Walking in a winter wonderland

Aubrey Malone warms to an icy adventure

 Frozen (Gen)
"I never knew winter could be so beautiful.” So says Princess Anna in the middle of this animated fantasy from Disney Studios. Her comment is apt; neither did I. The film is like so much angel dust – or snowdust – scattered over a barren landscape.

An adaptation of the Hans Christian Anderson fairytale The Ice Queen, it tells the story of how the fabled kingdom of Arendelle becomes encased in a permanent winter because of a curse (reluctantly) applied by Anna’s sister Elsa.   

Climate change

Elsa flees Arendelle and Anna goes in pursuit of her to set the climate change to rights. In her quest she’s joined by the jovial mountaineer Kristoff, his reindeer Sven and a lovable little snowman called Olaf who retains his good cheer no matter how many times he falls apart. Or starts to melt.

There are various pitfalls to be encountered: vicious wolves, dangerous peaks and valleys and even an ‘abominable’ snowman who makes Olaf look even tinier than he is. But the cast still find time to regale us with a banquet of songs. In fact music is the film’s strongest quality.

As a child I used to hate films where people started speaking and then the dialogue suddenly turned into a song. Here, though, it works marvellously. Many of the songs evince an ‘I Will Succeed’ credo that’s reminiscent of the kind of thing that used to be belted out by the likes of Judy Garland in the Forties and Fifties (and Barbra Streisand a decade later).


The main ‘message’ of the film is that only love can melt a ‘frozen’ heart. Thankfully, it isn’t delivered in a schmaltzy manner. Indeed, the familiar prince/princess kiss that usually takes precedence in such films is here replaced by the Alienated Sisters theme. This denies it centre stage in the film’s climactic moments.  

Voicing Princess Anna is Kristen Bell. She captures her ditsy personality with her voice just as much as the visuals do. It’s a ‘modern’ personality which could pose problems for such an ostensibly ‘traditional’ fairytale as this…but then most animated films evince such a dichotomy these days, targeted as they are to a generation that grew up on Friends and Lady Gaga videos.

As against this we have an epic backdrop and some sweeping camerawork driving it with its exciting panning shots. (Don’t forget to put on your 3D glasses to experience the full power of these).

The poet Philip Larkin liked to talk about the “myth kitty” of English literature. This is something I’ve noticed becoming highlighted more and more in recent cartoons (as we used to call them), or even general children’s fare like the Harry Potter films or the Tolkien adaptations.

Such a backdrop catapults Frozen on its way. Later on it becomes more jocose as we experience the expected repartee and the high jinks. But as I say, the songs were what won me over most of all.

I dare you not to leave the cinema humming For the First Time in Forever.

Excellent ****