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For other uses, see Frozen (disambiguation).

Frozen is a 2013 American computer-animated musical fantasy film produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios. It is the 53rd animated film in the Disney Animated Canon, and is inspired by the fairy tale The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen. Directed by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee, the film stars the voices of Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Josh Gad, Jonathan Groff and Santino Fontana. The film follows Princess Anna, who teams up with an iceman named Kristoff, his reindeer Sven, and a snowman named Olaf as she sets on a quest to find her older sister Elsa, whose icy powers turned their kingdom in winter, and save the curse.

Frozen premiered at the El Capitan Theatre in Los Angeles on November 19, 2013, and was released in the United States on November 27.

A sequel, Frozen II, was released on November 22, 2019. Two additional sequels are in development.

Plot[]

Princess Elsa of Arendelle possesses magical powers allowing her to control ice and snow, often using them to play with her younger sister Anna in their childhood. After Elsa accidentally injures Anna with her magic, their parents—the King and Queen—take them to a colony of stone trolls led by Pabbie, who heals Anna but erases her memories of Elsa's magic. Pabbie warns Elsa that she must learn to control her powers, and that fear will be her enemy. The sisters are isolated within the castle, the gates of which are now closed off to the public. Out of fear of her increasingly unpredictable powers, Elsa ceases all contact with Anna, causing them to become emotionally distant. When the sisters are teenagers, the King and Queen are lost at sea and presumed dead.

Upon reaching adulthood, Elsa is due to be crowned queen but fears that her subjects will discover her magic and fear her. The castle gates are opened for the first time in years to the public and visiting dignitaries, including the scheming Duke of Weselton and Prince Hans of the Southern Isles. Elsa's coronation proceeds without incident, but she remains distant from Anna, who develops a romantic bond with Hans during the festivities but is opposed by Elsa. Hurt and confused, Anna protests, begging Elsa to explain her fear and isolation. The emotional strain causes Elsa to accidentally unleash her powers before the court. Branded a monster by the Duke, Elsa flees to the North Mountain, where she finally acknowledges her powers, transforming herself and building an ice palace to live a hermit life. Unbeknownst to Elsa, her magic has put Arendelle under an eternal winter.

Anna ventures to find Elsa and end the winter, leaving Hans in command. After getting lost, she meets a mountain man named Kristoff and his reindeer Sven, recruiting them to take her to the mountains. After an attack by wolves damages Kristoff's sleigh, they continue the journey on foot, discovering Olaf, a talking snowman unknowingly created by Elsa who offers to guide them to her. When Anna's horse reports back to Arendelle without her, Hans sets out to find her along with the Duke's minions, whom the Duke secretly orders to kill Elsa.

When Anna reaches the ice palace and reveals to Elsa what has become of Arendelle, a horrified Elsa confesses she does not know how to undo her magic. Her fear causes her powers to manifest themselves once more, and she accidentally freezes Anna's heart, seriously injuring her. In desperation to keep Anna safe, Elsa creates a giant snow monster named Marshmallow, who chases Anna, Kristoff, and Olaf away. Realizing the effects of Elsa's spell on Anna, Kristoff takes her to the trolls, his adoptive family. Pabbie reveals that Anna will freeze solid unless "an act of true love" reverses the damage. Kristoff and Olaf race Anna back home so Hans can kiss her. Hans and his men reach Elsa's palace, defeating Marshmallow, who falls into a chasm, and capturing Elsa.

Anna is delivered to Hans, but rather than kissing her, Hans reveals he was actually planning to seize the throne of Arendelle by eliminating both sisters. Hans locks a heartbroken Anna in a library to die and then manipulates the dignitaries and the Duke into believing that she died due to Elsa's powers. He orders the queen's execution, only to discover she has escaped her cell. Anna is freed by Olaf and they meet Kristoff, whom Olaf revealed is in love with her. Hans confronts Elsa outside, claiming that she killed Anna, causing Elsa to break down and abruptly stop the storm. Moments before Hans can kill Elsa, Anna leaps in the way and freezes solid, stopping Hans. Devastated, Elsa hugs and mourns over her sister, who thaws out, her heroism constituting "an act of true love".

