After watching Disney’s Frozen, it’s obvious that the directors were influenced by the classic fable The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Anderson. They wanted to take a risk with changing Disney’s formula of the hero going on a quest to defeat the villain, rescuing the damsel in distress, and living happily ever after. Instead, the story questions one’s identity, being the hero of your own story, and the love two sisters share for one another.
Disney’s Frozen Plot
Disney’s Frozen (2013) was inspired by The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Anderson, and has earned huge commercial success gaining many awards, two spin-off shorts, a sequel, and a Broadway musical. During Queen Elsa’s coronation, Anna, played by Kristen Bell, angers her sister Elsa, played by Idina Menzel, revealing her ice powers blanketing Arendelle in snow and ice.
Anna was trying to ask for Elsa’s blessing to be engaged to Hans, played by Santino Fontana. Hoping to talk some sense into her sister, Anna is helped by Kristoff, played by Jonathan Groff. On their adventure to rid Arendelle of its eternal winter, Anna and Kristoff are joined by his reindeer Sven, talking trolls, Olaf, a magical talking snowman, created by Elsa, played by Josh Glad.
The Snow Queen Plot
The devil, in the form of an evil troll, has made a magic mirror that distorts the appearance of everything that it reflects. The magic mirror fails to reflect the good and beautiful aspects of people and things and magnifies their bad and ugly aspects. The devil, who is headmaster at a troll school, takes the mirror and his pupils throughout the world, delighting in using it to distort everyone and everything; the mirror makes the loveliest landscapes look like “boiled spinach.”
They attempt to carry the mirror into heaven to make fools of the angels and of God, but the higher they lift it, the more the mirror shakes with laughter, and it slips from their grasp and falls back to earth, shattering into billions of pieces, some no larger than a grain of sand. These splinters are blown by the wind all over the Earth and get into people’s hearts and eyes, freezing their hearts like blocks of ice and making their eyes like the troll-mirror itself, seeing only the bad and ugly in people and things. There was only one way to get it out.
Years later, a little boy Kai and a little girl Gerda live next door to each other in the garrets of buildings with adjoining roofs in a large city. One could get from one’s home to the other’s just by stepping over the gutters of each building. The two families grow vegetables and roses in window boxes placed on the gutters. Gerda and Kai have a window-box garden to play in, and they become devoted to each other as playmates, and as close as if they were siblings.
Kai’s grandmother tells the children about the Snow Queen, who is ruler over the “snow bees” — snowflakes that look like bees. As bees have a queen, so do the snow bees, and she is seen where the snowflakes cluster the most. Looking out of his frosted window one winter, Kai sees the Snow Queen, who beckons him to come with her. Kai draws back in fear from the window.
By the following spring, Gerda has learned a song that she sings to Kai: Roses flower in the vale; there we hear Child Jesus’ tale! Because roses adorn the window box garden, the sight of roses always reminds Gerda of her love for Kai. On a pleasant summer day, splinters of the troll-mirror get into Kai’s heart and eyes while he and Gerda are looking at a picture book in their window-box garden. Kai becomes cruel and aggressive. He destroys their window-box garden, he makes fun of his grandmother, and he no longer cares about Gerda, since all of them now appear bad and ugly to him.
The following winter, Kai goes out with his sled to play in the snowy market square and was the custom hitches it to a curious white sleigh carriage, driven by the Snow Queen, who appears as a woman in a white fur-coat. Outside the city she reveals herself to Kai and kisses him twice: once to numb him from the cold, and a second time to make him forget about Gerda and his family; a third kiss would kill him. She takes Kai in her sleigh to her palace. The people of the city conclude that Kai died in the nearby river.
I applaud the risk Disney took with the film. I prefer the original story by Hans Christian Anderson. The themes are darker and throughout the story it reveals what a person is willing to sacrifice to obtain their goals. The Snow Queen has a bleak ending, while Frozen follows the ideal of a happy ending. I do appreciate the idea of the sister’s saving each other with the love they share, rather than relying on a prince to save he day.
Furthermore, both Frozen and The Snow Queen falls on the concept that those who hearts are filled with darkness must be saved by love ones. Both Elsa and Kai are effected by the loneness that is brought upon by the bleak of winter needing those that care to bring wrath back into their lives. Frozen may be a brighter version of the tale, but the morals are still the same. That ignoring your emotions to protect your heart from sadness will become your own undoing.