Frozen: Let It Go And Revisit The Disney Phenomenon After 10 Years

(Top to Bottom) ELSA and ANNA in FROZEN. ©2013 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

It was just over ten years ago that Walt Disney Animation Studios launched Frozen in theaters and audiences have not been able to let it go.

I still remember leaving the Cinemark Tinseltown USA theater in 2013. My thought was that this is the best animated Disney film since The Lion King. Some ten years and change after my first viewing and my thoughts are no different. Disney Animation’s 53rd feature would become a juggernaut at the box office and spawn a new Disney franchise. The film would lead to a sequel, animated shorts and specials, a Broadway musical, and more. Following the 2019 sequel, another two films are on the way.

When the kingdom of Arendelle finds itself in an eternal winter, fearless optimist Anna (Kristen Bell) teams up with Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) and reindeer Sven on an journey to find Anna’s sister, Elsa (Idina Menzel). It is not so easy as it appears and they meet Olaf (Josh Gad), a comedic snowman that puts Frosty to shame. Together, they must brave the elements to save Arendelle. Oh yeah, Prince Hans of the Southern Isles (Santino Fontana) is not marriage material. He is right up there with the jerk that is Gaston from Beauty and the Beast. Meanwhile, the Duke of Weselton (Alan Tudyk) is invited to Elsa’s coronation and there are many jokes at his expense.

Elsa would not have left in isolation if not for the fact that she nearly killed Anna. In fact, she almost does kill Anna, who freezes after being iced in the heart. It’s Disney so we know that an act of true love will mean a happy ending. Anyway, Elsa and Anna’s parents sought out the Troll King years earlier so that Anna could forget Elsa’s magic. Unfortunately, this also means putting a dent in the sisters’ relationship. I’m not saying it fully estranges them but it comes pretty darn close. Anyway, I’ll stop rehashing the plot and turn things over to our favorite snowman. Which reminds me, do you want to build a snow man?

In terms of voice talents, what else can really be said that has not been said already? Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, and Josh Gad make this film what it is. I really cannot imagine anyone else playing their roles. For what it’s worth, actress Kirsten Bell fulfilled a lifelong dream by voicing a role in an animated Disney film. I mean, who wouldn’t want to voice a role in a Disney film, especially when it comes to portraying a Disney Princess?!?

Frozen was not Disney’s first attempt at bringing the Hans Christen Andersen tale to the screen. Walt Disney had tried years earlier in what would have been a co-production with Samuel Goldwyn. World War II halted these efforts and Disney would shelve Andersen adaptations until The Little Mermaid in 1988. Attempts would relaunch in the 1990s but nothing really pushed forward until John Lasseter brought Chris Buck back into the Disney fold in 2008. It took a few years but Buck, Jennifer Lee, and Shane Morris finally found a way to bring The Snow Queen to the screen. The game-changer into finding their story only came after reworking Anna into Elsa’s younger sister. While the original Andersen tale imagines the Snow Queen as a villain, the film is substantially different in this regard.

In co-directing the film, Jennifer Lee made Disney Animation history by becoming their first female director to helm a feature film. How this took so long is beyond me! There is really no excuse for the studio taking until 2013.

Art director Michael Giaimo designs a look that is similar to 2010’s Tangled. The style is a blend of modern CGI with classic hand-drawn animation. There were trips in 2012 to research and develop what would become Frozen‘s stunning visual ook–this was even while they were still working on the film’s script. The fact that they were still having issues this late in the game is what truly amazes me about Frozen becoming an iconic classic. But hey, sometimes the best things are worth waiting for, right?

Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez pen the songs while Christophe Beck composes the score. The contributions from the Lopezes include the iconic “Let It Go” amongst numerous other catchy songs that parents probably don’t want to ever hear again. That speaks to how much of an iconic classic that Frozen has become in the past ten years. If I had a nickel for every time that I heard a parent complain! I cannot tell you the number of times that I’ve listened to the soundtrack. It’s one of my go-to soundtracks while flying, next to John Williams. Anyway, their work in the film rivals the previous Disney output from Alan Menken and Howard Ashman.

I also started to really embrace the lyrics of “Let It Go” on my own journey to coming out as transgender in 2015: “Be the good girl you always have to be.” There’s a theory that Elsa is perceived as a lesbian because of her differences. Disney didn’t confirm this in the 2019 sequel but they also didn’t give her a significant other. Until there is such confirmation, fans will just have to offer up their own theories about Elsa. Meanwhile, Disney Animation has not done well in the LGBTQ lead department to say the least.

Ten years later, Frozen remains one of the iconic films in the Disney library and can hold its own against any of the Disney Renaissance films or earlier classics.

DIRECTORS: Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee
CAST: Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Santino Fontana, Josh Gad, Alan Tudyk

Disney released Frozen in theaters on November 22, 2013, opening wide on November 27. Grade: 5/5

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.