Realizing that love is the key to controlling her magic, Elsa dispels the eternal winter and gives Olaf a flurry small cloud to experience warmth. Hans is arrested and banished from Arendelle for his treason while Elsa cancels the trade agreement with Weselton to get back at the Duke. Anna gives Kristoff a new sleigh and the two kiss. The sisters are reunited, and Elsa promises never to lock the castle gates again.

Cast[]

  • Kristen Bell - Anna
  • Idina Menzel - Elsa
  • Jonathan Groff - Kristoff
  • Josh Gad - Olaf
  • Santino Fontana - Hans
  • Alan Tudyk - Duke
  • Ciarán Hinds - Pabble, Grandpa
  • Chris Williams - Oaken
  • Stephen John Anderson - Kai
  • Maia Wilson - Bulda
  • Edie McClurg - Gerda
  • Robert Pine - Bishop
  • Maurice LaMarche - King
  • Livvy Stubenrauch - Young Anna
  • Eva Bella - Young Elsa
  • Spencer Ganus - Teen Elsa
  • Jesse Corti - Spanish Dignitary
  • Jeffrey Marcus - German Dignitary
  • Tucker Gilmore - Irish Dignitary
  • Paul Briggs - Marshmallow
  • Lewis Cleale - Cliff
  • Terri Douglas - Woman
  • Jennifer Lee - Queen of Arendelle
  • Mona Marshall - Mother with Baby

Additional Voices[]

Ava Acres Stephen Apostolina
Annaleigh Ashford Kirk Baily
Jenica Bergere Dave Boat
Tyree Brown
Woody Buck June Christopher
Wendy Cutler
Eddie Frierson
Jean Gilpin Jackie Gonneau
Nicholas Guest         Bridget Hoffman
Nick Jameson Daniel Kaz
John Lavelle
Pat Lentz Annie Lopez
Kaite Lowers
Dara McGarry Scott Menville
Adam Overtt Paul Pape
Courtenty Peldon Jennifer Perry
Raymond S. Persi Jean-Michael Richaud
Lynwood Robinson Carter Sand
Jadon Sand Kaite Silverman
Pepper Sweeney Fred Tatasciore

Production[]

Background[]

As early as 1937, Walt Disney had envisioned adapting Hans Christian Andersen's story "The Snow Queen" into an animated feature. However, the project did not materialize due to the limited capabilities of his studio at that time. In 1943, he collaborated with film producer Samuel Goldwyn, where Goldwyn's studio would shoot the live-action biopic of Andersen's life and Disney's studio would animate his fairytales. Disney Animation Studio attempted but failed to adapt "The Snow Queen" as they found its story too dark. Goldwyn eventually left the collaboration to produce the 1952 live-action film "Hans Christian Andersen", and Disney Animation shelved the numerous unfinished animated projects including "The Snow Queen".

In the late 1990s, Disney Animation revisited "The Snow Queen" following the success of The Little Mermaid (1989) during the Disney Renaissance era (1989–1999) but failed and re-shelved it. In June 2003, Michael Eisner, chairman and chief executive officer of The Walt Disney Company, expressed skepticism for "The Snow Queen" and sought to transfer its production. He proposed a collaboration with Pixar director John Lasseter who was intrigued by "The Snow Queen" concept art from their Disney's earlier attempts, contingent on the anticipated renewal of Pixar's contract with Disney. Rather than renewing the contract, Disney acquired Pixar in January 2006 and Lasseter was promoted to chief creative officer of both Pixar and Disney Animation.

Development[]

Development began around September 2008 when Lasseter successfully persuaded Chris Buck, who had previously co-directed Disney's 1999 film Tarzan and was working at Sony Pictures Animation (co-directing the 2007 film Surf's Up), to return to Disney. Buck pitched several ideas to Lasseter, including "The Snow Queen". He shared that his original concept for "The Snow Queen" was not based on the Andersen fairy tale, but rather stemmed from his desire to explore a fresh perspective on true love. Buck said that since Disney had already delved into the conventional prince-kissing-the-princess narrative, he wanted to explore a novel approach. The project began under the title Anna and the Snow Queen, and the original plan was to create it using traditional animation.

