Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Frozen: A Study

I'm on Christmas break and "Do you want to build a snowman?" is everyone's LSS. I love Frozen's songs. And I have a feeling a lot of women my age can relate to being both foul and fair while wishing someone would realize that they have frozen hearts worth mining. I love the concept. I love the idea. I love the messages they were trying to impart. But is it just me, or is Disney storytelling getting a little... lazy?

I'm not trying to bash Frozen, let's get that straight. I love Disney and I think they should continue making 3D movies with songs. What I am about to say here are merely my observations and opinions and does not in any way mean to demean the film. I think it's a good study, though, of a good concept that wasn't developed properly.


For one, Elsa was a character with such potential, but I don't think they set her motives and emotions down very clearly. She's free. Free from what? Nobody was trying to control her. Her parents? Show that some more. Make the audience feel the suffocating control over her life as heir. Play on her guilt some more.

She says she's letting go. What is she letting of? Her not being able to use her power? Show that she liked her power in the first place. That way there's a conflict, an internal struggle going on. The whole idea of having to play the good girl has so much emotional potential. They should have used it some more. She had this whole glamorous transformation, but it was all clothes. It never translated to her powers or her attitude. Given the story, the song shouldn't have been "Letting Go." It should have been "Shutting In." She wasn't defiant, as the song would have us feel. She didn't rise like the break of dawn.

For a character, she never really decided to do something that was not based on her fears. For a character, she didn't really grow. And the way she suddenly realized love was the answer at the end of the film, then automatically suddenly knew how to control her powers was one of the points I particularly referred to when I said the storytelling was lazy.

Then there's Anna. She was portrayed as the happy spirited girl who was supposed to be needy for love. She wasn't needy for love. It wasn't quite shown, anyway. Yes, she keeps trying to reach out to her sister. But show some effects. Show how this has affected her. If, as they imply, her sister's shutting her off gave rise to a complex, show the complex.

In storytelling, we have what we call the "Sho" or the support stage. When you show a fact, the next stage is to support the fact. When you present the character as a damaged character, support that statement by presenting some situations that show him in that light. So if you want to show Anna as a girl who is hungry for love, present that fact and SUPPORT that fact with some situations. As a result if her being alone, she was presented as a girl who would jump too quickly into a relationship: the one with Hans. Okay, it was presented. Where's the support? What is the implication of jumping in a relationship too quickly? You get burned? What if we added an incident in the past where she was burned when she jumped in without thinking? That will give Elsa's words more weight, wouldn't it?

The love story was an afterthought. She didn't really long for it. It wasn't presented as something she sought after as a result of her sister's reclusiveness even though that was supposed to be the intent. Anna has been going after Elsa's attention for the longest time. Why the sudden shift to a man? This needs a trigger.

Let's go to Kristoff. Kristoff loved the ice. He was fascinated with the snow as Elsa and her family rode by at the beginning of the movie. When Kristoff and Anna saw Elsa's ice castle, Kristoff was fascinated with the workmanship. They didn't use this information very much. Imagine if Elsa suddenly encounters this man who thinks her powers are awesome. Wouldn't it be such a refreshing change for Elsa from how her parents always regard her power as something to be feared? I don't know what the writers originally planned, but I can't help but think the Frozen Heart song was supposed to be a foreshadowing of a relationship between the ice queen and a man who is fascinated and a bit afraid of what she can do. And only a man who knows the art and science of ice can appreciate the beauty and power of it.

I'm sad for Hans. It felt like he was discarded. It felt like the writers suddenly changed their minds about who to give to Anna, but since part of the film was already animated, it was decided to conveniently get Hans out of the way by turning him into a bad guy at the end of the film. The character isn't consistent. He was fun and sweet and maybe a little naive in the beginning of the film. Then suddenly, he was ruthless in his ambition. Inconsistent characterization. One may argue that he was hiding it. But even if you hide motive, personality will come through. Let him be more than willing to take the power Anna gave him as the one in charge. And go beyond. Do things some people would question if the sisters would allow should they be running things.

Again this is just my opinion, but I think the story team should have sat down and threshed out the story a bit more.

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