It seems that there has been something of a resurgence of the traditional Disney princess in recent years, as the animation studio have released the likes of Tangled, The Princess and the Frog and Brave (alongside Pixar), all featuring strong-willed, inspirational female leads. It’s a trend that has continued on in Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee’s Frozen, which remarkably, is the very first Disney animation to have been directed by a woman.
Based upon Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen, our princess in this instance is Anna, voiced by Kristen Bell. She’s a sprightly romanticist, dreaming of a world where she falls in love with the perfect man – but more importantly, she hopes to forge a relationship with her estranged older sister, Queen Elsa (Idina Menzel). The pair were separated when young, as Elsa bears a dark, uncontrollable force, whereby she can turn anything to ice with just her fingertips. In a rare public appearance, Elsa loses control over her supernatural powers, and to avoid any further harm to her people, she deserts her kingdom for a life alone; building a palace deep in the forest. Anna is determined to convince her sister to come home, so sets off into the wild snow storm alongside the enterprising and courageous Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) and his reindeer Sven.
On the surface, Frozen is a dark and enchanting tale – however it’s one that is equipped with a frivolous, good-humoured atmosphere, epitomised in the somewhat tragic, yet immensely endearing, snowman Olaf (Josh Gad) – who our protagonists meet on their expedition. All of the characters are well fleshed out, and more importantly, they’re flawed. There’s no place for any Prince Charming’s in this tale, as instead we are treated to more humanised, realistic creations, as Anna dutifully carries this film with a distinct affability. Even Elsa is wonderfully judged, as effectively, she is the villain of the piece – yet she’s not conventionally evil, and instead we find empathy for her, as she doesn’t want to be cruel, she simply doesn’t have a choice.
Frozen is just charming cinema, and despite what the title may have you believe, it’s a warm and gracious production. Complete with a series of catchy, musical numbers too (certainly enhanced by the fact the cast are predominantly made up of Broadway stars, rather than mere A-listers to bring in the punters) – Frozen may well be the most accomplished Disney animation since the turn of the millennium.