This is my official “Review” on the movie “Frozen.” It’s been on my to-do list for awhile.
I am very careful to call myself an “expert” on any topic, but in the case of Norway and Norse myth… I dare to say I am damn near qualified. What does this mean? It means, of all people, I am in a position to judge the movie “Frozen.” Not just as an expert on Norway, Norse myth, or Scandinavia… but as a mother who grew up during the Golden Age of Disney and who is now mothering a son and two daughters of my own (12 and 8).
Frozen released at the very end of my seven year exploration into the Scandinavian roots of the Norsemen. Months prior to its release, I had watched a man drink reindeer blood with the Sami. I studied their music, their cultures, their legends. I spent weeks watching YouTube videos on grouse hunting. Hunting in Europe is FAR DIFFERENT than hunting here in the States. I studied Nordic prose, their runes, translated their language from Old Norse. I ate, drank, slept the Prose Edda. Pushed my own sanity beyond the lines of madness to submerge myself in 10th century Norway while I carried on conversations with my characters and Norse gods. I know my shit. I know what little girls think of Frozen. I have two. I know what most people think of Frozen.
But what do I think?
I am starting with the animation because it is one of the only positive things I have to say about Frozen.
Disney nailed the scope of the mountains. Yes. Mountains rise right out of the sea in Norway. Thick, pine forests grow right out of the water as if the forests in Norway are too eager to wait beyond the sandy shores to begin. Waterfalls flow right off the rocky cliffs into the ocean. Not a river or stream, to trickle on down into a delta. No. From mountain top to sea. That is how the water flows in Norway. In some places anyway. Well… The animation was excellent. Disney sent all their animators to Norway to learn how to animate light on ice and snow. They did an excellent job. Not! Worth it! Aside from the animation, the movie had nothing else going for it.
I loathed it. Now let me tell you why.
I’m a fantasy writer. My imagination ignited when I saw Elsa’s magical ability. My heart soared when I saw just what this child could do with it and then…
The trolls came in.
The trolls. I don’t think Disney has ever Disneytized anything this badly before. And I loathe their rendition of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. I mean… Did those morons down in Disney even READ Victor Hugo!? Another post for another rant.
“Trolls” are the modern word from “Trol” which is Old Norse for “monster.” That… is it! When my Kallan calls the Dvergar “Trols,” she is really calling them “Monsters” and, in their case, they were! Okay, so it’s a kid’s movie. But Trol referred to anyone or anything with those characteristics. I could even accept a hideous Changeling. But no! They make them into sweet little gummy bears!
Okay. It’s Disney, Angela. Let it go. *heheheheee… Totally unintended pun*
So I ignored their gummy bears and heeded their wise words. “Fear is her enemy. She must learn to embrace her power.” So I am like, “Excellent! This kid is going to be sent off to a Nordic Yoda to learn her craft! SWEET!!” WRONG!! The parents are instead going to nurture the fear and lock her in her room. They are going to do everything they can to instill fear into their child, segregate, isolate, and imprison her so she can go Vader on their asses.
I know what this is! This is magicism— They are magicists! Those bastards!
“Can you at least tell me where she got her powers!?” I screamed that at the TV for two hours.
Nope! Odinn forbid the writers put any THOUGHT into this plot at all, which was so loosely based on Hans Christian Anderson that is an offense to even credit the true author here (Hans… I know now why I called Han Solo “Hans” initially).
So… The parents segregate their gifted child… Taught her to be SOLELY dependent on fear and prison wardens… Now is a good time to die.
Old Story/New Idea?
Let’s steal away from the plot a bit because we all know it sucked. Part of Scandinavian lore brings me to Denmark… and a certain Danish writer… I have a duckling on my desk named “Hans” after this writer. Have you ever heard of “The Snow Queen?” Most people have not.
I’m getting a cup of coffee. You read this article from Wikipedia.
Okay… So I won’t touch THAT allegorical plot with the nine foot pole of C.S. Lewis…
Fact: In the winter, reindeer hooves descend rows of spikes that act like ice shoes so they can walk in the snow. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be able to handle the terrain. Their knees click so they can hear each other through the Norwegian white outs caused by the snows. Reindeer grunt. The males are called bulls. The females are cows. The males and females both have antlers. Males shed their antlers in the winter time. The fuzz on the antlers shed and causes bloody rags of skin that hang during this time.
