question is would I go see this again? Yes without question but more importantly it makes me want to see more from not just Llinos Mai but also everyone else involved in the production and I can think of no greater compliment to pay them than that. I am really looking forward to hearing more from the Harri-Parris on BBC Radio Wales and will be keeping an eye out for the nativity based third entry in the series when it comes around.

http://www.theharriparris.co.uk/

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A delay to the promised A View From The Bridge as the last performance of The Big Day is tonight and from the sounds of it has been sold out every night which is good to hear!

I wonder if there is a recording of The Leaving Do somewhere online. I tend to see things being recorded but never know where these recordings go afterwards. To some archives somewhere but it seems a shame to do that in this day and age even if you had to charge a small fee to view the recording.

Disney’s Frozen: Commentary, Observations And The Effects of the Song Changes on the Film’s Narrative

So of course there are many reviews of this film by now and they have by now covered the same points and statistically will have use the exact same wording unintentionally due to the limited number of words in the language to articulate their views. It is inevitable with such a major success. Even by social osmosis if you haven’t seen the actual film itself you can probably tell someone the general story and key points of the narrative and so reviews are redundant.

I think wouldn’t it be better to have a bit of a running commentary and observations about things? Really get that person’s perspective on it. I find reviews tend to become formal no matter how informal they begin and the reviewer feels the need to get certain points across but a commentary, especially on some DVDs, is like a side story and gives you a glimpse behind the curtain of either the creation process or, by a third party, their mind set. I know on Youtube there are a few people who create their own commentaries to be run while you simultaneously watch the film so I thought maybe I could try that for a blog entry. So here, with very little editing as I couldn’t remember Kristoff’s name and called him ‘THE BOY’ throughout, are my typed observations on a second watching of Frozen. I include where certain deleted scenes would have been so you can get a better idea of where the story changed over the production time but obviously it can never be 100% accurate.


Vuelie (The opening chanting) – sounds quite African/Native American in rhythm but presumably is Scandinavian… it doesn’t fit with the music of the rest of the film and only reoccurs when Elsa’s magic recedes. Is it to act as a bookend indicating ‘the magic has arrived’ and ‘the magic is fading’? A bit of research and the answer is: “Vuelie” is the opening music inspired by indigenous Saami and Scandinavian culture written and composed by Norwegian composer Frode Fjellheim. The song is a combination of Saami yoiking and the Danish Christmas hymn “Dejlig er jorden” (“Fairest Lord Jesus”) composed by Frode Fjellheim. The original hymn is composed by the Danish composer B.S. Ingemann. It appears to be the only lingering openly-Christian element of the film, as other Christian imagery (such as the crosses on the Bishop’s mitre and Elsa’s scepter and crucifer and the banner of Joan of Arc) was removed.

Frozen heart’ song – it reminds me of the music from ‘Paint Your Wagon’ manly men singing musical numbers in chorus as they do hard labour. We are introduced to Kristoff as a little boy and Sven the littlest reindeer. It occurs to me on a second viewing that we see him here with a number of men, as if brought to work by his father, but why is he later alone and raised by trolls if he had a community here? It feels like there is a plot hole here that is never addressed. Potentially Disney wants to leave such a thing in case they need an excuse to make a sequel since the main narrative is resolved except for the origins of Elsa’s powers. Perhaps then Kristoff’s search for his real parents, if he is not implied to be an orphan though I saw no evidence of this, could be the third of a trilogy if they ever chose to go down such a route? It would however paint the trolls as negative figures rather than the cute, if pushy, figures we meet in the ‘Fixer-upper’ song if they ever addressed this. For all we know there was a cut sequence where Kristoff also loses his parents but having two parent loss sequences within the space of 10 minutes was deemed far too dark a tone to establish. At least the song serves the role of an overture to introducing the tone of the film and concept of a frozen heart.

What is the age difference between the sisters? Elsa seems larger than Anna when little so perhaps 1 to 2 years? The deleted song ‘We Know Better’ suggests maybe 3 to 4 years. This song would have been effective in establishing how close the sisters are but it seems tonally out of place with the scenes that would have surrounded it of gruff ice cutters and the parents’ death and the sisters’ remorse. A shame as it is a very nice song. Potentially it could have served to make the ‘injury’ scene a bit more tragic and impactful but the start of the film isn’t too badly affected by its omission however the reference to doing things together later would in itself have really established the message of the story’s narrative where they overcome their differences and achieve this in the end. If anything it makes Elsa more sympathetic as we see how much she dotingly adores Anna and how upset she is by hurting her and how great a divide is created between them by the time of ‘Do You Want To Build A Snowman’.

Where Elsa’s magic comes from is never discussed unless you watch the television series ‘Once Upon A Time’ where the central characters guest star. However I have not seen that part of the series myself and cannot comment on the quality of the storyline and only saw a brief synopsis of it involving an aunt with the same powers who was an ‘evil snow queen’ more in line with Hans Christian Andersen’s original character. Is that story line considered in canon with the film’s universe then? It at least could justify why we only see or hear the father being the one to condemn the magic while his wife… I am not sure if she has any lines of dialogue or if she does they are inconsequential but she does not challenge his decisions openly.

Troll prologue sequence – The film would have been better served not having this aspect revealed until much later when we meet the trolls again and so maintain a mystery regarding Elsa’s flashbacks and how things became as they are. It serves to comfort a first viewing audience but then dilutes the narrative in doing so by over explaining the situation. We do not learn alongside Anna, who is the focal protagonist, but are already established to understand things now from Elsa’s perspective all too easily. Had they just introduced that Elsa had powers and had hit Anna by accident, explaining her repression, especially after it being one of the last requests by her parents prior to their untimely death, then skipping to the ‘Do You Want To Build A Snowman’ song sequence the narrative would be more compelling. We would be lead to assume that Elsa chose to isolate herself without reason thus ‘freezing her heart’ by not letting her sister in but due to the prologue we know of the amnesia and more importantly the reason for Elsa’s self imposed isolation which instead of being cold is in a sense an act of self-sacrifice to protect her sister from her though it hurts them both. The troll woman says she will keep Kristoff and Sven – so they were kidnapped from the previously established community but this aspect is never addressed! As I mentioned this is something never really addressed nor justified and is a dark undertone regarding the otherwise comical trolls. There is a nice moment where they introduce the ‘proto-Olaf’ and I wonder if his original design was more in line with this version. As is common in such films due to miscommunication certain things are misunderstood. If Grand Pabbie explained himself properly the film wouldn’t occur as Elsa would embrace her powers immediately and learn to work with them. The old troll just needed to say ‘embrace your powers’ but no instead he words it in such a way the parents misinterpret it. And it seems to be the father making the decisions and wanting it hidden… I do question, with the addition of the ‘Once Upon A Time’ story arc if there were any previous plans to establish the origins of Elsa’s powers? In the later story it is established it comes from the mother’s bloodline but at no point do we see any hint of her being involved in the decision. Ultimately patriarchy still reigns though the film has been marketed as a more feminine orientated film.

