Monday, June 11, 2012

From Wicked Witch to Snow Queen + Disney's First Official "Frozen" Blurb

Disney have just (re)announced that their doing their take (the quote is "loosely based") on Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen, to be titled Frozen.

We already knew Kristen Bell was to be the Gerda equivalent (now revealed as "Anna") and now it's just been announced that the Tony Award Winning Actress Idina Menzel, who first played Elphaba in the Broadway musical Wicked, will step into the shoes of the Snow Queen herself.

How will it play out? Disney have also just released their first official blurb for the film to give us some insight:
In Frozen, a prophecy traps a kingdom in eternal winter, so Anna (voice of Kristen Bell) must team up with Kristoff, a daring mountain man, on the grandest of journeys to find the Snow Queen (voice of Idina Menzel) and put an end to the icy spell. Encountering Everest-like extremes, mystical creatures and magic at every turn, Anna and Kristoff battle the elements in a race to save the kingdom from destruction.

I don't know about you, but to me it seems that this premise is so "loose" in comparison to the classic (and dearly loved across the globe) fairy tale that it's just about lost. I have no problem with Disney making an fantasy animated feature film with lots of snow and an icy queen  - they should. It'd be beautiful and they certainly have both the artistry and the tech to support a big vision BUT to say it's based on a fairy tale and essentially claim this is the new Snow Queen when it has almost nothing in common with the original (based on the official tidbits released this year)? That seems wrong. It's one of those few times I wish there were some form of copyright on the literary tales that say "you cannot liken your work to the original without using x% of the plot, characters and acknowledging the source material in the opening credits..." But then, that's part of why Disney use fairy tales in the first place, isn't it? They can do whatever they like.

From Entertainment Weekly:

The movie, of course, will have a musical element, with original songs by Broadway’s Robert Lopez (a two-time Tony winner for Avenue Q and The Book of Mormon) and wife Kristen Anderson-Lopez (who worked with him on Disney’s 2011 Winnie the Pooh.) 
The digitally animated feature will open in November 2013 and is being directed by Chris Buck (TarzanSurf’s Up) and produced by Peter Del Vecho (Winnie the PoohThe Princess and the Frog).

So there you have it. A CG musical using the very marketable phrase (as far as Disney goes)"fairy tale". We know Disney's been having a huge internal reshuffle with one of their most loved and recognizable (read "bankable") veteran animators, Glen Keane, departing in March this year but it seems as if they've been hard at work in an effort to show they remain undaunted and are barreling along into production on (another) new version of this old project. Considering they still attract much of the world's best in all the various talents I have no doubt it will be a beautiful, magical and wonderful film. But will it feel like The Snow Queen we know and love?

Although fairy tales can have their elements and plot points changed more than you'd think and still remain "recognizable" it requires more than just having a character with one key characteristic for that recognition to happen. (Eg. just because a girl in a film puts on a red hat, or even a red cape and hood, does not automatically make it a Little Red Cap tale.)

I will be watching to see what, if any, fairy tale elements are in the film at all, as well as what it will do to the public perception of HCA's Snow Queen.*

I couldn't help but stifle a snigger, though, when I read the summary of the announcement by Bleeding Coolsince it's what everyone's been thinking but I hadn't seen put so boldly in print until now:
So, Disney are going from Tangled to Frozen. Surely there needs to be a third in this series. I suggest Bloated, maybe. Or how about PuncturedMutedSoddenBurnt?

Frozen is currently set for a Winter holiday release in the US during November 2013.

Note: All images shown are concept art by Paul Felix for an earlier version of Frozen (still then called The Snow Queen). One of these are from current development art.

*Interestingly, I've noticed the fairy tale of Rapunzel, as published by the Grimm's in Household Tales 200 years ago this year, is remaining largely intact in the public minds. Tangled, and all it's various marketing, didn't have the usual effect of very near eclipsing the classic tale in the public mind at all. It would seem that Disney's title change, in addition to other things, did indeed distance it more than intended from the classics tie-in they were hoping for.

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