2013-11-27

Disney’s Frozen – Recapturing that Classic Disney Magic

by Yo Snyder

Great music. Charming, endearing characters. Lots of heart.
These are the ingredients one will find in just about every classic Disney
film, and they’re the ingredients that make Frozen
a modern classic in its own right. I’ve heard a lot of comparisons to Beauty and the Beast and the heyday of
Disney animation in the late 90s, and while it’s good, it’s not quite that
good. Don’t me wrong, it is really good, but it’s not quite in the same league
as the first animated feature to ever be nominated for Best Picture. Still,
between this, Tangled and Wreck-It Ralph, Disney seems to be
entering another sort of heyday of Disney animation with the CG era.

Speaking of another heyday for Disney animation, let me just
say that the short at the beginning of this film really helps to reinforce the
notion that Disney is back on their A game. It’s easily one of the best, most
brilliant, most innovative use of the modern medium of animation I’ve seen
Disney do in quite some time. If you’re going to see Frozen in 3D, the main reason to do so is for this animated short.
What starts out looking like some long lost classic Mickey cartoon (bit of
trivia, it does use some rediscovered voice work of Walt Disney as Mickey)
turns into a brilliant mix of old and new with hand-drawn animation giving way
to fully rendered, gloriously 3D CG animation. And then, just to top itself, it
starts mixing the two up and then starts jumping back and forth between the two
styles. It’s just great stuff and great fun; it’s the best of what Disney has
always been about in the realm of animation.

As for the main feature, it’s another example of what Disney
does best; fairy tales. This one is based on the Hans Christen Anderson fairy
tale of the Snow Queen, but as is
often the case, this is a very “Disney-fied” version of that story. In fact,
one of the best parts of this fairy tale is how it take some of the classic
Disney fairy tale elements and turns them upside down. A prince and princess
falling love at first and after just one dance? Not so much, in fact, that idea
gets some fair amount of ridicule here. Cute, talking animals? Well, there’s an
animal here, but it doesn’t talk, not really…well, he kind of does, but…you
know, just go see the movie, it’s hard to explain and entertaining to see.
While these are great fun to see all flipped around, other elements of classic
fairy tales remain firmly intact, such as the happily ever after. In truth,
that’s just something I wouldn’t want to see changed in a Disney fairy tale.

Another great feature of classic fairy tales is the fact
they often have a good moral to teach, and Frozen brings this to the forefront
once again. The moral here, as is mentioned several times in the film, is love
can melt a frozen heart. Love being the most powerful magic is often a theme in
most fairy tales, but here it isn’t about the romantic love found with a Prince
Charming; it’s actually something much deeper and more lasting. Plus, that
whole idea of “love melting a frozen heart”, that’s something that was
introduced long before there were movie theaters. The Bible tells us that
concept originated with God. It tells us that it’s his kindness that brings us
to repentance (Romans 2:4). In fact, when one stops to think about how God sent
his only son, Jesus Christ, to die a horrific death not because of anything he
had done but because of everything we have done, all just so we could go free,
find freedom and forgiveness, and enjoy the grace and love of God the father;
well, it’s hard to imagine anyone encountering that kind of love not having
their heart melt.

There was a time when Disney was synonymous with great,
family entertainment, with movies that everyone in the whole family could
enjoy. Then Pixar came along and basically usurped Disney’s place in that
regard. Now that Disney and Pixar are basically part of the same family, you
can see the old guard is learning a lot from the new up and comers. Pixar is
still the king of the heap when it comes to great movies, but Disney recent
efforts are re-establishing their own in house animation studio as a force to
be reckoned with once again. What makes Frozen
a success is instead of trying to chase after Pixar, it looks back to the
classics of Disney’s past. This film has some of the best music I’ve heard in a
Disney film in years. The songs are catchy, memorable, and most importantly
help push the story along. The characters are all enjoyable, and while the
story overall treads a familiar and safe path, it throws enough twists and
turns to surprise any complacent viewer who may think they’re just seeing another
standard fairy tale. Frozen is fun,
it’s beautiful, it’s filled with great music, funny moments, great characters
and something that only recently has started to re-emerge in Disney’s animated
efforts; that special dose of Disney magic.

Score: 6 of 7 – Put simply, this is a great family film from Disney that shouldn’t be missed.