So over the holiday season I have watched a few films on television. Some of them are well known and some are not. Don’t expect anything in depth as these are purely brief opinion pieces i.e. I have nothing better to post right now.
Was you favourite part when there is the non-dialogue musical section about Carl and Ellie’s married life together growing old, suffering the news they cannot have children and her passing away? Was it the bit when they reprise the ‘Married Life’ musical piece as Carl opens the adventure book and finds Ellie left him one last message thanking him for all the adventures and telling him to go have a new one?
You are lying!Those parts were far and away in a totally different league to the rest of the film!
To be honest once they realised the ‘married life’ backstory part worked better with no dialogue they should have just accepted they made something far better than the main part of the film and found a way to do the backstory segment a different way and have the ‘married life’ part be its own small feature. You can like Dug as a character but that is as far as I can allow. Ironically they ruined their own film by making a timeless moment with the ‘married life’ segment which leaves the rest of the film pale in comparison.
AKA Sean Bean and his American wife with their daughter go live in rural Wales where ghosts cause them trouble. It would be a good film if it wasn’t for the fact I know about the Welsh mythology they allude to while mixing it with a heretical chapel community who committed a suicide pact together. Annwn isn’t the odd cold, blue, windy place they depict but a sort of Valhalla without the need to go fighting, a world of delights and eternal youth where disease was absent and food was ever-abundant. A film of tepid Welsh caricatures and tepid supernatural thriller. It’s okay to watch if you are unfamiliar with Welsh mythology but otherwise it seems very poorly intended despite being based on a novel… a novel called ‘Sheep’… because… you know… Wales… Sheep… Stereotypes. I have watched it a few times thinking maybe I have missed something as they leave any spoken Welsh untranslated at the start but no… no apparently it’s just not that well thought out.
The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn (2011)
Excellent fun adventure film and enjoy it whenever I see it. The motion capture is well done though the faces are in that strange uncanny valley area of features. It amalgamates a few Tintin stories to make its own thing. I would have liked it if they had stayed true to Herge’s original ‘dot eye’ look personally. Andy Serkis as ever proves he is the go to man for ‘ink suit’ acting. I wish they had made a sequel so we could see Professor Calculus. Thompson and Thomson steal every scene they are in due to Pegg and Frost. Admittedly the albums/graphic novels have more space to develop the storylines. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Adventures_of_Tintin_%28film%29
Hunky Dory (2011/2012)
Set in Swansea. So yes Minnie Driver ‘acting Welsh’ and seeing actors still doing the rounds on Welsh Language television and SkyOne’s Stella is odd. A 1976 comprehensive school does a version of Shakespeare’s Tempest with David Bowie music following the trials and tribulations of all involved. It is a period drama piece and I wasn’t fussed on it. Then again I have a very awkward response to Welsh period drama set in the late twentieth century but it did come across as quite flat despite flashes of potential occasionally. The director also did ‘Patagonia’. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hunky_Dory_%28film%29
The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists! (2012)
I had wanted to see this for a while but never got around to it. A very fun anachronistic film I would happily see again. It is a stop motion film done by Aardman animation so you know its good stuff and you won’t catch every bit of humour in a scene the first time you watch it. Queen Victoria steals the film as far as I am concerned although all the characters are well done. Apparently based on the first of a series of books so it would be nice to think one day they will go on and adapt others from the series. I would actually go out of my way to see it again if it comes on television again soon it was that enjoyable. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Pirates!_In_an_Adventure_with_Scientists!
The Wolverine (2013)
A film that didn’t need to be made. More to the point it ends with some things unresolved like his adamantium claws being sliced off but I’m guessing by ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’ this is never addressed how they became adamantium laced again… They hired a slightly less attractive actress to make the love interest actress look better in comparison. The ‘bow and arrow’ guy I was never clear if he was meant to be Mariko’s dedicated protector or a loyal servant of the family and thus more of an anti-hero. He was eye candy for the ladies so I guess it doesn’t matter. The reveal of who the silver samurai is isn’t a surprise although the de-aging bit was silly. Dr Green is just a very odd ‘obvious villain’ character who is never really given any characterisation beyond ‘obviously evil’. In fact no one gets much to work with in this film in terms of their characters and it shows. I will never willingly watch this film again unless I need to sleep. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wolverine_%28film%29
Puss In Boots (2011)
Puss In Boots stars in a film with humour on the level of Shrek the Third. It’s fun but unfortunately Shrek 2 kind of ruined it for the later films due to its multifaceted cultural references giving adults and children an equally enjoyable film and expecting the later ones to follow suit. Humpty Dumpty I wasn’t too sure about but in the end I think he was a very good character albeit the ‘he was a golden egg/good egg all along’ part was a bit too contrived. There is a lot of Mexican/Spanish style music and it really keeps the film at a strong energetic tempo. Also just after this they showed the short ‘The Three Diablos’ which was okay but should have either been a bit longer or tightened up a bit as it felt a bit ungainly in its story progression. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puss_in_Boots_%282011_film%29
Men In Black III (2012)
As good as the first one if not a little better in some respects depending on what you like. Josh Brolin does a brilliant impression of Tommy Lee Jones playing the younger version of the character. Emma Thompson and Jermaine Clement are both excellent and should have been in the film more. However Griffin, played by Micheal Stuhlbarg, steals every scene he is in. The inclusion of interesting alien characters was what was missing from the second film where they confused ‘weird and a set up for some puns’ with interesting as you actually care what happens to the characters here. I wouldn’t mind seeing this on television again one day. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Men_in_Black_3
