Frozen is a Disney princess film that follows closely in the footsteps of Tangled and, to some extent, Pixar's Brave. Like the "Rapunzel" update before it, Frozen is ostensibly meant to be a modernized, musical retelling of Hans Christian Andersen's "The Snow Queen," though, you know, with 95% of the story excised and rewritten. Adding up what remains of the original fairy tale amounts to roughly a reindeer and, well, a queen with icy powers. Purists may be disappointed, but many will find the revision a welcome one. Though the milquetoast, white skinned, blonde character design may be a bit too reminiscent of smirking Rapunzel for some haters, Disney gets everything else right with Frozen. After decades of criticism on their seemingly passive princesses, Frozen represents another strong step (or two) in the right direction.
The story's construction is less old school fairy tale and more Broadway musical, though it follows the structure of both to a T. We are introduced, in the once upon a time land of Norway, to two young princesses, Anna and Elsa. Elsa, the elder, was born with magical powers. She can produce snow and ice out of thin air, much to the delight of her playful little sister. When Elsa accidentally injures Anna, though, all bets are off. Anna's memory is wiped by a Troll King, and with no memory of her sister's magic, she can't understand why they've become distant. Meanwhile, Elsa is forced to take her ever-growing powers underground, to hide in her room, try to control herself, sheath her weaponized hands in gloves, and ignore Anna lest she injure her again. When the King and Queen die in an accident, the girls live an even lonelier existence, wholly detached from one another. Things change when Elsa comes of age. The castle gates are opened for her coronation and the sisters are reunited with each other even as they interact with outside parties for the first time. In true stage spectacular style, character grievances and motivations are spelled out in song, and the trajectory becomes clear from square one.