Do You Want To Build A Snowman’ – This song sequence is very effective in setting up the dynamic between the sisters but unfortunately what we are presented with here and the coronation scene immediately after creates a contrast in our perceptions of what the sisters relationship actually is. At the coronation as we then get the impression Elsa hasn’t been completely isolated but watching this song sequence implies she remained completely isolated for the next 3 years before the coronation similar to Beast in ‘Beauty and the Beast’ keeping one wing of the castle for himself to be isolated and telling Belle never to enter (which inevitably she does). The coronation implies they do spend some time together as they are not completely formal when speaking with each other, uncomfortable certainly, but not formal. The parents’ death is well done in the nonverbal style seen most memorably in Pixar’s ‘Up‘, during the setup of Carl’s life story with his wife prior to her death, before the current day events of the film. Personally to me this is the strongest song of the film as we are told so much of the characters’ relationship in so brief a time and that there is a mutual affection shaded by Elsa’s sense of guilt which Anna is not aware of. The visuals also strongly enforce the narrative as, although Anna is upbeat and extrovert, we see her running around empty hallways seeking any companionship, even paintings, to pass the time when in other scenes we see a number of servants around populating the palace. In the closing moments of this sequence we see the sisters on either side of the closed door mirroring each other to indicate that they are in the same situation. The staging non-verbally illustrates Elsa reflecting her sister’s desire to be together but the barrier, represented by the opaque door, remains in place though Elsa could remove it if she desired to. More so the final image, Elsa curled up by the door, subtly indicates to the audience that she is introverted and restraining herself there are snowflakes drifting in the air just as when she later loses control of her emotions her powers act out on her behalf and immediately it fades into Anna sat in the exact same position but not hiding herself by curling up thus reinforcing that she is the open, more extrovert, sister. Also as it fades from Anna at the funeral between the gravestone monoliths to her walking down the halfway to Elsa’s door it is again non-verbally enforced she is the protagonist more so that her sister (who originally was the be the villain until decisions during the production process). Elsa is not present at the funeral which we can justify in the narrative as ‘she was in too much grief for a public appearance’ though we are aware of the more likely reason as this is defintely a point where off screen she woud be unable to control her powers, and we only see a glimpse of what her room looks like during this time at the end of the song, but it feels as though we should be accepting that this isolation exists for the next 3 years in the story but this doesn’t appear the case in the next part.

Spring Pageant (Deleted Song) –  In early versions the writer’s intended there to be a prophecy where the kingdom would be brought down by someone with Ice magic. I presume that the film would then frame much of Weselton’s comments about sorcery and monster within this frame work by claiming Elsa is the realisation of this come to pass. There is a song where a teacher and his class would be performing the ‘Spring Pageant’ song detailing to the audience what the prophecy is. From the end of the track it suggests this takes place just before the ballroom scene as they refer to ‘Queen Elsa’. Potentially it could have opened the film instead of the ‘Frozen Heart’ song as I think it would fit in with ‘Vuelie’. Tonally it has a more traditional part in the middle and would have eased the audience into why her parents and people react to Elsa’s powers the way they do with terms like sorceress and monster being declared at her coronation.

3 Years Later – We assume Elsa was in complete isolation due to the closing imagery of the previous scene of her sat alone behind a closed door in a darkened room but the dialogue during coronation ball implies they have spent time together at some point. What sort of interaction did they have during this time? There was a deleted scene involving Anna borrowing a dress from Elsa and I think it would have helped the audience better understand them as it was a lighter scene with the two prior to the coronation showing their siblinghood but reiterating how they contrast with Anna acting before thinking and Elsa being overly restrained but interacting stoically with her sister after time has passed from the shock of their parents’ death. We see Sven and Kristoff in town sharing a carrot and selling ice. I do question how he could have been raised by the trolls yet somehow has a job as an ice carver. There is a brief moment involving a man named Percy and a girl, or his wife, bothering him about his hat. They never appear again and it just seems random and unnecessary to introduce characters who, unless used in crowd scenes, play no other role in the film. Perhaps at one point they were meant to be part of the palace community scenes but were cut? Weselton as soon as he walks on screen is talking out loud about his intentions and I found that unnecessarily heavy handed informing to the audience even in a children’s film. They could have had something like the servant announcing his arrival and him being pompous, as he is in the ballroom scene, to indicate him in a negative light as a figure of ridicule. Anna having ‘bed head’ is funny and a good contrasting of her ‘wild’ personality compared to her sisters pristine appearance. It feels like this is the sort of Anna they initially were really going to go for but in time toned her physicality down though we still get glimpses of it through the film when she sings ‘For The First Time In Forever‘ and later tries to climb a cliff face without equipment.

For The First Time In Forever’ – Another good sequence and very traditionally ‘Disney’ in style with musical flourishes. Usually this sort sequence is seen far later in Disney films so it is interesting how they mix up their own usual narrative progression by having the song much earlier in the running time. Little ducks instead of he expected songbirds we would expect to see with many Disney princesses when singing in other features to reiterate that they are a ‘friend to all living things’. The sequence as a whole shows how Anna feels restrained in her position as a princess but while girly as a princess is still very much a tomboy by nature while Elsa is willingly restrained and more mature if not womanly in her conduct both demurely early on and later on more provocatively in her attire. The juxtaposing in front of the paintings is a very nice moment illustrating Anna’s flights of fantasy to fill the days and prepares the audience for her all too quick acceptance of Hans‘ proposal as an extension of her thought process being based on romanticised notions of love. The deleted scene where Anna chases a pig, while helping to further contrast the sisters I believe was a good decision to remove as it adds nothing to the narrative which hasn’t already been demonstrated otherwise.

If anything it makes her come across as a menace to the townsfolk. The refrains of ‘Let It Go’ are good foreshadowing when we see Elsa stood alone in her room already dressed in her coronation robes waiting for the event to begin. Then it gets a bit Broadway in the ‘open up the gates’ duet moment. This sequence finishes with Hans‘ horse bumping into Anna.

I think ‘More Than The Spare’ was at some point the song meant to be at this section and ‘For The First Time In Forever’ is a far more fitting song as the spare one makes Anna a far more downbeat character than she should be when contrasting Elsa. I wonder how it would be introduced had it been included. It suggests someone called her the spare, most likely Weselton, but the butler who seems to be present in many key scenes yet has no dialogue may have at some point been the one saying it in passing to another servant unaware Anna was listening to them. It actually helps to reiterate that Anna is still as isolated as she was as a child but now can recognise it instead of making friends with the paintings. She refers to Elsa as ‘the scholar, athlete, poet,’ but at the very least athlete would be questionable and in fact conflict with the impression we have of Anna as the ‘extrovert’ sister who we see so physically active throughout the film. Of course you could read it as her displaying self-doubt by considering herself ‘the screw-up’ thus reflecting that despite their differences the sisters have common ground in their vulnerability and low self-opinion (which Anna later attempts to resolve by accepting Hans’ proposal. It has a negative defeatist kind of tone though it is meant to be uplifting in its message. She is dreaming of being better but suggests she is completely out of touch with reality (which could be quite realistic really as without the pig chasing scene there is no indication she has ever left the palace grounds) which would aid in understanding her sudden acceptance of an idealised romantic engagement but makes the audience all too aware of how dangerously naive she is to go after her sister later rather than it seeming heroic. Overall has a unfortunate negative implication of the message the song sends to children by saying ‘it’s okay to not be the best’ which would be a fair message, as seen at the end of Monsters University, except the song follows this with the implication that ‘there is nothing you can change about being the useless spare in the lives of others so just accept your place in life’. It has her question her own metaphor changing from a button to a horseshoe. Had it been included the interpretation of Hans saying ‘Sandwich’ during their duet later would not be deemed foreshadowing of him not being as synchronised with Anna as he wants her to believe and having ulterior motives. Personally I always found that a bit of a stretch in interpreting the line in the song but as I later state there is no other real foreshadowing of his true intentions before te reveal.

