Going Deeper into Frozen with Buck and Lee

Frozen provides further proof that we’re experiencing a new Disney renaissance under John Lasseter: it’s the Oscar frontrunner and the studio’s best since Beauty and the Beast. If Wreck-It Ralph seemed thematically subversive while still leveraging the hand-drawn legacy to guide the CG, then Frozen takes it even further. It’s the most feminist take yet on the musical princess fairy tale.

This is not about romantic love: it’s about the bond between two sisters based on love vs. fear, and the innovative snowy weather system is a secondary character along with the glorious songs by the husband and wife team of Robert Lopez & Kristen Anderson-Lopez. Somewhere Howard Ashman must be smiling.

“I remember giving [art director] Mike Giaimo an early treatment when I asked him to come on to the movie and he responded that it was a big movie,” recalls director Chris Buck. “I said, yes, there’s a lot of snow. And he said, ‘ No, this is a big movie!’ But it still didn’t dawn on me until a year ago. Not just the look but the themes and the story.”

It was hard enough adapting Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen (which even eluded Walt Disney), let alone dealing with such an overwhelming villain. Indeed, the story wasn’t working until Buck and screenwriter Jennifer Lee turned Anna (Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel) into sisters, one funny and fearless, the other cold and distant. And when the production moved up a year, it made sense to elevate Lee to director, which further enhanced the feminine point of view in exploring and repairing the sibling rift.

Even so, it didn’t all come together until they had “Let It Go,” Elsa’s triumphant coming out in which she finally embraces her hidden talent in a flurry of artistic reverie. The bravura sequence also captures the joyful spirit of Andersen’s ode to imagination and the importance of remaining children at heart.

Read the rest at Animation Scoop/Indiewire.

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in 3-D, Animation, Below the Line, Books, Clips, Movies, Music, Oscar, previs, Production Design, Tech, VFX, Virtual Production

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