Disney’s Frozen is one of a few movies I had to see a couple of times before I got it. I am not a fan of musicals, didn’t care for its visual look, and found it too girlie. After all, Frozen has two young heroines and lots of lilac, lavendar and periwinkle.
Given that it became the most successful animated film ever, I felt compelled to give Frozen another chance. So I watched it with the script in hand. Soon it became obvious that I had missed something. This time around, I was blown away by its refreshing visual splendour, intelligence and genuinely moving storyline.
Walt Disney first tried to adapt H.C. Andersen’s The Snow Queen for the screen in 1937. It took John Lasseter – of Pixar fame – to come around and guide it to success as an Executive Producer.
This only happened in 2012, shortly after Pixar’s purchase by Disney.
Box Office Queen
The back story of Disney’s attempts to get this one to the screen is riveting. Finally, 75 years after Walt’s first attempt, Lasseter teamed producer Peter Del Vecho with Tarzan director Chris Buck and writer/co-director Jennifer Lee. Frozen was released in the winter of 2013.
It beat every other movie of that year at the B.O. — and every other animation in history.
Still, it took me a while before I appreciated the film. I’ve always enjoyed its first act, and in my writing classes, I often show the scene where Anna meets with Prince Hans. This largely verbal ‘meet cute’ is cleverly constructed around a few simple, funny action beats. Without seeing the full film, you might argue it seems somewhat formulaic. Only, later in the movie you realise you were put on the wrong foot, as not all is what it seems.
Against Type [Spoiler]
In quite a few movies – Avatar and Toy Story 3 are examples – the mentor turns out to be the story’s villain.
Frozen produces a shapeshifter that is a lot less common, and darker. Here, the character who turns out to be unreliable is the heroine’s love interest.
You might expect this in a Hitchcock thriller; not so much in a 4-quadrant Disney kids animation.
To me, this is exactly what makes the movie fascinating. It is structured as a full-blown heroine’s journey, yet subverts the archetypes along the way.
No matter how much I love this romantic inciting incident at the beginning of Frozen, it’s not my favourite scene. The movie moment that enthralled me the most sits somewhere just before the movie’s halfway point.
On their journey, the characters of Anna and Sven encounter Elsa’s childhood snowman Olaf. He was brought to life inadvertently by Elsa, and in a song he dreams of seeing and experiencing summer for the first time.
The songs in this movie are fabulous. They reveal character, move the story forward, and are super catchy to boot. (*)
Should you want to know how songs are printed in a script, check out the Frozen screenplay. Just watch the video below and enter your details to receive it. You’ll find the songs are printed in BLUE CAPS.
In the song In Summer, Olaf evokes the longing for the unattainable, something I believe everyone can relate to.
“Winter’s a good time to stay in and cuddle, but put me in summer and I’ll be a … [stares into a puddle] … happy snowman!”
The theme of the scene is somewhat reminiscent of Pixar’s 2010’s short film Day And Night, which was packaged before Toy Story 3.
While Olaf celebrates his pipe dream of a hot summer day, we are aware that the world won’t remain frozen forever.
When inevitably thaw will come, what will happen to Olaf? We adore him!
At the end of the movie, this question will get an unpredictable, and satisfying payoff.
Frozen is brilliant. Girlie, yes, and great.
Watch the clip below and receive the Frozen script in your inbox!
(*) Co-writer/composer Kristen Anderson-Lopez is credited as “additional story by”.
Karel Segers wrote his first produced screenplay at age 17. Today he is a story analyst with experience in acquisition, development and production. He has trained students worldwide, and worked with half a dozen Academy Award nominees. Karel speaks more European languages than you have fingers on your left hand, which he is still trying to find a use for in his hometown of Sydney, Australia. The languages, not the fingers.