Citron (Hans’ horse) bumping Anna and boat tipping moment – A sudden intro of the faux love interest Hans… I actually prefer this new idea of naming the princes unlike the generic Charming, etc, in the older films. Those princes were stock narrative conventions with no personality while many of the recent ones are decent characters in their own right with Flynn/Eugene in Tangled being a great example so perhaps was seen at the time as quite jarring due to how comedy orientated he seemed compared to previous Disney leading men like Aladdin who left comedy exclusively to the sidekicks. Anna falling so quickly actually is in character for her in all version and again contrasts Elsa’s more cautious, glacial, approach to life. The dropped in the water moment while funny jars with the reveal later but does set the audience on the wrong path as villains rarely have such moments in Disney films, although in Robin Hood they were quite comical figures, so no doubt was intentional.

The Coronation – “The gloves” the minster utters insisting she takes them off but why is that a thing? I have seen rulers wearing gloves doing this? But for the sake of the film it is inevitable as a demonstration of how focused Elsa is on controlling herself and a bit of tension to foreshadow how stress causes Elsa to be unable to control her powers. I do wonder how the gloves actually help to stop it. I assume it’s actually more of a placebo effect and she could easily use her powers anyway as she does later when breaking out of imprisonment. The Old Norse chanting again feels a bit out of place as we get so little Scandinavian aspects to the film though it obviously has the overall setting of this region. I would assume the coronation induction to be conducted in Latin but that is from my own bias regarding how things are conducted for the British royal family.

The Ballroom – Why introduce Anna as well at her sister’s coronation? Presumably she would have been up there already or not as they would have practised this moment or at least discussed it. It seems to be here to except to allow them to be stood next to each other and let the audience see them interact. I again think it would be better to clarify if they had spent time together or to indicate if they remained completely separated as ‘Do You Want To Build A Snowman’ suggested the latter was the case.

Weselton’s Dance Request – I remember a one shot character once in the 1980-90s Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles animated series who had the same ‘my name is not pronounced Weasel’ characterisation… the same joke is apparently fair game 20 years later. Why does he do martial arts poses? The dancing while funny reminds me of Mr William Collins from Pride and Prejudice due to the pomposity and self-aggrandising. He is clearly not to be considered a ‘man’ in the films sense of design as not only does he have an immense comb-over covering his bald spot, which flaps when he dances, but apart from Percy (he of passing the screen with a hat concerned wife/girl) all the prominent men in the film are tall and broad shouldered. Hans changed clothes which is realistic compared to other times I have seen humour points like the boat spill where the character later appears in the same clothes (though admittedly you could argue the first set were his travelling clothes and these are his ballroom clothes). They get a surprising amount of space in the dance floor to further instil in the audience their being the focus of the moment. Anna being so quick to fall for him at least seems set up well with how absorbed in romanticised fantasy she is. This entire ‘courtship’ is well done and in accord with the similar scenes in previous classic Disney fare. Apparently the creators believed it would ‘set off alarm bells’ that this sequence occurs so early in the movie. Although Elsa was the original villain for the film as we all know the creators had a change of heart. What I find difficult to figure out though is how we were to have the following sequence and such unless Hans was initially meant to be sincere during these sequences. The creators later say that when he kisses her it doesn’t work as he only ‘likes’ her and it is not true love but I find Hans a difficult character to have in the film with this knowledge and sadly poorly implemented due to it despite the good set pieces he has throughout the film as you have to read along the lines and the lines even when you are aware of them are very weak in their suggestion of his motives. If anything is revealed then later repeated during his villain reveal it is quickly skimmed over so even now I don’t take it in and doubt a first time viewer would either.

You’re You (Deleted Song) – Originally there was a song ‘You’re You’ which is more whimsical that the eventual one used. He doesn’t let Anna get a word in and this would work better for ‘villain’ Hans as he is forcing his statement on her. Although I do not know what the imagery would be accompanying the song if it were in the film but he is serenading her in an overly complimenting saccharine way which with her naivety would work on her.

Love Is An Open Door – In the actual film we get ‘Love Is An Open Door’. The ‘sandwiches’ moment I suppose is meant to indicate they are not as ‘on the same page’ as we are otherwise led to believe but the reveal later is still too arbitrary to consider this foreshadowing of any ill intent by Hans in the finale version of the film. In the earlier ‘he just likes her’ version of the character this would indicate they are not a perfect match but he does like her and would have been a nicer moment rather than the unfortunately darker tone people have associated with a single slip up by the character saying the word sandwiches in the song. The lighthouse reminds me of ‘A Monster In Paris’ which bothers me a bit. Did they rip it off? Though of course AMIP may have been referencing something itself so I don’t think it is a directly intentional parallel.

Anna is very much in the mould of a ‘Disney’ princess so I can see how given the earlier placing of this event in the narrative compared to previous Disney films Elsa is sided with much more easily by the audience. Ironically, in hindsight, we are meant to deem this same rapid pace of relationship development, in the classic films, where this ‘meet, propose, marriage’ sequence occurs in the last ten minutes of the classics as romantic. The exchange involving the question ‘what do you know of true love’ should have had more emphasis considering the denouement later in the film regarding what is true love. This argument is very effective in portraying Elsa’s discomfort and restrained emotions, including the anger shown here, in contrast to Anna’s ‘act/speak before you think’ mentality.

Weselton – what does he hope to gain casting judgement on his trade partner so quickly? This seems a holdover from the earlier drafts involving a prophecy but in the actual film’s context makes him seem like he over reacts with such terms rather than just shock or awe as most of the supporting cast react with. And why does he wish to stop/kill her instantly? Going as far as calling her a sorcerer/monster? His men are in the colour coding black and red of ‘bad guys’ through most visual media but in truth the film’s creators seems to have at some point had difficulty as without Elsa as the villain they felt obligated to provide one. Certainly Weselton fits the mould of many secondary villains as being diminutive as arrogant while a figure of farce but otherwise it feels forced. His henchmen are in a position where they are no bigger nor intimidating than many of the other men in the film so they almost seem little more than filler roles so that we do not see depictions of Elsa’s own soldiers from Arendelle attacking her since they offer no distinctly villainous actions otherwise.

The running across the water sequence with no one able to follow is very well done and visually impressive cinematography wise. It is unfortunately at this point I think the film suddenly loses its pace and structure rapidly which is ironic as its when Elsa is about to cast everything into a severe winter. If anything they fit so much of the core narrative into this opening part of the film it feels glacial for a lot of the film afterwards until the climax. There is almost a sense of narrative burnout having covered so much ground in the story so far when much of it should have been perhaps the first half, if not three quarters, of the film.