I told you… I know every stupid thing about reindeer right down to what their blood tastes like… salty meat that coagulates as you drink it so it’s a kind of lumpy slime that tastes like salted meat. I may have put that in Dolor and Shadow… I can not remember if Rune drinks the reindeer blood or not. I’m just saying…
Aside from Ana being a snobby bitch and the cause of all her sister’s problems, I liked Elsa’s character and Olaf. Okay.. Olaf was the only good thing that came out of this movie. The reindeer Svenn written in the likeness of a dog… What an original idea! Oh, wait…
Another huge issue I had with Elsa… and all Disney characters for that matter save Belle, is the fact that these girls are isolated their whole lives, but seem to have no psychological disorders after! I’m sorry! If your father locks you in a room your whole life, you are going to be MESSED UP. And Elsa was, true to character! But at the end she was suddenly “Okay” as if the last twenty years of her life didn’t exist. CRAP! Okay, so I’ll look the other way. This is actually why I LOVE the musical Into the Woods… THE MUSICAL! NOT THE MOVIE! Because Sondheim gives Rapunzel all the psychological disorders that come with her lifestyle including, postpartum depression, bipolar, social anxiety, hysteria, and Personality Disorder. heheheheeee…. I love Sondheim. Another movie Disney botched. See my review on that one here.
I think the real character issue I had was Anna. Anna. Could a person be more stupid, selfish, and just… stupid!? Her idiocy was the cause of the freak accident in the beginning. The dumb girl wouldn’t listen. And then she lashed out at her sister and talked smack about her behind her back. Yes! Another lesson I want my girls to learn. Then I got pissed because she decided to marry someone on the first date! I mean aside from Frank Baum, who does that? But Anna’s stupidity didn’t stop there! She’s also the moron who threw snowballs at the 18 foot abominable snow monster. I need to watch the movie again just to tally up all the stupid stuff Anna does.
Frozen lost me when the father decided to lock his daughter up and enforce the lesson that her powers were something to fear. Did you hear ANYTHING the green Gummy Bear said to you!?!? But that is barely the problem I had with this film.
The movie encouraged my to take up my pitchforks and epic bad guy song when the gummy bears sang “Fixer Upper.” it’s because of this song that I don’t own this film. I repeat, it is only because of this song, that I do not own the film. You can read the entire song lyrics here, but the part I want to focus on is the chorus. You know, the part they repeat over and over to drum it into your head.
Did you get that!?
So he’s a bit of a fixer-upper,
But we know what to do
The way to fix up this fixer-upper
Is to fix him up with you!
If I could, I would wrap my hands around the lyricist and slap him! This is not the message I need my children learning! And adding the line
“We’re not sayin’ you can change him,”
Does not negate the rest of the song or the message! So, at this song, I was done. I watched the movie to the end, which only felt like Disney was trying too hard to prove they weren’t Disney anymore by acting like a bunch of Femi-nazies. Okay, so that’s low.
This tangent is so long, that it made up a new article, which you can read here.
So what about the music?
With the first chord, I grinned. Sami music! I was stoked. I had just written a chapter in Dolor and Shadow describing the music. I was thrilled to see the accuracy… until I read one ignorant reviewer liken it to “Lion King” and “What is up with that?” I grimaced. “Moron,” I muttered and continued.
I just need to say, before this rant. I love the song “Let I Go,” BUT unlike the average American, I don’t listen to the radio… or watch TV. So I was not subjected to the 365 days of endless playing of said song. I sympathize with all of you, and am able to view this song as a normal every day song because, for me, it was never played to death.
I adore musicals. My favorite composer is Stephen Sondheim… Oh, let me translate this for those who don’t know… The composer who wrote “Into the Woods” and “Sweeney Todd”… That’s Sondheim. He was also the lyricist of West Side Story. Company is a WONDERFUL musical for adults! Watch it! I adore Sondheim and knew the musicals long before they were movies. Sherman and Sherman… they wrote Mary Poppins… but also, 1776. When I watched “Saving Mr. Banks” I knew EXACTLY who those two men were… Oooh! The guys who wrote “Little Shop of Horrors” also wrote “Under The Sea,” “A Whole New World,” and “Be Our Guest.” Alan Menken and Howard Ashman. Yep! They wrote “Suddenly Seymour” and “It’s Supper Time!” Menken recently wrote “Mother Knows Best.” Yep! They brought Menken back for Tangled! Have I done a Tangled review yet? Oh, that one is coming!
Howard’s last movie was “Aladdin.” He died before Aladdin was finished and Disney cut his favorite song from the line up. “Proud of My Boy” was supposed to be sung by Aladdin instead of the “Reprise” you hear in the film.
This is the only recorded version I could find of this song. It is sung by Clay Aiken and I had to purchase a whole Disney Pop album I didn’t want to get it.
When Ashman died, Disney cut his song—this song. Menken was pissed on behalf of Ashman. Due to grief, Menken was unable to return for the next movie so Disney hired Elton John to do Lion King instead (I told you. I know the Golden Age of Disney, which is a real thing. Google it). To capture the likeness of The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin, Disney brought back Menken for Tangled. Menken did not write the music for Frozen.
