FROZEN CRITICISMS AHOY!
So, one of the many reasons why a lot of people don’t like Frozen (and no, nobody dislikes it because they’re hipsters, trust me on this) is because it has almost no connection to the original Snow Queen fairy tale by Hans Christian Anderson, beyond the fact that there’s a woman with ice powers who declares herself queen. I have my own problems with the movie (I could literally go on a five hour rant about it), but I can sympathize with that sentiment.
Every now and then, I think of alternative ways Frozen could’ve been written. One of my fave versions is to have made Elsa a literal monster (like the Beast combined with a Frost Giant) and Anna and Kristoff show her true love (both in the familiar and romantic sense, respectively) to help her unfreeze the kingdom and be accepted. But I don’t think Disney is ready to make an ugly/monstrous female protagonist just yet, unfortunately. So I try to think of a version that’s loyal to both the original fairy tale and that’s similar to the movie. And I think I may have found a version that does the trick.
In this version (which I’ll call The Frozen Queen), the Snow Queen is almost the same as she is in the original fairy tale; not the sister of a princess and heir to the human throne (I honestly have no idea why this was a concept in the first place), but a spirit of snow and ice. Maybe she was human long ago. Maybe she wasn’t. But she’s beautiful, graceful, elegant, and VERY powerful (and knows how to use her powers)…but also very lonely. Everybody fears her and won’t accept her.
Then, she notices the prince and princess of the kingdom, Kai and Gerda (yes, I know they were peasants in the original fairy tale, but hey, Disney needed their Princess, so this will have to do). She becomes jealous of how loving they are too each other and how strong their bond is, so she decides that this is the perfect opportunity to select an heir. She curses Kai with ice powers. While his grandmother is accepting, his parents are not. They forbid him to interact with his sister and isolate him, making sure no one ever knows of the secret. Gerda, who KNOWS about Kai’s power, is very sad, and hopes that one day they can be together.
Time passes. Kai is ready to ascend the throne after his parents die, but is so shaken up from years of isolation and abuse that he is unable to reconnect with his sister. This is the perfect opportunity for the Snow Queen to strike. She pierces his eyes and heart, which makes him freak out, think everyone is out to get him, and he freezes the kingdom and runs off.
He is soon on the mountaintop, where the Snow Queen takes him in. They sing a twisted duet of Let It Go together, where Kai expresses his freedom, while the Snow Queen expresses her control over him.
Gerda still believes in her brother. With the kingdom under her grandmother’s supervision, and with an entourage, she goes after her brother, but a storm breaks out. She gets lost from the entourage and collapses into the snow, but is rescued by the Robber Girl (from the original fairy tale). Despite the Robber Girl (who here I’ll call Krystal) being rather abrasive, the two still become friends, and set off to find the Prince with their talking animal friends (they existed in the original fairy tale, and hey, we need more merch).
The two make it to the mountain. Gerda almost manages to get through to her brother (her tears managing to heal his heart), but the Snow Queen, enraged, chases Gerda and Krystal away, freezing Gerda’s heart in the process.
Gerda and Krystal return to the kingdom in an effort to heal her, but nothing works. The kingdom is also freezing quickly. Kai, who knows how much Gerda loves him and realizes that he can be good, goes back to the kingdom to help her, but because his eyes are still unhealed, it’s hard to find her, to see properly, and he makes the situation worse. Gerda finds out that he’s returned and, despite growing weaker by the minute, comes to him. That’s when she sees the enraged Snow Queen ready to strike Kai, and she comes to his aid. She saves him, but freezes over. Kai sobs over his sister, healing his eyes, and then he realizes he must use his powers for good, and unfreezes the kingdom. That’s when she unfreezes. Because their love for one another was so strong, they saved each other.
The Snow Queen, realizing this, has her heart warmed. She apologizes; Kai and Gerda forgive her.
About a year passes. Kai is slowly getting better, with the help of his grandmother, sister, and their new friend, Krystal. Then winter comes and a gentle snowfall is bestowed upon them. Kai and Gerda acknowledge the Snow Queen’s presence, wondering if they’ll ever meet her again, but knowing it will be a much better, more loving encounter (leaving a sequel hook).
See, Elsa was originally going to be the villain, but John Lasseter, the executive producer, was all “hey, what if instead of being evil, she was just misunderstood?”, inspired by his diabetic son (and how awesome “Let It Go” was). I kept the theme here, but wanted to maintain the Snow Queen’s original role, and having her learn and apologize for hurting Kai and Gerda.
This is one (of the many) version(s) this movie could have gone that would’ve been both true to the original and unique for Disney. This is the basic bare bones of the plot, but let’s just say, I would have made major changes to the characterizations as well (mainly, not making Anna/Gerda a typical perky, bubbly princess, and not make Elsa/Kai not constantly go “oh but I can’t control it!” and actually actively do things to try to make the situation better).
I’m not really going to deconstruct why Frozen isn’t a good story about two sisters and how it’s NOT an empowering, feminist movie (that’s for a whole other post), but I will say that stories about female friendships and a brother/sister bond is just as important as a mother/daughter and sister/sister story.
So yeah, that’s my version of Frozen, but at this point Disney isn’t going to do anything like it. I just hope that, if Frozen 2 gets made, it will do justice to the original fairy tale. In the meantime, for people like me who are dissatisfied with the movie, there’s always the world of fandom.