Watching a second time – at what point are we meant to guess Hans has ulterior motives? Why lead the people in Arendelle in making sure they are protected from the sudden severe cold? Why go after Anna later? Why go ahead of the other soldiers and confront Elsa? His plan, as far as it is explained later, was more or less set to gradually succeed had he just sat back at this point and let one or the other of the sisters return. Admittedly Elsa could have potentially returned but when confronting her he had the perfect chance to eliminate her from the equation. I suppose he took her back for the drama and to be heralded a hero by punching her but again this is all aspects of his character the audience have to assume by themselves with no true foreshadowing.

Let It Go’ – Personally there is something off about the song. Initially it was meant to be a villain song and there are certain notes or cords that seem forced and at least one high note I found unpleasing. How would this have been a villain’s song when Idena Menzel first sang it? I assume the lyrics were rewritten and the tempo altered but that is all guess work. Oh she makes Olaf! It was a throw away moment but at least the creation isn’t off screen. The particle effects for the snow are excellent. I do question how she becomes so happy though. She just left behind everything she cared and sacrificed her own happiness for. This wouldn’t be a moment for thinking ‘I’m free to do as I please’ as much, according to how she has been portrayed so far, as ‘I am alone/isolated now but unable to harm others’. If anything I think this is the point the film begins to fail. For someone so dedicated to duty she just abandons it all too easily. The dress… doesn’t make internal logic to the aesthetic of the film’s setting. The sequence is a big lipped alligator moment I feel just to justify some impressive visuals and the style change of Elsa from restrained heir to sultry singing sorceress. Although it could be interpreted that without obligations Elsa is carefree to the point of ignoring her surrounding environment (or in this case the potential effect of her magic on Arendelle without her holding back) like Anna in a way. I learnt of the animator’s short cut of letting her braid pass through her left shoulder but now I know that is all I can focus on in that moment of the scene. It would have been better not to announce that even if it was interesting to know because I would like to see what the problem would have looked like when they state the braid would have crumpled like paper if they didn’t allow it to clip through her shoulder.

Anna Gives Chase – She rushes off without provisions. It’s in character but it seems the ‘cold doesn’t bother her’ either then or she is too focused to let it… which reflects Elsa’s focus in restraining her powers earlier in the film. What does Anna know of tropical things when she asks why Elsa couldn’t have had tropical powers? She doesn’t seem the sort to read, etc and wouldn’t have gone travelling to know of such things nor does she associate with anyone to be informed as far as we are aware as an audience. The dress freezes over which is funny though forcing her to have a costume change like Elsa but, in this repeated mirroring of the sisters, the new outfit is more reserved than anything she has wore previously.

Oaken’s – this scene seems randomly inserted to break up the mountain climb although it explains where Anna gets winter clothes during summertime when the film is set. Is Oaken a bit of a… caricature of Scandinavians? And his family populate the sauna… which came across a bit creepy a visual though it wasn’t intended to be. After all we don’t see the rest of the building but it sort of suggests they spend all their time in there as the building, from the front, doesn’t seem large enough for everyone to have their own room. Kristoff is introduced to Anna as surly but we have met him a few times now where he was shown to be carefree and joking around with Sven. So again, like the earlier troll sequence, less would have been more if they had chosen to omit his earlier appearances giving the audience more information than we need. Why does Sven act like a dog? I noticed that in other films aimed at kids and it seems a bad idea to give kids as they will assume all animals are approachable. It was a nice moment showing that Oaken is a man of his surroundings, who lives nowhere near people (though with his family who are all stuffed in a small sauna room) in the mountains, stands up and is a mountain of a guy thus indicating that the informal ‘yoo hoo’ welcome was him being friendly to customers, who themselves are obviously not in company, but Kristoff crossed a line in his behaviour. I like the Oaken character as he seems one of the few characters to reflect the concept of family and kindness without judgement in the film but otherwise is an easily ignored figure. I imagine if Disney ever expanded on Frozen he and his family might reappear but then I grew up watching all the Saturday morning cartoons like Aladdin where they did expanded universes for the characters. Oddly I feel the deleted scene of meeting Kristoff, perhaps set prior to Oaken’s, would have been an interesting alternative and gives a more world weary looking Sven which I would have lied to see but the one in the film gives a greater immediacy of why Anna would ally herself with Kristoff… though from that clip having a ‘I don’t care’ version of Sven with weary eyes would have been nicer compared to the ‘all animals are dogs’ version in the film proper.

Reindeer Are Better Than People’ song – This song seems to be much overlooked. Admittedly we have the acoustic version here which lasts only a minute but there was initially meant to be a longer remix version which would play over the start of the credits but… I guess they ran out of time or the actor had a schedule clash which they themselves admit was a shame.

It is a private moment between Kristoff and Sven to show their friendship and seems often forgotten when people talk of the songs from the film. I like the little interaction between him and Anna trying to seem more a capable than he is and demonstrating a bit of princess like arrogance which we don’t see otherwise further endorsing how sheltered her life is despite her being presented as the more outgoing sister. His attitude to caring for the sled, and spitting on it to shine it, is true to someone with his line of work relying on it and spending little, if any time, with other people. The interaction discussing the marriage arrangement is nice and showing Disney again acknowledging how unreal the agreement was thus knowingly acknowledging the fantastical romanticised view of love they have often portrayed in their films. My issue is he asks questions regarding how well she and Hans know each other but I doubt she knows these things about him either at the end of the film either when they kiss. Then follows a bit of a slap, slap, kiss sequence very reminiscent of 1980s films like ‘Romancing The Stone’ or the Indiana Jones film series where the protagonist and the leading lady start of in conflict before being drawn to each other romantically by facing dire situations together.

The Wolves – I wish they were a bit more of a recurring threat later on considering how much time is spent in the mountains. They could even be used to show Hans as ruthless should he have killed them in a later scene rather than only seeing them attacked in self-defence when fleeing as is the case with Kristoff and Anna. Anna’s endangering actions throwing a flaming barrel and leaping a gorge without hesitation further cement that she is a person of action not thought. Oddly I feel perhaps if she had caused Elsa to initially use her magic on purpose and cause the frozen head sequence at the start, rather than Elsa being distressed by Anna endangering herself thus becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy, it would have made more sense in regards to what later follows where in the available versions Elsa knows she has struck Anna in the heart but still forces her away (which I will further discuss at that scene). Talking for Sven… it’s a bit odd but a character trait and I can’t remember if Flynn/Eugene did the same with the animals in ‘Tangled’. It works however and is one of the things I really enjoyed in the film when it occurred as Sven made the appropriate facial gestures so for all we know the things Kristoff were saying actually were his friend’s thoughts. I assume it’s done as we move away from speaking animals in recent films but does give a sense of how lonely and a bit ‘off’ the leading men are when it is meant as an endearing character trait.

