Donald and I recently saw the latest Disney animated feature, Frozen, and while it had some good moments and one great song, we didn’t enjoy it as much as some of the other recent Disney films (Wreck-It Ralph, for instance).
The biggest problem was the writing. A major plot twist was not foreshadowed at all, the pacing felt off during the first quarter or third of the movie, and the tendency of characters to break out into song at the least provocation felt forced and awkward. (Yes, I realize that it’s a musical, but ideally it should either feel somewhat natural that someone has started singing, or the song itself should be so memorable that you don’t care.) Early in the movie, I felt myself inwardly sighing every time a character started to sing, and waiting for the plot to pick up again.
For me, the movie also suffers by comparison with the Hans Christian Andersen story that inspired it, “The Snow Queen”. This isn’t the first Andersen tale re-imagined by Disney, but Frozen has even less in common with the original story than The Little Mermaid did. “The Snow Queen” is about the epic quest of a girl, Gerda, to rescue her childhood friend Kay after he’s kidnapped by the eponymous queen. It’s one of Andersen’s longest fairy tales, and the one that made the strongest impression on me. I always liked that the girl got to be the one doing the rescuing (my Barbie dolls went on a lot of quests to rescue captive princes from evil sorcerers); also there are a lot of memorable characters, like the robber girl and the talking crows. And some wonderful scenes. The scene where the Snow Queen steals Kay away reminds me of Edmund meeting the White Witch in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe; although of course Andersen’s scene was written about 100 years earlier. I wonder if Lewis was either consciously or sub-consciously inspired by it.
So, see Frozen if you need your Disney fix, but I don’t think it’s one of their better movies. And go read “The Snow Queen”. Right now!