Saturday, 21 December 2013


 Frosty Thrills

While Pixar complacently obsess over emotionless cars and airplanes their parent company have quietly rediscovered the magic of sweet morality plays. Disney can be blamed for any number of unedifying subplots over the course of its long history (sexism, elitism, even racism) but the likes of Tangled, Wreck it Ralph and now Frozen remind us of the heart warming sentiments behind its best productions. Yes, the home of Mickey is healthier than it’s been since Julie Andrews ascended through the wind on her brolly.
The camera pans across a great ice lake. Burly bearded blokes saw and chop their way through the freeze, singing a hearty shanty as they go. Could this be the beginning of the socialist epic I’ve always dreamed about, where Disney discards its fascination with royalty and shows a romantic tale of real working people? Alas, such cinematic poetry remains within the confines of my imagination. By the next scene the focus is well and truly redirected to the usual drama of privileged princesses. Nevertheless, for once this story of aristocratic affairs provides sufficient sincerity and a formidable human sensitivity.
When Princess Elsa’s magical powers endanger her doting little sister, the royal heir is enclosed from the world in the royal palace. As the years pass, the siblings grow further apart. Even after the death of their parents the protective barrier is maintained. Elsa gradually learns to control her wintery curse until a momentary lapse causes havoc on the day of her coronation. Can the emotionally estranged princesses settle their differences before the kingdom is left to ruin?
Written full of humour and surprisingly humble charm, Elsa and Anna are worthy heroines of this fun adventure. Pixar take note: this is what your protagonists used to be like. These characters aren’t cardboard cut-outs; they have petty flaws and make stupid decisions. In fact, (whisper it) they are actually believable.
As in Tangled, the best comic relief is provided by a mute animal. Pascal the chameleon becomes Sven the reindeer, once again proving that dialogue is an overrated commodity.
Where Frozen differs from its Rapunzel-inspired predecessor is with its genuinely toe-tapping tunes. ‘Let it Go’ is sure to make an appearance on the Christmas charts and ‘Love is an Open Door’ is a hilarious take on the folly of teenage crushes. Rest assured these catchy melodies will be on the lips of many young fans for the foreseeable future.
Moreover, Lapland may well be getting a few more visitors next year. The seasonal aesthetic is a pleasing feature of the animation which shamelessly exploits the current vogue for Scandinavia, but to good effect.
Frozen is the best Disney production I have seen in a long time. If it wasn't for such stiff recent competition more plaudits may have fallen its way. However, unless you filter its young target audience into your expectations this snow-kissed picture may leave you cold.

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