Monday, October 21, 2013

"Frozen"s 3rd Trailer Is Worth Seeing + A Brief Discussion of Sisters in Fairy Tales (But Especially Tatterhood...)

I know, I know - ANOTHER Frozen post! But when you see the trailer and what I'm commenting on, hopefully you'll see why. (And, if it were me, this is TOTALLY a marketing angle I would take to boast how Disney is creating a new fairy tale... even if it isn't exactly the case.)

First, take a look (source):
See what I mean?

No longer is it (just) a goofy, perhaps amusing, icy adventure film with a bit of fantasy that promises to be fairly forgettable. Now we get to the meat of the film - and a real reason for wanting to watch. While I'm still not convinced of a real fairy tale in the mix, there is an aspect this trailer made me think of that I wanted to raise: sisters in fairy tales.

Art by Brittney Lee

Yeah, yeah, I know they've been blaring a TWO FEMALE LEADS trumpet but the sisterhood bond aspect of the movie has been rather smothered to date. As I've been looking around through fan blogs and those excitedly anticipating Frozen and producing fan art, apart from the "what cool magic stuff could a snow queen do?" aspect, it's the sisterhood angle that's grabbing people: this is what Disney should have been pushing in the marketing all along! Why? Because there really aren't that many sister-LOVES-sister tales out there (lotsa hate, notsomuch love) and that's kind of special.

Did you even see this teeny little poster-thing on "sisters day"? >>>>>>
Me neither.

When it comes to sisters in fairy tales, if you're like me, you immediately think of Snow White and Rose Red, or of jealous sisters (or step sisters), or sisters who spend most of their time breaking curses on their enchanted brothers (Wild Swans, Brother & Sister etc). A sister breaking a curse for another SISTER though (or, in Frozen's case, helping a sister comes to terms with a gift/curse) - and one that she actually loves - is quite unusual.

Admittedly, I do not have good access to an ATU catalog and do not have a black belt (or a belt of any color really) in researching said tale-type systems as Heidi over at SurLaLune does *sensei-bows toward Heidi* (so go check her site and blog and send her your AT-tale type questions because she is the research queen for those) but on looking at types of sister tales I did go down an interesting path of magically assisted and/or cursed births, resulting in siblings that differed from each other.

TATTERHOOD by Victoria Maderna
Usually it's a Royal (and usually a Queen) who is having trouble (or impatience) conceiving and asks for help from a magical creature or fairy or makes some claim of wishing they would happily deal with "fill in some form of weirdness here" as long as they could have a child of their very own. In this case we end up with characters like pint-sized Thumbelina, magically-haired Rapunzel (maybe THAT was the reason for her long hair - although not an assisted conception it was essentially an assisted pregnancy) or one angelically beautiful child and one truly ugly/deformed child.

The one tale this does remind me of is Tatterhood, which is in the closest ATU type (711) I could find to describe this type of tale (essentially, "the beautiful and ugly twins").

I love this tale! Apart from being one of the tales collected by one of my favorite tale collection teams, Asbjørnsen and Moe, this tale is about a very strong girl and quite the feminist tale (which is especially interesting since Frozen is bringing up so many of those very issues). You can read the story HERE.

As usual in these curse/magical interventions where babies are concerned, the situation of ugliness/deformity/stupidity is "cured" and Tatterhood (once she's done with galloping to the rescue of her beheaded sister on a goat with a spoon for a weapon, vanquishes a bunch of trolls and gotten a promise of love from a prince despite her ugliness) is transformed into a princess even more beautiful than her (now restored) and much loved twin (although, really, by that point she was doing just fine in all respects and didn't need transforming... but that's just my little beef with the ending).
Tatterhood cosplay (!) by Tatter-Hood

Although in Frozen neither Anna or Elsa is ugly (wouldn't THAT be a different movie!!), Elsa is older than Anna (how much MORE difficult would animating actual twins be like?) and it would appear that Elsa doesn't lose her freezing abilities so much as learns to control them (or share them), there is that "cursed sister" aspect to the movie in which the love (and stubborn persistence) of a sibling makes all the difference.

It would seem there aren't a whole lot of these type of tales where one sister (in Tatterhood it's the cursed one) rescues the other but these are pretty striking tales when you do read them.

Having that bonded sisterhood aspect in Snow White and Rose Red is, I believe, one of the big reasons that tale (that is, SW & RR) is so popular in the first place. And the same could be said for Frozen if it follows that route (which the latest trailer definitely indicates).

These tales are fairly unique and stand out, not only among the fairy tale canon (at least in the European collections), but in popular tales in general and THAT would be something worth mentioning. (Are you listening Disney?)


  1. THIS is more of the "Frozen" that I would like to see! I've been tracking this film for months and I've been getting more and more disappointed . . . but this is more of what I want! There's actually a story here, not just some fluffy characters running around in the snow. Plus there is some beautiful new images that we haven't seen yet. I'm not 100% impressed with the "For the First Time in Forever" song, but I'm pretty sure there will be others that are good (and that was probably the reprise version, not the full). And I can't forget that Idina Menzel is Elsa, and she has some incredible vocal talent (understatement of the century). Thanks for sharing this here, Gypsy, even though the movie is not really a fairy tale movie as in Disney's past. Your connections with Tatterhood and SW&RR were a great tie-in.

  2. 'Kate Crackernuts' has two step sisters, where one disenchants the other 'though they loved one another like real sisters'

  3. Still not the Snow Queen. But I must admit it looks a lot better than I'd feared.