According to Josh Gad, he became involved with the film during its early stages when the plot closely resembled the original Andersen fairy tale, and Megan Mullally was set to voice Elsa. In early 2010, the project entered a period of development challenges where the studio struggled to make "The Snow Queen" story work.

On December 22, 2011, Disney revealed a new title for the film, Frozen, and set a release date for November 27, 2013. A month later, Disney announced that the film would be computer-animated instead of the initially planned traditional animation. Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez joined the project and started writing songs for Frozen in January 2012. On March 5, 2012, it was announced that Buck would be directing, with Lasseter and Peter Del Vecho producing. Lasseter was later credited as executive producer.

Writing[]

In March 2012, Jennifer Lee, one of the writers of Wreck-It Ralph (2012), was hired to write the screenplay. Before Lee's involvement, the previous screen and songwriters had faced significant challenges. Anderson-Lopez narrated that "the whole script imploded and [she and Robert] got to build it together with Jennifer Lee and Chris buck." The production team essentially had to restart the process and faced a deadline of 17 month, resulting in a tight schedule. During production, Lee was promoted to co-director for her sense of the story structure which Del Vecho said complemented well with Buck's experience.

According to Lee, certain core concepts were already established, such as the film's "frozen heart" hook where an "act of true love will thaw a frozen heart". Lee recalled that Edwin Catmull, president of Disney Animation, emphasized early on the importance of justifying the film's ending. Buck said in the initial plot they wanted to evoke sympathy for Anna by highlighting her frustrations as the spare instead of the heir. In later versions, the focus shifted to musical comedy with reduced emphasis on action and adventure.

The Lopezs' composition of the song "Let It Go" transformed Elsa into a more intricate, vulnerable, and sympathetic character, depicting her grappling to control and accept her gift rather than a villain. Elsa was initially portrayed as inherently evil, kidnapping Anna from her wedding to freeze her heart to prevent her from experiencing love. The songwriters said that they approached his by empathizing with Elsa and exploring her experience of revealing one's true self and enduring freedom in solitude. Lee rewrote the script to align with the change in Elsa's character. Elsa'a initial villain character was driven by her her heartbreak after being jilted at the altar, but the team decided to transform Elsa and Anna to explore the themes of love verus fear. They found that this led to a more relatable and emotional storyline, with Anna's act of saving Elsa thawing her frozen heart.

Another breakthrough came with the introduction of the plot twist involving Hans being revealed as the true villain near the end. The production team wanted to make the audience believe that Hans was the charming prince for Anna, only to subvert their expectations later. Lee portrayed Hans as "sociopathic" and "twisted" while also laying the groundwork for Anna's eventual turn to Kristoff. She wanted to evoke Anna's emotions without fully revealing them, ensuring that the audience felt her inner conflict for both characters. In early versions, Anna openly flirted with Kristoff at their first meeting. This was changed after Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn pointed out the potential confusion and annoyance this would cause, given Anna's prior engagement to Hans.

Lee faced the challenge of defining Anna's personality; some colleagues suggested making Anna more dysfunctional and co-dependent. Lee disagreed, and it took her nearly a year to clearly express Anna. She wanted Anna to have a coming-of-age story where Anna transitioned from a naive perspective on life and love due to her loneliness to a mature understanding of love, culminating in the what Lee believed to be ultimate expression of love: sacrifice. Throughout the process, Lee also discarded many ideas she liked, including a scene depicting Anna and Elsa's relationship as teenagers to maintain the separation between the characters. To help develop the sisters' characters, women from across Disney Animation participated in a Sister Summit event, where they shared personal experiences about their sisterly relationships. Lee also drew inspiration from her own sisterly relationship.

Olaf's character also underwent significant revisions, transforming the snowman from Elsa's main henchmen into a character who is part of Anna and Elsa's early childhood, and fixated on the concept of summer. Lee initially wanted to eliminate Olaf from the story, but a staff animator conceived a three-page script treatment with Gad that convinced her otherwise.

By November 2012, the team believed they had finally mastered story. However, they realized that it still "wasn't working", leading to rewriting from February through June 2013. That June, Disney conducted test screenings of the part-completed film with two audiences (one of families and the other of adults) in Phoenix, Arizona.