Olaf Appears – The scenery is excellent with blue and purple hues to pick out the detail of the landscape. Olaf… why has he just wandered so far from the palace? Elsa consciously made him so it seems maybe in an earlier draft he was the comedy relief sidekick to the villain like Iago for Jafar in Aladdin or the hyenas to Scar in The Lion King previously just to mention two examples. I feel sorry for any kids ever trying to make him as his head defies gravity… and no doubt someone will have made the terrible joke about ‘defying gravity’ in regards to Idena Menzel’s most famous role in ‘Wicked’…

In Summer: very nice funny song showing his naivety but Olaf does seem redundant a lot of the time later and even ruins the impact of certain moments. The seagull tap dance moment is nice. The sauna snowman bit I get the impression was a rejected design for Olaf as we see no other snowmen except Marshmallow the snow golem who no doubt is a holdover from the ‘Evil Elsa’ drafts. The moment when he says ‘and you guys will be there too’ strongly reminds me of ‘By The Sea’ from Tim Burton’s film adaption of Stephen Sondheim‘s musical Sweeney Todd which, intentional or not, I found very funny considering how inappropriate the scenes are in each of the films with Sweeney Todd sullen faced as he is consumed with his desire for revenge and the Frozen character are in full Winter wear on a sunny beach.

Back in ArendelleHans is helping people. Are we meant to be misguided by Weselton’s behaviour? I suppose so as he has the heavily built non speaking henchmen by him at all times but this suggestion of him as the villain of the story still isn’t convincing. The apparent need for a clear but villain is perhaps the weakest aspect of this film by far. You can argue Hans is just trying to give a good impression so people will be on his side later but it still rings false.

Back Walking Across the Mountain – Interesting the stalagmites grow sideways though we are not given the impression that Elsa’s powers acted like an outgoing wave but rather descended onto the land (although admittedly the spreading effect just after the Coronation would suggest they would be facing away from the direction the couple are now walking from. The impalement joke is a bit grim considering the target audience and I can’t help but think it was one of those key points which contributed to the film being a PG rated film unlike many of Disney’s other films. ‘Nobody wants to be alone’ – an interesting view for Anna to express and says more about her than her sister so is a nice subtle character building moment as she won’t let Elsa feel as she did. Anna’s inability to climb is good showing that for all her energy she is still a indoor living, palace based, princess not an outdoorsman. Going back to my previous references to the leading ladies of older action films it is interesting to see that this moment too is a subversion as often we are on the side of the gruff adventurer whose view point we have followed rather than the girl he is helping. ‘I might cry’ Kristoff admits upon seeing the ice palace and Anna replies ‘go on, I won’t judge’ which again was a very good moment of character building and challenging gender stereotypes though admittedly it’s more of a pun playing to gender roles rather than challenging them. Sven on the ice calls back to the first look trailer

Olaf and his ‘why isn’t she knocking’ question ruins the emotional impact of this moment and should have been excised as we are distracted by how Anna is faced again with a closed door by her sister and the likelihood even after her journey it will not be opened to her. The moment goes by so fast without a beat to allow her the trepidation it feels as though the creators did not have confidence that the audience could deal with this brief moment of silence in the film and needed to fill it. Then Kristoff and Olaf begin counting giving Anna time alone although I would have liked it is they had rushed in exactly at the allotted countdown time although it would have rushed Elsa and Anna’s reunion.

In The First Time In Forever [Reprise] / Life’s Too Short (Deleted Song) – This scene I know was heavily altered. There was meant to be a song, ‘Life’s Too Short’, where Anna asks her to put the gloves back on so everything goes back to normal which infuriates Elsa who now feels free and she unintentionally lashes out. if that song, viewable as a deleted scene, had occurred it would have made far more sense showing that Elsa hasn’t rejected everything and does love her sister still but when confronted with being made to hide herself again, by the person she is closest too, feels the utter rejection of her true self she has been unable to express again since childhood. The fact this sequence would have ended with Anna bursting through a shut door rather than knocking would have actually fit thematically with the knocking on the door during ‘Do You Want To Build A Snowman’ as this time she doesn’t knock and wait respecting Elsa’s boundaries and the inevitable, which Elsa had feared for years, finally occurs.

Instead we get ‘For The First Time In Forever (Reprise)’ which suggests Elsa chooses still to be isolated now she is confronted by her sister who in the other version she welcomed. Being isolated is her area of comfort which sends a sign to the audience that ‘Let It Go’ wasn’t as much about letting go of the pressures she had placed on herself as isolating herself even further than ever before as she thinks, wrongly, this is what will make everyone happy due to the outbursts by Weselton. Anna displaying she is there for her sister (which works for the act of true love scene later). It is meant to make her a tragic figure but the gestures of the character and tone of the music unfortunately disguises this. I could imagine the line ‘… go enjoy the sun and open up the gates’ being said far more spitefully as though Anna had always gone on about these things previously to the point of ignoring the torment her sister was going through for her sake. It could easily have been done in this manner to make Elsa come across a bit more antagonistically without becoming the antagonist as the creators seemed to fear happening once they chose not to make her an outright villain. ‘Stay away and you’ll be safe from me’ is responded to with ‘actually we’re not…’ which I could easily see being a kicking off point causing Elsa to lose control as Anna just, unintentionally, agreed with her self preception as a threat to those around her.

In the following exchange I find Anna acts as expected but not as a person with her experience would. She reassures Elsa that she can control her powers but it seems now she is through the metaphorical door she doesn’t know how to give Elsa emotional space having lived a life where Elsa had remained behind closed doors a number of times. This scene then has Elsa in the foreground and, perhaps just to my ear, being more dominant in the volume of their exchange as though the audience is being subtly told to see things from her perspective. Interestingly Elsa refers to not being able to ‘control the curse’ and while we can see her viewing her powers as a curse I again wonder if this is a holdover from the drafts where there was a prophecy. She tells Anna she will just ‘make it worse’ and I find that this moment is meant to be far more tragic as Elsa now does what she had feared all along for years when hiding herself away. ‘There’s so much to fear’ she declares and looks at her own reflection in the ice which, if they had held on the shot more, would tell the audience that while Elsa is ‘free’ in isolation, so she doesn’t fear hurting people around her in the mountain but she is not truly free as, in fact, she is just running away from her responsibilities which isn’t the same thing. In this moment she now confronts this seeing her own reflection and cannot accept the schism between the two versions of herself. This inner conflict, as previously demonstrated, is visually shown by snowflakes but unlike ‘Do You Want To Build A Snowman’ where it was only a few easily ignored flakes in is now a full blown flurry which keeps Anna at bay despite her sister’s efforts to approach her. Thus we also are shown again how Elsa throughout the film is allowing her powers to be a barrier between them. Losing control she hits Anna in the heart. I find the next moment perhaps the second worse point in the film’s narrative direction besides Hans‘ villainous reveal.