I know my musicals. I studied music composition for nearly a decade. I know the form used in both classic 1950’s Broadway (Rodger’s and Hammerstein), 1980’s Broadway (Andrew Lloyd Webber with the musical opera), and modern Broadway (Avenue Q, The Producers, Spamalot, Wicked)
But Frozen? Wow! Too much music! Would they ever shut up? I love musicals, but damn! It was a musical opera, which is great IF I’m not watching a Broadway musical! The remake of The Producers has less irrelevant singing. Let me show you what I mean… Like writing, music has “genre” writing. In music, we call it form.
One of the things I studied with my musical training was when a song should exist in a musical. Yes. There is a formula to this.
- You have the “intro” song usually the “this is my dream” song
- The “I’ll sing this reprise while I sulk” song.
- The “bad guy” song (Always my favorite… Check out “In the Dark of the Night” from Anastasia)
- The “What will I do now?” song or the “What have I done?” song or “Damn! Look at these obstacles!” song.
Perfect example of this is “What Have I Done?” from The Nightmare Before Christmas.
- There is the movable “Fun song” to intro the next act song. Like “Hakuna Matata” or “Under the Sea.” The “Fun Song” can be inserted anywhere, but usually accompanies a massive change in plot or mood. It usually introduced the darker part of the plot like “Under the Sea” (The Little Mermaid) and “I Have a Dream” (Tangled). “The Egg” from 1776 does this.
- There is the “I’ll sing this reprise while I think it over” song
That is the reprise to “Mother Knows Best” from Tangled… also, Aladdin’s “Prince Ali Reprise” song.
- And the conclusion, which usually is a final reprise of the intro song as the movie ends. I don’t like to count this as a song because it is only the final chords of the cadenza to wrap up the score. (Translation: It is the end of the music and they need to end it neatly).
That is it! Six to seven songs max! But with Frozen!?
Let’s count Frozen’s.
- “Frozen Heart” Intro song… This is the Sami piece that sets the mood, but I felt this promised a style I never got.
- “Do You want to Build A Snowman” Intro song. I love this song and felt it was sufficient for the intro. I repeat, I love this song.
- “For the First Time in Forever” (Shoot Me) Intro song
- Love Is An Open Door *BANG* Intro song. Most irrelevant piece of garbage ever written for a Disney musical. Scratch that. Any musical. Yeah, I’m merciless. So was this song.
Four Introduction Songs. OMFG! Get this movie off the ground! And not one of them establishes a dream. In fact, no one ever speaks about their goals or defines what it is they want in this film. “Do You want to Build A Snowman” establishes a problem within the story, around the song… The other songs do nothing, but provide entertainment value (because the plot wasn’t good enough in my opinion).
- Let It Go
Finally! A real song! This is your “What will I do now?” song and is equivalent to the “Poor Unfortunate Souls” or the “A Whole New World” song. And I just want to say, this was the part of the film that was ENJOYABLE to watch.
- Reindeer Are Better Than People
- In Summer
- Fixer Upper
Three Fun Songs? Imagine Little Mermaid with three songs like “Under The Sea.” In Summer was awesome! It introduces a new character and redefines the new mood for the film. The other two songs do nothing, but add entertainment value within an entertainment medium (The Movie). WTF?
The reprise? That is your “I’ll sing this reprise while I think things over” song. This is another part of the film I loved. I relate a lot to Elsa. Elsa’s argument, her logic, her reasoning… I get Elsa. See Broken.
Overall, the musical formula used for this film was just… not traditional. Which is great… The composer thought outside of the box… And gave me too much irrelevant music that I wished would end.
Okay… SO my real beef with the film… Really…
I saw this girl with magic powers and was expecting the gummy bears to say, “We know someone who can help.”
This is how I wanted the film to go.
They take Elsa and pass her onto the wise wizard of the North who teaches Elsa how to use her power, but then she becomes corrupt because power does that… or because the “wizard” is really a bad man with intentions to use Elsa to take control of the kingdom. Now THAT would have been cool! So the wizard uses Elsa to kill the king and queen. She has no idea these are her parents. The wizard moves in playing Elsa as a weapon when Elsa meets Anna and the sisters reunite not knowing they are sisters. Maybe they become friends. Maybe they have a connection. Elsa goes behind the back of the North Wizard and visits Anna. There is a great war and Elsa kills Anna not knowing they are really sisters and then, to avenge her family, Elsa turns on the gummy bears and kills them all! Elsa is left ruling the castle and the kingdom alone, but as her rightful place as queen and such a large price to pay.
The End 🙂
I like to think that is the real story Disney failed to show us. Damn bastards.