September 2, 2013

Fairy Tale News Reporter Debut, By Nora Stasio

"Hans Christian Andersen’s 'The Snow Queen' Inspires Disney’s Upcoming Film Frozen"
Editor's note: Nora digs up what's new in the world of fairy tales and movies in her first column for EC. We hope you'll take her up on her offer to chat, and she's offered plenty of nifty details.
"Winter," by Margaret Macdonald,
Disney’s newest animated feature, Frozen, will be released on November 27, 2013. Fairytale fans will be excited to learn that this film is, in fact, an adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s classic fairytale, “The Snow Queen."
Frozen will be directed by Chris Buck, who brought us Tarzan in 1999. It features the vocal talents of Wicked’s Idina Menzel, and Veronica Mars star Kristen Bell. In the tradition of classic Disney films, this one is a musical, with songs by Broadway composers Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, of Book of Mormon and Avenue Q fame. 

Frozen is a film with quite an interesting history. Originally titled The Snow Queen, this project has been in various stages of production for over 10 years.
Nora Stasio's  avatar, by Nora

In the early years of the new millennium, The Walt Disney Animation Company was nearing the end of its "Renaissance" period, which had started in 1989 with The Little Mermaid, also an Andersen adaptation. Throughout the 90s, 2D animated films based on fairy tales and classic stories, such as Beauty and the Beast Aladdin, and Tarzan, had brought the studio great box-office success. There were whisperings that an adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson’s classic tale was in the works, but by 2002, the project had been shelved. Some of Disney’s more recent animated films hadn’t been well-received, films like Atlantis: The Lost Empire(2001) and Treasure Planet(2002). The company was interested in pursuing a new direction, moving away from fairy tales and hand-drawn animation.

Everything changed in 2010 when Tangled was released, an adaptation of the classic fairy tale, “Rapunzel”. It was animated using CGI, like all modern films, but Tangled was a musical fairy tale, like a classic Disney film. It achieved huge success, becoming Disney’s second highest grossing film worldwide (The Lion King being the first.)

This is when The Snow Queen came back off of the shelf. It was renamed Frozen and will be animated in CGI. Our main characters are Princess Elsa and Princess Anna.
Disney recently released this synopsis for the film: 

“In 'Frozen,' a prophecy traps a kingdom in eternal winter, so Anna (voice of Bell) must team up with Kristoff, a daring mountain man, on the grandest of journeys to find the Snow Queen (voice of 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."

This plot doesn’t seem to bear much resemble to Andersen’s story, which follows a small girl (Gerda) trying to save a small boy (Kai) from an evil enchantment. The Snow Queen is a powerful spirit, who takes the enchanted Kai to her palace, and Gerda chases after them. She fights to redeem her best friend’s soul and bring him back home.

Perhaps it’s only fitting that the title of the film was changed, since the two stories have turned out to be so different. Would you prefer to see a closer adaptation of Andersen’s “The Snow Queen,” or are you excited for Frozen nonetheless? Will you be seeing it this Thanksgiving? Let us know in the comments!

Bio: Nora writes, "I have been a lover of creative writing and fairytales for basically my entire life! I just graudated Cum Laude from Rutgers where I completed a minor in English, with a focus in Creative Writing and Shakespeare (I majored in Psychology)."


  1. I've seen 2 trailers, one for Europe and one for the U.S. The Europe trailer is great and wonderfully enticing. The one for the United States is dumb. Hope the movie leans more toward the former. At any rate, the movie may lure more eyes to read H. C.'s tales, and that's never a bad thing.

  2. I will see the movie with an open heart wishing for the best because I am a fan of H.C. Love your column!

  3. I struggle to see a resemblance between the stories; at the moment I feel the snow queen idea is more PR than substance to build on the success of 'Tangled'.

    It does beg the question: why do they feel the need to market it as something it clearly isn't? It gives the impression they're lacking faith in their film being good in its own right, which is a little disappointing.

    Still, I'm an optimist. And expecting little in terms of storyline resemblance doesn't mean there won't still be subtle references that us uber fairytale fans will pick up and enjoy. Or maybe they really will just make a good film, regardless...

  4. I never understand why movie-makers feel the need to mess with something good. Obviously sometimes changes need to be made in the interests of time, etc., but completely changing the story seems senseless to me. Kai and Gerda's emotional journey is beautiful, and I'm disappointed that it sounds like they've scrapped it.

    I have seen a very silly preview with a snowman that discourages me from spending my money at the theatre. I wish Disney would ditch the format that requires cute sidekicks and musical numbers for every fairy tale movie. Just because those elements are right for one movie doesn't mean they are right for all. I wish movie-makers would work on telling a story they are passionate about as opposed to worrying about their profit margins.

    Ok, rant over. Thanks for a terrific column, Nora. Looking forward to the next one!

  5. Welcome, Nora! What a fun column to write. Can't wait to see what you find to share with us. Will you also talk about shows like Grimm and Once Upon a Time?

    I think I'm game for Frozen. If they've changed it enough that it's practically a new story (new characters with different names, different plot, etc), then it's okay with me.

    If they named it the same (same characters) but changed the plot and characters in so many ways that it may as well be a different story, then that annoys me (don't get me started on the Percy Jackson movies). :}

  6. I have not personally read the Snow Queen all the way through but I have read bits and pieces and I enjoyed it. But I was really excited for the movie, Frozen. I loved the movie and yes. I am one of the people who went to go see it the very first day and in my opinion it is one of my most favorite Disney films to date and I watch a lot of them. The two are very different for sure but that is how it works when Disney takes a fairy tale and makes it into a movie. They do what they think will make money and if you go off of the original fairy tales, then those will obviously not make any money. They're terrible for kids to watch which is what Disney is geared towards. Either way, from what I have read, I like the Snow Queen fairy tale but I have not read it all the way through yet. For the movie Frozen, in the way Disney is and what they do to fairy tales, I think they did a great job with it. Definitely one of my favorites but after this class it has definitely given me different things to take into consideration when watching them. I am going to read the Snow Queen as soon as I get the chance to see how that fairy tale plays out. T.R.