Elsa knows, both in the final and the deleted versions of this moment, she has struck Anna but, instead of acknowledging the moment she has spent years dwelling on in fear has now come to pass and go to the trolls again, she acts in an odd mix of fear and anger which doesn’t ring true of the character. The expulsion of her injured sister becomes such a false moment in the film. If she remained true to what we have previously been shown she would place Anna‘s safety above her own and go to the trolls which could have been done by having Hans and Weselton‘s men leading a whipped up crowd after her or something to that effect. I find that perhaps due to them not wanting Elsa to be a villain in anyway whatsoever they actually harm the narrative. However I concede the build up with the snow storm flurry was very effective but then the castle begins to crumble which doesn’t make sense. During Elsa’s emotional distress before we have seen her powers increase not diminish. It could be inferred that on some level that the palace beginning to crack represents Elsa’s inner turmoil and on some level she acknowledges she injured her sister and her love for her is weakening her powers but as the finale has the Arendelle’s snow lift in the air prettily and not shattering it is hard to really infer what this single moment of cracking ice, which is coloured quite darkly in contrast to the rest of the structure, is mean to confer to the audience. After all cracking ice is a destructive process not reflected elsewhere with Elsa’s powers. Had the surface of the fjord/marina begun to crack when Elsa later shows sorrow at least there would be consitancy as we could associate cracking with the negative emotional reaction her powers display but this doesn’t happen. I think again this could be a holdover from a previous version where Elsa perhaps did have shattering ice as a part of her powers but the closest we get to this is Marshmallow the ice golem who arises in this scene and also seems out of place in the films tone. To me he/she is another hold over but I am certain this comes from the ‘raising an army’ moment of the evil version of Elsa.

I have to assume they had put too much effort into the ice golem creation process and needed to use it somewhere but it still comes across as out of place in the film. The closest imagery we get of Elsa’s powers being evil is when the ice of the fountains in Arendelle’s palace freeze in a batwing like shape (which during my first viewing I thought looked like ice dragon heads), the horizontal stalagmites, the cracking of the palace and Marshmallow’s fingers and back spikes. Though the snowball moment of defiance by Anna is funny and again reinforces that Anna often acts before thinking. If anything it seems a very childish sibling act of rebellion so feeds further into how perhaps Anna has reacted to Elsa’s inability to interact with her before.

The snow anchor scene – While Kristoff says it is like landing on a pillow I appreciate they can not just have the characters leap off a cliff for fear people start linking children doing the same with seeing it done in the film. Sadly that’s a sign of modern times that everything has to be overthought and so we have terms like ‘may contain mild peril’ which previous generations just accepted as an event in narrative progression. The sequence of Marshmallow pulling them up in order to tell them to leave just seems pointless. It wasn’t even in the trailers to give a false impression of danger so it is completely unnecessary as they were already running away. I do note that, unlike Olaf, Marshmallow has ice in his/her structure as part of the fingers so again it makes me believe the design is a remnant of a more violence orientated version of Elsa.

Kristoff I should address never really comes across as a love interest despite the closing scene. He is always there to help and the film seems to be heavy handed later on in inferring he is a romantic lead but everything leading to that point really doesn’t confirm it to the audience… but I will address that later. Olaf saying he doesn’t have a skull or bones – was that meant to be funny? It’s stating a fact in a very flat way and contributes nothing to the scene. Olaf works as a representation of Elsa’s remaining affinity with Anna but much of the dialogue given to him negatively affects the narrative except for the fire side scene.

Anna’s hair turns distinctly white in one section Olaf dulls the moment indicating Kristoff hesitated when addressing this. Olaf seems to be there to fill gaps of dramatic tension and for an older viewer it ruins quieter moments of drama though I understand children need to be introduced to these concepts so noting it helps educate them in the aspects of narrative e.g. a hesitation demonstrates the speaker isn’t necessarily telling the truth. Kristoff advises Anna where to speak but we would expect a romantic lead to be more tactile and protective during this scene. Also I would assume the steam would negatively affect Olaf here.

Kristoff and the trolls – again was he kidnapped? It is never addressed but that’s the reading I have as he was amongst the ice cutters at the start, presumably as someone’s son, but then only calls the trolls family. The declaration by Olaf that ‘[Kristoff]’s crazy’ would be illustrated by Anna’s actions alone and Olaf seems to be there to underline and make explicit these moments so for once I understand the issues people have with sidekick characters when I have usually been happy to justify them for one reason or another before. The troll saying ‘take you clothes off….’ While a throwaway line gives unnecessary implications and raises a number of questions about Kristoff’s upbringing. So he never wore clothes growing up? Where did they get his clothes? He has the ones seen around the point of ‘In The First Time In Forever’ in Arendelle and his standard outfit seen here. If he was raised by the trolls where did the sled come from? If he was raised by the trolls why doesn’t he seem as comfortable about their opinions in the song as you would assume someone raised with their societal views would be? There is a barrage of stone based puns so obviously they couldn’t decide which was best and just decided to throw them all in.

Fixer Upper – I find this song troublesome although it is meant to tell the audience that the trolls are unlike the society of the human characters. The trolls seem a bit keen to force romance and I get the feeling that in some way they represent the creative team feeling that not only does the film need a villain but also a romance and this is meant to tell us that the trolls, with their insight into magic and being ‘experts in love’ can tell that Kristoff and Anna are meant to be when there have been no real signs of romantic affection only friendship up until now. I think because of the films core message about what true love is this song therefore flies in the face of it and undermines the film when seen as a whole. The song while instrumentally good has lyrics that are worrying like saying his relation with the reindeer is ‘a bit outside nature’s laws’ when it implies to an older audience bestiality. They refer to his isolation but ironically he is perhaps the least isolated of the main cast as he has Sven and the trolls as family who embrace him as soon as he arrives back. However they do mention love and a healing hug so in a way it prepares the audience to accept how Elsa’s crying while hugging Anna in the climax works to undo the effects of the magic. Then they go on to say getting her fiancé out of the way is acceptable as ‘her quote engagement is a flex arrangement’ to which the little one makes a point of indicating there is no ring visible (beneath mittens…) so there are quite materialistic values being portrayed. Then ‘kidnapper’ troll does a mock gospel sequence saying you can’t change people, they don’t really change. People make bad decisions if mad, scared or stressed. They are dropping hints about how to remedy Elsa’s problems but it is hidden behind some quite bluntly anti-social ideas. The cloak and crown look quite Hawaiian or more likely Pagan which would make more sense. Why are they marrying them so quickly? That is worrying in and of itself as earlier we were told not to rush into things by Elsa in Arendelle’s Christian settings (albeit they removed the iconography but the minister and cathedral like settings betray what it was) in contrast with this pagan setting which endorses Anna’s quick to agree to marriage behaviour earlier. That she rejects it perhaps is meant to show personal development by her and a growing understanding of Elsa’s perspective on the matter however she is still engaged with Hans so the point is moot narrative wise.

Then she collapses and Grand Pabbi finally appears with a very serious moment which comes as quite jarring with just 20 seconds ago the hectic sociopathic humour of the other trolls.

They discuss what the act of true love is and Anna’s hair whitens even more. Is Elsa’s hair meant to be white naturally as she is Scandinavian or is it an effect of the ice magic as neither of the parents were fair haired. Olaf again seems excess to requirements here asking who Hans is though, for him, it would be a valid question. I hope someone didnt think this would make the audience question who Hans really is and his true intentions. I think that would be expecting a bit too much of the audience to do for a children’s film without decent foreshadowing.

