Monday, January 13, 2014

# January Joy: See a Film

When I heard that Disney was planning an animated version of Hans Christian Andersen's classic fairy tale: 'The Snow Queen' I was super excited.

I have always loved Hans Christian Andersen's stories and The Snow Queen is amongst my all-time favorites. We finally saw Frozen this weekend and I don't know what to say. I really liked the movie. It is a Disney movie in the classic sense: there are adventures, singing, funny characters, and the action is paced in such a way that you never get bored. It's a good movie. I enjoyed it. I did not even like a Disney movie so much in a long time.

But, it has absolutely nothing to do 'The Snow Queen'. Nothing. Except of course that the main character's heart gets frozen. And even then, it's not the same. Disney's version is lacking depth: princess Anna's heart gets accidentally frozen by her sister Elsa (who hasn't quite learnt to control her powers) during an argument, threatening to kill her by hypothermia. In Hans Christian Andersen's tale Kai's frozen heart affects all of him. It's not only physical cold we are talking about, but he becomes cruel, mean and isolated.

Let's start at the beginning though:

- The Snow Queen tells the story of a little girl and a little boy, Gerda and Kai, who are neighbours and friends, who read and take care of a garden together in their adjoining balconies. I always imagined the children as not being older than 12, though it's not specified. In Frozen, Kai is unheard of. It 's the story of two sisters, who of course also happen to be princesses, one of whom has magic ice-controlling powers and all the action happens once they are grown up.

- The Snow Queen herself is an evil character, a proper villain, who lures Kai into following her, then  kidnaps him, steals his memories of Gerda and his life before and locks him up in her ice-palace until he is able to solve a riddle. In Frozen, the Queen just happens to be the older sister and she is not really evil. She just decides to isolate herself for fear of the harm her powers might cause to others.

- Kai's heart gets frozen when a piece of a broken-enchanted mirror gets into his eye and heart, making him unpolite, mean, selfish. The enchanted mirror pieces are spread over the Earth after some naughty, wicked devils let it fall to the the World while trying to bring it to heaven to show it to God and the angels, with intents to make them look like fools.The  mirror has the property of distorting reality, turning everything pure, beautiful and kind into ugly and evil. None of this takes place in Frozen, and Anna's frozen heart does not affect her personality at all. It just makes her physically weak and puts her life in danger.

- After Kai is kidnapped by the Snow Queen (and everyone declares him dead), Gerda, who does not lose faith in her friend, sets on a journey to find and rescue him. During her trip she meets all kinds of magic and mischievous characters: some will help her and some will try to keep her away from her mission. There's 'the old woman who knew magic' who brushes her hair and attempts to keep Gerda with her forever by making her forget Kai and hiding the roses that would always remind her of him. There's a talking crow that thinks he saw Kai at a nearby palace, but it turns out he mistook Kai with a Prince. Then there's the Princess who wouldn't marry anyone who wasn't at least as smart as her. And a little robber girl on a caravan, who nonetheless decides to help Gerda in her quest so she releases her and even lends her a reindeer who knows the way to the Snow Queen's palace. There are a couple of Finnish and Lap women who'll both give hints to little Gerda. This could have made for some great characters, but they are all missing in Disney's version (well, I guess except for the reindeer).

So even though Frozen is a fun, entertaining and nice story by itself, what was Disney thinking to pretend one story has anything to do with the other?

Pictures from here and here. 


  1. My aunt had been trying to get me to go watch this movie for the longest of time but I wasn't all that interested in it. And then my sister came back home for the holidays and was telling me about how all her Computer Animation major friends didn't like it because it was "poorly made" and "Anna looks too much like Rapunzel! That's some lazy animation!". Her comments turned me off it a bit more and even though the trailers looked "fun" I still haven't watched it. After reading your post I think I'll just skip it. But then again, most Disney stories based on classic fairytales are a bit far from the original.

    1. Oh I think you should watch it. It is a good movie, I really liked it, it 's fun and entertaining and a nice story. But I was completely shocked that it is so completely different from the original. It's not a slight modification here and there, it's just another tale or together. So as long as you think of it as a separate story it's fine.
      As for lazy animation... Disney has been copying itself for a long time, did you ever see this clip?

    2. Wow... no, I hadn't seen that video before. Interesting!

  2. The Snow Queen was my favourite HCA fairy tale as well. I had no idea that Frozen was supposed to be based on it - it definitely sounds quite different. At the same time, that's not entirely surprising ... think about how different the Little Mermaid is from the original, or Beauty and the Beast or Cinderella. One of Disney's specialties has always been cleaning up the dark fairy tales into shiny pretty stories.


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