As a stand-alone film this would have been a cheap and cheerful bit of fluff quickly forgotten. How it has had sequels I have no idea as there only seemed enough there to just barely make one film let alone more. It was okay to watch once but I will never watch it again even if there is nothing else on. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nativity!_%28film%29
Mary Poppins (1964)
Classic film. Dick Van Dyke and his dodgy cockney accent. Good stuff. Tarnished in my mind by ‘Saving Mr Banks’ and knowing P. L. Travers wasn’t happy with what they did with her character. It is never nice to find the original creator is unhappy with an adaption of their work. Personally I think they should take a view that it is an adaption and doesn’t change their own work but as we all know sometimes, if not more often, it is the adaptions people know and not the original upon which they are based. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Poppins_%28film%29
Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971)
A film for those who would like something like Mary Poppins but don’t want to watch Mary Poppins again i.e. Disney live action mixed with ‘in animation land’ sequences. I never really ‘got’ this one personally. I think because the character basically go running around stealing a king’s pendant and having an element of ‘the protagonists are in the right always’ even when being thieves. Also the setting lends itself to ‘stiff upper lip’ English stereotypes which when the film was made in 1964 must have already seemed a very old fashioned idea already. I think this was one of the films in my childhood that made me always identify with the villain rather than the protagonists. Also the villain is named Astaroth just like the demon which I found surprising in a Disney film considering that in Fantasia they changed the name of the devil/Lucifer in the ‘Night On Bald Mountain’ section to that of the ancient Slavic mythological deity Chernobog… because… you know… Eastern Europe = Communism. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bedknobs_and_Broomsticks
Superman/Batman: Apocalypse (2010)
DC animation film. It’s basically about Super-girl arriving on earth, being trained by Wonder Woman, kidnapped and brainwashed by Darkseid and then returned home. They obviously didn’t think people would buy it if they admitted that. It’s okay but quite generically comic book story wise. Watch it once if you are interested but there is nothing there to draw you back ever again. A very generic comic book story… in fact shockingly so to the point you could imagine it being a satire. The one good bit is when they think everything is resolved then Darkseid appears out of Ma and Pa Kent’s house and there is a massive battle. In the aftermath Ma and Pa return to find their home decimated and Clark introduces his cousin. I’ve ruined the best bit but to honest it was quite boring even if it was only about an hour long. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superman/Batman:_Apocalypse
Dreamworks always tend to be a very hit or miss affair with more ‘fails’ than successes in my mind. Megamind is one of the few I feel actually works as it stays true to its subverting of superhero films although it brings nothing new to the table. There is good interaction between the characters and I feel that they could easily have made some interesting continuations with the story if they had wanted. I always think it is George Clooney and not Brad Pitt doing Metro-Man’s voice. Jonah Hill voices Hal Stewart/Tighten and ironically life imitates art is seems as he has more and more come across like an asshole in recent times with his ‘suck my dick faggot’ comment amongst other things. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Megamind
Конец Санкт-Петербурга (Konets Sankt-Peterburga) / The End Of St. Petersburg (1927)
Silent black and White film made to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the October Revolution. Worth watching, very intense visuals and performances. As a film made during the early Soviet era about a key period in its beginnings it is of course propagandist but you should check it out if you have even a passing interesting in the history or cinema. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_End_of_St._Petersburg
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)
AKA the one where Bond marries at the end and she gets gunned down in a drive by shooting by Blofeld and his henchwoman. If nothing else that makes sure I could never think of this as ‘the bad Bond film’ as many insisted it was for years due to George Lazenby being the ‘Milk Tray’ man. The death however is foreshadowed far too heavily by how many times they said the phrase ‘we have all the time in the world’ even to the point of having it as the last line in the film but mostly its reiterated by how often the song reoccurred during the film. There’s a room of women from different nations as Blofeld’s ‘angels of death’. This was the ‘worst’ Bond film apparently for a long time but I actually enjoyed it albeit there are far better ones but if you take this one with a pinch of salt it is really enjoyable and at least breaks the mould of the 007 series up a bit as it’s not as by the book as some others. For me personally Quantum of Solace is the worst one. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On_Her_Majesty%27s_Secret_Service_%28film%29
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)
Basically its a rehash of Raiders of the Lost Ark. The villains who are generic villains but this time Soviet Communists instead of Nazis are after a mythological item… lots of call backs… Cate Blanhett doing a hammy Hollywood Ukranian accent… substitute Nazi occultism for Soviet ESP experimentation… adventures… rocket cart… survive nuclear blast in a fridge… strongman villain with little no dialogue killed in a gruesome way… someone talking in riddles… treacherous colleagues… fantastical resolution EXCEPT THIS TIME IT WAS ALIENS NOT MAGIC! …as M Night Shamalan would say ‘What a twist!’…or to be correct as Ox says in the denoument they are interdimensional beings not ‘alien’ aliens so yet a further twist! ‘knowledge was their treasure’ they conclude in the end… I hope you feel the same way now you’ve read these mini reviews.
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 Arendelle – Hans 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 scene – Marshmallow 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.