Hans gives chase / Elsa imprisoned – Why does Hans go after her himself if he has no affection for her and just wishes to claim the throne? Perhaps to cover his own back so had she nor Elsa survive to claim they had shared their oaths, as he later does, but all this is just an assumption to fill a plot hole. He most likely went to make a good impression on the others so they would elect him ruler in lieu of there being any remaining heirs to the throne. Why ask for no harm to the queen when Weselton and no doubt others have demonised her and are willing to do what is necessary to return things to normal? Again the different drafts seem to have been forced to merge here and there are discrepancies. The action sequence with Elsa portrays her as a cornered animal. She isn’t defenceless and could easily erect more barriers so it seems a needlessly dramatic battle though an impressive sequence nonetheless. If anything she nearly kills the ‘slick back hair’ henchmen as she isn’t fully in control and using is using stalagmite shards to impale him to the wall which we earlier saw to be sharp enough to impale. ‘Don’t be the monster they fear you are’ Hans tells her and if you really want to stretch it you could argue he was making sure she believed all of Arendelle had turned against her when the only person we have seen do this is Weselton. At this point he could, if wanting the throne, have killed her so why take her back? And why are there such unique manacles in the castles basement? It is almost as if they were aware of Elsa’s hand fixation in regards to her powers. A part of me wants to believe these were actually made by her parents (or if you have seen Once Upon A Time some even earlier ancestors dealing with ice powers) with a mind to controlling the ice powers if they could not be controlled otherwise.

I can’t [bring back summer]’ – There should have been some suggestion here. Kristoff carrying Anna back riding Sven seems a moment where he is being demonstrated as the true love interest. This moment is implied to be an act of true love but also it can be seen as just the act of philia, the love of a friend, not ‘true love’ as usually defined by Disney as eros or the romantic love. But of course the creators hope you fall into this trap and assume it is Kristoff (or Hans upon a first viewing) who will save the day. I feel the foreign leaders should have had a little bit more development and I assume there are unseen ideas about more scenes in Arendelle during Anna’s quest which got quickly discarded for time.

True loves kiss’ – In earlier drafts he was going to kiss her and it would not work as her only liked her (philia) but didn’t know her long enough to be familiar with her to be affectionate (storge) nor romantically (eros – as Disney usually depict such kisses) nor unconditionally (agape). If anything in the final version he is in direct contrast to the concept of agape which may have been intentional but too subtle a reference to the 4 loves of Christianity when references have been excised and Disney is an international company appealing to many non-Christians. He only wants her for the condition of ruling over Arendelle through a union with her and even then he would kill her I assume as there is no point to reveal his plan at all during the events of the film if that was his plan. The whole villain monologue scene is just terribly conceived and implemented forcing Hans to act far out of character compared to earlier events. It’s too jarring a change in character with no previous indications of his true intents as I have addressed briefly earlier. If he had been set up better with hints of his intentions this scene is basically a villain’s monologue without the lead up. It could be suggested he has adapted to the situation at hand and is stating his original plan now as he feels things have gone beyond being salvageable but still there is no reason for him to monologue to Anna. Due to the events of the film we would expect him to have taken better advantage by taking defensive actions for the people and not pursued either sister himself. Overall the monologue has been put in to give the film a villain when there was no need. Weselton represents the overtly violent reaction by others Elsa, and her parents, feared regarding her powers. His henchmen act as an extension of this prejudice though they have no lines of dialogue (do they?). Even ignoring that these aspects of the narrative were incorporated from the ‘Elsa is the bad prophecy come to pass’ drafts of the film. There was no real need for a villain and arguably Weselton or one of his henchmen could have been the one to swing the sword at Elsa so Hans just seemed to be selected to send a message that beauty doesn’t equal moral good but that itself fails when everyone is either attractive according to their gender stereotypes of physique or a gonk due to being middle aged, a figure of ridicule or just someone to fill the background in the scene but needing to be differentiated from those around them. The trolls, who are the most questionable, if they are meant to be cute or grotesque but depicted in the films art style, are themselves a sort of moral grey area where they will help without payment but they don’t make their answers clear and seem all too willing to force their own views on others. In short Hans is not so much a villain as a plot device of a figure to demonstrate Anna’s naivety and later be the assigned villain because a mandate apparently demanded there be one in the film.

You would think someone would have challenged the marriage having occurred as there would have had to be witnesses and the minister there. Weselton is well set up to be the one to state his support for Hans claim without being given any proof so in that sense he has been well developed for this moment and to be an accessory to Hans’ scheme. I do question how Elsa escaped as the stonework is presumably built to withstand severe frost. Obviously it was too expensive to do the wall breaking but would have been appropriate as a lead into the next scene.

‘Life’s Too Short (Reprise)’ –  At this point, while Elsa is in the dungeon with the hand manacles on and Anna in front of the fireplace, we were to have ‘Life Too Short (Reprise)’ but I assume as the early song was taken out then so too this had to go which is a shame.

It demonstrates the character development of both sisters and their respect for each other. It shows them acknowledging the others perspective and needs which were denied. This would lead to a slightly stronger impact for the point where Anna sacrifices herself and Elsa embraces her but it is not as severe a loss as some other parts but would have been a good way to reinforce the film’s message of appreciating you siblings. Many of the parts taken out demonstrate more clearly the duality of the sisters and in some additional materials like the ‘A Sister More Like Me’ book still have clear remnants of this version as they were composed prior to the finalised stages of the film’s development.
Kristoff and Sven race back to help – Sven forces Kristoff to go back but I question why did he depart so soon when things had not been resolved? It gives them the chance to show his rushing back to save Anna but nonetheless the scene is questionable even if Kristoff does like the company of other people unless completely necessary when selling his ice as shown in one of the opening scenes. Again the audience has to make assumptions here presumably that he thought everything was fine now and there was no need for him to remain.

 Olaf and Anna at the fireside – representing Elsa’s love for her sister gets his one good scene of dialogue in the film. ‘Some people are worth melting for’ showing not just his alliegence but affection towards the sisters but unlike them he can’t quite bring himself to sacrifice himself which is a nice preparation for younger aundiences to better understand the extent of Anna’s later intended self sacrifice. There is a good PSA about not touching fire here just to make sure little kids are weary of going near open fireplaces. I do wonder, now we see Anna’s hair in its fully white state, if Elsa is meant to be white haired naturally. What is true love is discussed and interesting what they talk about here, though I disagree Kristoff coming back is true love, is not so clear cut an issue here now Disney have subverted their usual ‘true loves kiss solves everything’ tradition. If they had played wanted to play Kristoff rushing back as heroic I again protest that he wouldn’t have left anyway so there must be an omitted moment where he decides he is no longer needed and leaves by himself or is told he is no longer needed by someone (although having an ice cutter when the palace is frozen over would probably be something they would pay over the odds for though he doesn’t have his tools. Why does the ice only now invade the palace interior? Perhaps due to Elsa’s proximity and emotional turmoil though previously it seemed immune to it for the most part? The frozen fjord while nice doesn’t seem a very dramatic location in and of itself except allows for a clear demonstration of the snow effects in their full glory without having to account for walls or other obstacles. If the ice powers are passed down maternally wouldn’t Anna have some resistance even though she doesn;t have these powers? Admittedly without seeing their effect on a non-royal we cannot say if someone else would have automatically become an ice sculpture or not under similar circumstances.

