It took me and my sister three months after it was released to finally get around to seeing Frozen, and that was only because my dentist’s office gave me two free tickets as an apology when my crown hadn’t arrived when it was supposed to. But it was worth the wait (and I did get my crown).
We went late in the evening and were the only ones in the theater, which was fun because we were able to elbow each other and make faces and utter comments in a not very subtle tone of voice.
I had heard from nearly everyone that Frozen was good, but I had never been able to get over my impressions from the trailer that it was a movie for six year olds that seemed to be about a snowman and a reindeer. I had visions of the cartoons Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
It’s very rare, but there’s something special about coming to a movie and you have no idea what to expect and being delightfully surprised. I hadn’t read any reviews or anything, so I totally missed out on the fact that the story was primarily about two sisters.
But those two sisters, princesses, are the heart of the movie. The elder sister, Elsa, was born with the ability to control snow and ice, but after an accident that nearly kills her sister Anna, she hides her ability from Anna to protect her and they become estranged.
Elsa then becomes queen and accidentally loses control and freezes her entire land. Anna, who unwittingly caused Elsa to lose control, goes after Elsa and wants to help restore both the kingdom and their relationship. I thought it was very sweet, with the point being less about heroes fighting villains than two people having normal relationship problems (in admittedly less than normal circumstances).
Perhaps we were just in the mood for this kind of a story. It was great to see a movie that acknowledges that there is a deep and true love that does not have to be erotic or romantic. People can have extremely warm, affectionate, defining relationships with family and friends. In fact, most of life is made up of our daily interactions with these people we love and who love us.
It was also more special because I got to see it with my sister. She and are so close, apparently, that the force of our closeness leads people to ask if we are twins (because we really don’t look or dress like each other). We are two years apart and as the years go by, that gap seems to grow thinner and thinner, so I suppose we are beginning to feel more and more like twins, especially in these last couple of years. We drove to community college together, cooked our meals together, schemed about how to get our hands on old, hard-to-get-a-hold-of movies together, talked for hours about why a movie is not true to the book together. We nearly have identical reactions to movies and books (not music, though) and at this point in my life, I don’t think I know anyone better than I know my sister.
But movies with good sister relationships are not that common (although Jane Austen does have some excellent sister relationships in her books and several movie adaptations capture that, as well).
And although we don’t usually listen to the same kind of music, we both liked the soundtrack for Frozen.
In fact, the music got stuck in my head from the first listen…which is generally a plus for any musical (though there have been exceptions). My sister and I had been bemoaning the end of really good musicals – you know, the kind with supreme dancers and singers who can really sing and music that is memorable and singable. Frozen is not exactly a blast from the past, and it is a cartoon, but it did give me hope that maybe somebody would look at the success of Frozen and maybe consider using Broadway talent for a movie musical.
And there was a lot of Broadway talent in Frozen: Idina Menzel (Elphaba in Wicked) played Elsa, Jonathan Groff (Spring Awakening) was Kristoff, an ice-seller who helps Anna find Elsa, and Josh Gad (The Book of Mormon) was Olaf the singing, sun-loving snowman. Also, the songs were written by Robert Lopez (The Book of Mormon, Avenue Q) and his wife Kristen Anderson-Lopez. And there was no song that felt more Broadway-esque than “Let It Go,” which I actually think kind of blew all the other songs away with its force.
The song won the 2013 Academy Award for Best Original Song and was the 13th award for Disney. It’s been a huge hit all around the world, apparently translated into over 40 languages. It’s not exactly like the 1930s and 40s, when the songs that won Best Original Song were by composers who regularly wrote pop hits that everyone knew and heard on the radio, but it’s the first song in a long time that I’ve heard of – which might not be saying much, since I can be a bit clueless about contemporary music. At the very least, it hearkens back to the days when Disney completely dominated the award in the 1990s, winning six times between 1989 and 1999.
If you are curious about which songs those are, here is a list of the songs that came from Disney films that have won in the past. I knew almost all the songs, but somehow I managed to miss ever hearing of the ones that originated in Disney-Pixar films (I guess the songs must have come from the credits). In an aside on the diminished state of the Academy Award for Best Original Song, the songs that used to win were sung during the movie, then they were just songs from the opening credits, and now the songs that win are usually sung during the end credits.
List of Oscar Winning Songs by Disney
1940 – “When You Wish Upon a Star” from Pinocchio: Music by Leigh Harline, Lyrics by Ned Washington
1947 – “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” from Song of the South: Music by Allie Wrabel, Lyrics by Ray Gilbert
1964 – “Chim Chim Cher-ee” from Mary Poppins: Music and Lyrics by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman
1989 – “Under the Sea” from The Little Mermaid: Music by Alan Menken, Lyrics by Howard Ashman
1991 – “Beauty and the Beast” from Beauty and the Beast: Music by Alan Menken, Lyrics by Howard Ashman
1992 – “A Whole New World” from Aladdin: Music by Alan Menken, Lyrics by Howard Ashman
1994 – “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?” from The Lion King: Music by Elton John, Lyrics by Tim Rice
1995 – “Colors of the Wind” from Pocahontas: Music by Alan Menken, Lyrics by Stephen Schwartz
1999 – “You’ll Be in My Heart” from Tarzan: Music and Lyrics by Phil Collins
2002 – “If I Didn’t Have You” from Monsters, Inc. (with Pixar): Music and Lyrics by Randy Newman
2010 – “We Belong Together” from Toy Story 3 (with Pixar): Music and Lyrics by Randy Newman
2011 – “Man or Muppet” from The Muppets: Music and Lyrics by Bret McKenzie