FROZEN: Voiced by Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, and Josh Gad. Directed by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee. Rated PG (Some scenes may scare very young children). 108 min.
This is an American, computer-generated animated film which is an adventure drama directed as a musical fantasy comedy. It is based loosely on the fairy-tale story, "The Snow Queen" by Hans Christian Andersen.
The film tells the story of a brave and feisty Princess Anna (voiced by Kristen Bell), who journeys to find her estranged sister, Elsa (voiced by Idina Menzel) who lives in an ice castle to protect herself against harming others. Elsa and Anna are heirs to the kingdom of Arendelle. Elsa (Andersen's Snow Queen) has the power to turn people to ice. Having the power to create ice and snow is a wondrous ability, but not having control of it is dangerous, and Elsa's powers are slowly increasing. Elsa is not an evil person. She just can't stop what she knows she does.
As a small child, Elsa accidentally strikes her younger sister, but Elsa knows that, if she had struck Anna's heart, her sister would have died. The sisters' parents lock Elsa away to protect Anna, but the parents die when their ship sinks in a fierce storm, and Elsa becomes the new Queen. Angered at her coronation by the impetuous behaviour of her younger sister, Elsa unleashes her powers, and condemns the Kingdom of Arendelle unwittingly to perpetual winter. Called an evil monster, and in fear, she flees to the ice palace she has created, but Anna journeys to find her to restore their relationship. On the way, a handsome ice-seller, Kristoff (voiced by Jonathan Groff) and his trusty reindeer, Sven, join her, and they meet an singing snowman, called Olaf (voiced by Josh Gad), who leads them to the Snow Queen's palace.
Anna and Elsa re-unite, but in an argument Elsa accidentally strikes Anna's heart and she begins to turn to ice. Only "an act of true love" can reverse the process, and Anna demonstrates it by risking her life for Elsa when people try to kill her. Elsa sees suddenly that love is the way to control her abilities, and she thaws Arendelle. Elsa and Anna reconcile, and Anna and Kristoff declare their love. No longer seen as a monster, and reconciled at long last with her beloved sister, Elsa now rules her kingdom in harmony.
The film has a great musical score, and tells a story with compelling moral messages. The movie is not intended to be the stuff of romantic dreams at all. The story centres on the relationship between two sisters and communicates the message that genuine love is not letting people run away from it and requires generosity and selflessness, even among sisters. Anna and Elsa are two heroines who discover the strengths that lie within themselves, and theirs is a relationship of unconditional love. It is a little disappointing, that in a female dominated movie such as this one that Disney sees it as necessary to include male romantic love to distract you in popular fashion from its main themes.
This is a slightly formulaic movie, but it is wonderfully accomplished. The first half of the film is full of emotion that is expressed largely through music. The second half of the film focuses much more on action. The tunes are very catchy, the film's visuals are stunning, and the quality of animation is outstanding.
This is a great film for family Christmas viewing. It is a movie that is made for children, and it has strong moral messages that every child should hear: "Fear will be your enemy", "only an act of love can thaw a frozen heart", and love always means putting others' needs before your own.
There are some scary scenes, but with a parent nearby the experience of this movie is bound to be a highly enjoyable one for children, and one that is well worth talking about after the movie has concluded.
Peter W. Sheehan is associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting.
Walt Disney Studios
Out December 26th., 2013