Hans approaching to kill Elsa: this is a good scene but the setup of him as a villain was far too little to be satisfying. So we can assume that when Elsa displays anger or distress she unintentionally generates a snow storm while sorrow induces a stagnant cold seen here and during ‘Do You Want To Build A Snowman’. Where did Hans get the sword? He didn’t have it on him and it would have sunk under the ice if it were in the ford or extremely brittle if it had been sat on a boat all this time. He just gets it from nowhere it seems and it’s a bad moment of non-continuity which can’t be explained away easily.

Act of True Love: The sacrifice is a good moment. Somehow I feel there should have been a few more beats before she began unfreezing but they show everyone, including many secondary characters, in remorse so it does work out but I have found the entire film is slightly too fastly paced so scenes and moments don’t get to ‘breathe’ and have their full impact. The film shows Anna throwing herself selflessly in the way of Hans’ attack as an act of true love as she doesn’t consider her own safety. I feel, and hope, though that the film also has a secondary act of true love displayed by Elsa crying openly thus admitting her sorrow for what has come to pass between them without blaming either herself nor Anna. Then she weakens the moment a bit by repeating the word love over and over as if its a great revelation, which admittedly it probably is to her, until it is a bit too saccharine but it’s that kind of feel good film so I can ignore it. It is however an immense coincidence they are stood on a ship when clearly they were in the middle of open space previously. Until that ship somehow got trapped suddenly under the ice they should all be in the water at this point. They whole fjord/marina sequence seems to have not been staged out well or the omission of things in the landscape was a short cut to get the film out quicker and they would excuse it saying ‘the snowstorm obscured you seeing them’. Then the Vuelie chanting gets a reprise to indicate the magic is fading away from the land. At least they acknowledge Olaf is part of her magic and begins to melt which is the sort of thing I have seen ignored in other works to give a happier ending to everyone. Anna gets to punch Hans, instead of Kristoff or Sven who would be able to get the leverage to knock him overboard. In regards to the diplomatic implications I imagine Weselton must be the ruler of his nation and so inevitably due to his overt behaviour towards Elsa the ceasing of trade with them was inevitable (and the very least he could expect considering he was attempting regicide and an accessory to Hans‘ attempt within a foreign country) but what happened to his henchmen? Maybe I missed them in the background. I wonder what the consequences would be for Hans’ nation as the other diplomats/rulers state his twelve brothers will no doubt have things to say but we know nothing of them. They could very well have directed him towards taking such action as we don’t know their ages nor their statuses. If anything they could be like the princes in Neil Gaiman’s ‘Stardust’ killing each other over the succession.

The sled moment is sweet and funny with Sven’s ‘look at my ride’ posturing but Kristoff is still just a friend from what we have seen and with Elsa’s abilities his job is presumably redundant so the job title is honorary with no real responsibilities. I suppose Anna and he hooking up at the last moment is in line with Disney’s usual quick hook up at the end of the leading man and woman. So did things really change with this film for Disney as people seem to hope? Maybe not but it was a nice gesture to not have the man save the day and at least take a step towards gender equality in some aspects even if they ultimately reinforce others. After all for all Elsa’s power what did she achieve with them and didn’t she follow her father’s decision even after his passing? I do question everyone so suddenly accepting Elsa’s powers, even if she is their queen, and being willing to go skating. What I find awkward is that the palace is set on its own in the marina/fjord which though never addressed seems an odd location for a royal palace. I expected it to be a shoreline docked palace on the edge of a sea trading city similar to say to Novgorod or Cardiff (though the castles are set a bit more inland but for the sake of this film I assumed coastal erosion or the palace was once the medieval dock fortifications and the royals moved in at a later point). This sequence just seems to be there to rap everything up which for a Disney film is excusable though it leaves questions for older viewers such as the origins of Elsa’s powers which would have been addressed in previous drafts via the prophecy no doubt.

The credits were meant to begin with a reprise of the ‘Reindeer Are Better Than People’ song and I honestly feel it would have been a much more fun, upbeat, way to finish the film than the Demi Lovato cover of ‘Let It Go’.

It is an honest shame this didn’t make it into the final version. Especially funny as Kristoff has finally got some people in his life besides Sven and the trolls so he is still clearly a little too close with Sven and would like . It was obviously a joke song as the final line is ‘why didn’t I get a real song?’ although he did get to sing it partially just after being thrown out of Oaken’s. I did find it funny throughout the film when he would speak on Sven’s behalf and the reindeer would make the appropriate facial gestures. It was probably one of the things I found most enjoyable about it and I hope we have more of it in the sequel instead of Olaf who sadly doesn’t really work though he is obviously the more popular mascot.

Post credits sceneMarshmallow the ice golem takes the tiara/crown. It’s a pointless bit of fluff but nice they added it so people didn’t question if s/he ‘died’. Logically when Elsa’s magic receded, including Olaf melting, the same would have happened to Marshmallow although you could argue that the much colder conditions of the mountain meant s/he didn’t melt. I assume it is a male but maybe that was the ‘stinger’ that actually it was female and the tiara/crown made her feel feminine. A nice little clip to send you on your way if you have got used to such end of credit stingers from the Marvel films recently.


The 4 loves are present in the film although Disney chose to excise other Christian aspects of the story:

Storge – fondness through familiarity: Elsa and Anna, Kristoff and Sven, Kristoff and the trolls, Oaken and his family.

Eros – the romantic love: This is how Disney usually defines ‘true love’ so it was refreshing to see and alternative in this film even if they still have Anna and Kristoff pair up at the very end. Anna confuses Hans actions as this, as it is the normal progression for Disney princesses, but only in the closing do we have this when Kristoff and she kiss after time has passed and presumably she has grown to know him better.

Philia – The love between friends: This is the love that Anna and Kristoff have for most of the film and is definitely there between Kristoff and Sven (even if it is commented on a little odd by others). In earlier drafts when Hans was not a villain he would have shown this and so his ‘true loves kiss’ would not have worked because of it unlike for example the versions seen in ‘Snow White’ or ‘Cinderella’.

Agape – Charity or the unconditional love brought forth regardless of circumstances: This we see most evidently when Anna throws herself in front of Hans’ sword as he is about to strike Elsa but it could easily be seen in how far Anna goes to be there for Elsa in earlier parts of the film though Elsa cannot reciprocate. Arguably the same could be said in reverse that Elsa sacrifices her own happiness to protect Anna from her but in doing this we ignore that isolating herself in fact is a selfish act (albeit endorsed by her parents) which denies the love between the sisters. If anything Elsa’s open display of remorse towards what has happened to Anna in the finale shows she has finally ‘let it go’ but now in the true sense as she doesn’t hide herself away from others, as she was doing in the mountain ice palace, but now shows her actual true self (unlike the version of her ‘true self’ she has through self imposed exile isolated on the mountain) and now demonstrates her love for her sister by embracing Anna’s frozen form weeping without concern of what others think.


No doubt there are many mistakes above but this has become quite the rambling essay. I may go back and read over it and edit it a bit better soon but it’s been quite the task to create it in such a brief time.

I may go back and take a better look at how the alternative scenes would have changed the story in any significant way and how I believe they would have been implemented. Certainly I am aware that many of the Christian aspects of Hans Christian Andersen’s original story were removed but we still have the four loves represented as I briefly address above.

Comments, Likes and discussion are welcome.