Saturday, February 15, 2014

Frozen (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway


"Frozen" by Walt Disney Studios is a brisk and lively tale loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen and highlights the verve of Jennifer Lee, the first female director of a Disney animation studio vehicle.

Elsa, princess of Arendelle is born with the gift of magic. She adores her younger sister Anna and they are inseparable, playing together in the creation of snow beings. Because of an unfortunate accident during one of the conjurings, Anna hits her head with a presumed concussion.

The royal consensus is that Elsa's magic is growing icily caustic and malevolent and she must shield her hands from the public with blue rubber gloves.

Anna recovers but Elsa blames herself for her sister's past impact with a hard and jagged splinter of ice and she goes into exile, closing the castle gates.

Elsa becomes the bipolar queen of the North Pole of sorts, afraid of her shadow self.

This is a very sensitive and emotional meditation about positive and negative human impulses symbolized by magic. With dialogue like "stay away...I'm dangerous" Elsa's struggle parallels something of a serious illness.

Despite some psychological overtones which make the film all the more interesting, "Frozen" is no downer. There are rousing musical numbers, notably "Let It Go" which is up for an Academy Award this year with music and lyrics by Kristen Anderson-Lopez.

The song itself is a semi-Nietzschean  statement of embracing one's "dark" side and making sorcery work  positively.

But all is not philosophical. There are lots of belly laughs to be had with a gentle Viking (Bolt director Chris Williams) and a self deprecating snowman Olaf (Josh Gad) in the mode of comedian Buddy Hackett. Olaf is an unavoidable laugh riot with his detachable, balled body and an unrequited love for summer.

The film skillfully weaves Hans Christian Andersen with "Sleeping Beauty". And, but not least, there is an unmistakeable nod to singer Bonnie Raitt when Anna's bright red hair is streaked with frosts of winter.

One can in fact see "Frozen" as a country western tangle of tears: two sisters torn apart by a God-given gift that leads to woe, with Anna between two men (the disingenuous  Hans and the earnest but gullible Owen Wilson-ish Kristoff) left in the condition of perpetual winter. Even  Kristoff is unemployed with no one buying his ice.

Taylor Swift, take notes!

All comparison aside it is best to just enjoy "Frozen" as it is, a thoughtful and emotive fantasy that proves jaunty and entertaining with a spirit far from lukewarm.

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