RogerBW's Blog

Frozen 08 May 2014

2013, dir. Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee, Idina Menzel, Kristin Bell: IMDb / allmovie

The new queen flees from her coronation, plunges the country into winter, and disappears; her sister goes to find her.

What this could have been is the story of two sisters working out their complex relationship. But that's never explored quite as much as it might be; it's used more as a standardised frame on which to hang the story. The story in turn is a frame for the songs and some set-piece animations, and the songs are mostly frames for more animation (with the one stunning exception, which everyone's already seen and which won the Academy Award). I can easily see this film growing out of storyboards for the visuals; everything else ends up being in service to them. This isn't Pixar, of course, but neither is Pixar any more.

Indeed, the break in the relationship between the sisters is essentially an arbitrary one: as young children, the older one (with powers of ice magic) accidentally injures the younger, and for reasons never explained her memory of her sister's powers is removed as part of the process of healing her. This just made no sense to me, except insofar as it was setup for the rest of the story. Hey ho.

There's a bit too much comic relief for my taste. Sven the reindeer (actually his build is more that of a moose) is excellent and non-verbal, but Olaf the snowman with his constant line of patter feels as though he belongs in a completely different film. Still, at least there are no fart jokes or "comical" crotch injuries.

Really, the impressive thing here is not that it's done well – it's done pretty well, don't get me wrong – but that it's done at all, and done by Disney. Yeah, the parents die, because some Disney traditions are just too strong to get away from. But both sisters get more to do than just sitting around until the prince rescues them. They solve their own problems, and they rescue other people. There is a handsome prince, sure, but this really isn't his story.

Disney does something feminist. It's as unexpected as the Fox network showing Cosmos.

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