Casting[]

Actress Kristen Bell was chosen to voice Anna on March 5, 2012. Bell, who recorded her lines during her pregnancy, had to re-record some lines after giving birth due to the deepening of her voice. She was called in for additional recording sessions approximately 20 times, with the production team claiming that this was partly due to the evolving story elements. Bell found the past Disney female protagonists unattainable with perfect posture and overly eloquent speech, and she wanted to portray Anna as more informal and relatable.

Broadway veteran Idina Menzel was chosen for the role of Elsa. She had previously unsuccessfully auditioned for Tangled (2010). However, one of Tangled's casting director kept a recording of her performance on her device. Based on that recording, she invited Menzel and Bell to audition for Frozen. Before their official casting, Menzel and Bell deeply impressed the production team at an early table read. The team found Menzel and Bell's performance to be in perfect harmony and expertly captured Anna and Elsa's sisterly relationship.

Between December 2012 and June 2013, the casting of additional roles was announced, including Jonathan Groff as Kristoff, Alan Tudyk as the Duke of Weselton, Santino Fontana as Hans, and Gad as Olaf.

Design[]

Designer Jean Gillmore emphasized the need of careful consideration in the film's computer-generated imagery (CGI) costume designs to prevent it from exhibiting an undesired plastic quality. Frozen's CGI clothing aspects include trims and embroideries, various quality fabrics ranging from velvet to suede, and sequined/beaded fabrics. Art director Michael Giaimo wanted a Scandinavian theme with intricate details, prompting a trip to Solvang and Norway to study its garments and trims. The production team aimed to utilize the reference materials creatively rather than literally, aligning with the film's visual theme. Dior fashion's graphic designs helped establish the film's shape language, and the cursive and geometric designs from Norwegian culture inspired its creative direction.

The trip to Norway revealed numerous inspirations; the country's vertical rock formations and Naeroyfjord fjord inspired the setting for Arendelle, while medieval stave churches inspired the castle compound, and its interior drew inspiration from a Oslo castle. Rosemaling folk art, characterized by distinctive paneling and grid patterns, inspired the architecture, decor, and costumes. The film's worldbuilding draw on Noway's long nights and light shows. Lasseter suggested the idea of beginning Elsa's construction of her ice palace with a snowflake to showcase her power. Frozen's portrayal of nature, layered on a predominantly white landscape, was influenced by Norway's diverse natural lighting conditions. Giaimo wanted an elegant jewel-like palette that incorporated both natural light and Elsa's powers.

Anna's design featured a wardrobe adorned with floral patterns and vibrant colors. Her travel outfit, tailored for the northern climate, consisted of heavy wools and velvets. Elsa's original costumes conveyed her attempt to conceal her powers, but as she embraces her identity, her costume transforms to symbolize her freedom. Hans, who was not from Arendelle, was given a rosemaling-based costume with a more graphic design on his jacket. Kristoff, a mountain-dwelling outdoorsman, wore a costume with fur and a red sash inspired by Sami clothing. Sven's inspiration drew from the team's experience of winter weather and landscapes at Roros, a former mining town and UNESCO site in Norway.

Animation[]

Before animation, the production team collaborated with an acting coach to study the characters' personalities, stories, and nuances, and they collaborated with the cast to study the cast's movements, breathing, and facial expressions. They traveled to Norway and Jackson Hole, Wyoming, to study for the film's fjord-based setting and experience snow, respectively. The preproduction phase took over two years, during which the team studied numerous details in preparation for the animation process. Afterward, animation tests were conducted to visualize the main characters' designs and establish a coherent "shape language" for their final CGI models. Artists were assigned specific scenes to act out to grasp their characters' poses, expressions, and timings. Others proceeded to create key poses and assemble them in "blocking passes" to secure approval from the directors before the team could delve into the more intricate aspects of animation. The daily animation process involved conducting simulations and accounting for the correct compositions, timings, and designs. Throughout the process where digital tools were prevalent to simulate elements such as snow effects, the team also integrated traditional draw-over methods for a more art-directed appearance in specific instances. These hand-drawn effects were projected and extruded to add thickness in 3D.

Frozen's rigging process involved taking a digital sculpture, constructing the skeleton and muscles, attaching the skin to the character, and creating a set of animation controls. It used 312 character rigs and 245 cloth rigs, both surpassing those used in contemporary Disney films. The production team faced difficulties in achieving subtle facial animation due to limitations in control mechanisms, as the lack of controls made it difficult to capture the intricacies of such animation. They wanted the characters to exhibit subtle nuances, such as proper brow movements.

