Disney Animation Studio’s highest grossing film to date, Frozen, took home Best Animated Feature at the 86th Annual Academy Awards. Frozen also won the Best Original Song award for Let It Go which was performed by Idina Menzel who voices the character of Elsa for the film.
A hit among moviegoers and critics alike so far Frozen has earned over $388 million in North America and over $600 million in other countries for a total of over $1 billion worldwide. Critics have likened Frozen to Disney’s Renaissance era, comparing the animation, themes, and musical numbers to that of classic Disney gems such as The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King. Similar to Disney’s film Tangled; Frozen animators used a combination of CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) and traditional hand drawn animation to create its unique look and icy landscapes.
Being met with a flurry of industry awards Frozen has also won a Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Feature Film, the BAFTA Award for Best Animated Film, five Annie Awards (including Best Animated Feature and Best Voice Acting for Josh Gad as the voice of Olaf), and two Critics’ Choice Awards for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song (“Let It Go”).
Frozen was inspired by the dark fairy tale titled “The Snow Queen” by Hans Christian Andersen. It was first conceptualized in the early 1940’s when Walt Disney and Samuel Goldwyn attempted to collaborate on a biography about the author and poet, combining animated sequences of his stories as well as live-action footage of his life but the film was shelved when difficulties arose. One of the contributing factors for shelving the project was the inability for animators to find a way to adapt the flawed Snow Queen for modern audiences.
Still seeing the potential in Andersen’s tale, The Snow Queen was adapted numerous times over the years but never made it through production until, in 2011, Disney announced the production under a new crew and the films’ title was changed to Frozen.
Encountering similar problems with the story-line, the film underwent a slew of story adaptions until the characters were relatable and relevant. A major breakthrough for the production team was rewriting Anna (who was based on the Gerda character from The Snow Queen) as the younger sibling of Elsa, which established a new dynamic between the characters. Then with the composition of the song Let It Go, they were able to re-conceptualize Elsa as a complex, vulnerable, and sympathetic character.
In an interview with Brendon Connelly of Bleedingcool.com, Producer Peter Del Vecho said, “…This film has a lot of complicated characters and complicated relationships in it. There are times when Elsa does villainous things but because you understand where it comes from, from this desire to defend herself, you can always relate to her. ‘Inspired by’ means exactly that. There is snow and there is ice and there is a Queen, but other than that, we depart from it quite a bit. We do try to bring scope and the scale that you would expect but do it in a way that we can understand the characters and relate to them.”
The actors have received rave reviews for their portrayal of the characters. Kristen Bell, who voices Anna, told MTV News that while she has always loved Disney animation, there was something about the female characters that was unattainable to her. She said, “Their posture was too good and they were too well-spoken, and I feel like I really made this girl much more relatable and weirder and scrappier and more excitable and awkward. I’m really proud of that.”
The principle cast includes:
- Kristen Bell as Anna
- Idina Menzel as Elsa (The Snow Queen, sister to Anna)
- Jonathan Groff as the mountain man Kristoff
- Santino Fontana as Prince Hans
- Josh Gad as Olaf, a Snowman
- Alan Tudyk as the Duke of Weselton
- Chris Williams as Oaken, the owner of Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post and Sauna
Image: © Walt Disney Pictures