The Norwegian-based costumes required technical preparation due to their intricate designs. This was amplified by the increased number of cloth rigs compared to previous Disney CGI films. The costumes used digital pattern-making techniques and real-life fabric properties, ensuring that their on-screen behavior closely resembled that of real life. The production team also found creating the braids and the diverse styles of the characters' Norwegian-based hairstyles very complex. A celebrity hairstylist helped create Elsa's hairstyle, which surpassed the complexity of previous Disney characters at 420,000 strands. "Tonic" was developed to enable artists to more effectively group and style the characters' hair. It also helped create traditional Norwegian styles, including intricate braids, and extended to animals like wolves and horses.

The production team wanted to depict realistic and diverse snow textures, including wet and fluffy ones, and how they interacted with the characters. "Snow Batcher" was developed to create imprints in the snow and the debris created when trudging through them, and specialized shaders were used to apply textures such as frost onto ice. The team collaborated with University of California, Los Angeles mathematicians to develop the material point method-based algorithm "Matterhorn", used to simulate the film's intricate snow behavior, including sintering them into snowballs. It also helped to create the film's various snow effects, from snowfall to the accumulation on landscapes and characters. They consulted with physicist Dr. Kenneth Libbrecht on the formation of snow and ice, as well as the characteristics of snowflakes. Libbrecht explained snowflakes begin as small ice crystals in the atmosphere, undergoing branching and plating due to changes in humidity and temperature. Drawing from this knowledge, they developed a snowflake generator to randomly generate 2,000 unique snowflake shapes.

To create Olaf, the production team developed "Spaces" to disassemble and reassemble him and "Flourish" to more efficiently manipulate the characters' movements. They approached Olaf's physicality by exploring how his stick arms should move, how he scratches his head without elbows, and how his body parts come apart and move. Olaf is composed of three snowballs that can be disassembled and reassembled in various ways. His anatomy was very flexible and allowed the team to explore a wide range of expressions and actions.

To achieve the desired visual impact where Elsa constructs her ice palace, the production team visited an ice hotel in Quebec City to observe how light interacts with snow and ice. 50 effects artists and lighting artists collaborated to create this scene, and the rendering process for each frame took approximately 30 hours with 4,000 computers working simultaneously. This sequence required specialized lighting and choreography. Mohit Kallianpur, the director of cinematography, look, and lighting also emphasized extensive use of ray tracing to capture ice's refractive and light penetration qualities.

Music and sound design[]

The songs for Frozen were composed by the Lopezs, a husband-and-wife team. They were approached for the project by producer Peter Del Vecho, who had worked with them on previous Disney films. Despite being occupied with other projects, including The Book of Mormon, the Lopezs expressed that they were eager to collaborate with Disney on a fairy tale musical, subsequently joining the production team after a personal pitch in New York City.

The Lopezs worked remotely from New York City, engaging in frequent videoconferences with the production team. The songs were recorded as demos in their home studio, then discussed in videoconferences. They wrote 25 songs, and one-thirds of which made it into the final version including a song recorded by Demi Lovato in the end credits.

In addition to songs, the film featured a score by Christophe Beck, who incorporated regional instruments and vocal techniques inspired by Norwegian cultures. The production team wanted the score to resonate emotionally with the film, especially during pivotal moments, such as the complete silence after Anna freezes. Foley work was done to capture snow and ice sounds, and various attempts were made to perfect the sound of Elsa's footsteps in the ice palace.

Localization[]

Frozen was localized into 41 languages through the Disney Character Voices International. Finding sopranos with vocal tones and ranges similar to Idina Menzel's was a challenge in this process. The translation of the film involved a focus on the lyrical intent, rhythm, and lip sync. Disney instructed the songwriters to simplify wordplay and puns to ensure global appeal. Casting for dubbed versions prioritized native speakers, and voices were matched as closely as possible to the original characters. For Elsa alone, about 200 singers auditioned for the 41 language versions. The international cast involved over 900 individuals in approximately 1,300 recording sessions.

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