Frozen*but sisterly love will thaw the chill

How refreshing!  An animated film where the goal of the female protagonist isn’t only to find her prince!

Frozen  is a lovely animated musical with a few typical elements: the funny sidekick, a horse with attitude, ridiculously slender princesses with very large eyes and a story of kingdom in need of a hero.  What makes this film so wonderful is that the hero is the young woman (like in Mulan but w/o the disguise as a man) and the true love that saves the day isn’t the kiss of a man!  The songs are catchy and actually move the story along.  There could have been a little more character development as the young girls grow-up into young women with very little interaction.  They’re undying love for each other stretches credibility a little but at least they do not rely on men as their definition of themselves.  Elsa is a princess who tries to control her powers by hiding away, and then a queen, but without a prince or man to tell her how to rule the kingdom.   Anna may rely on a man to help her search and rescue her sister but she’s portrayed as the driving force in the story and makes her own decisions.  She may be blinded by romance but her naivety can be attributed to her young age and lack of experience of the world.

One of the first animated films directed by a woman based on her own screenplay, Jennifer Lee was given a full director’s credit after working closely with Chris Buck as co-director.  She joins the ranks of Brenda Chapman at Pixar (who was replaced as sole director of the film, Brave but still retains story credit).

Having read the Hans Christian Anderson fairly tale, Snow Queen (Snedronningen, 1845), that the story is “inspired by”, I would give Jennifer Lee even more credit…there is little in the original Danish tale that is retained in Frozen save the setting!  But the back story of the strange fairy tale detailing the cursed mirror that “shrinks everything that was good and beautiful to almost nothing, and it would magnify whatever was worthless and ugly and make it seem even worse” (The Stories of Hans Christian Andersen, Diana Crone Frank & Jeffrey Frank, 2003) does help readers familiar with the fairy tale understand Elsa’s frozen heart.  In the original fairy tale, a sliver of the mirror has lodged in the young boy’s eye and another in his heart and this is what makes him fall in love with the Snow Queen who lives in her frozen palace.  Only the true love of his childhood friend, Gerda saves him.  Her tears thaw his heart!

Rating: 3 cups of hot cocoa

Bechedel rating: A+

Directors: Chris BuckJennifer Lee

Writers:Jennifer Lee (screenplay), Chris Buck (story), 3 more credits »

“Le Tableau” — It’s not paint by numbers

Animation, Jean-Francois Laguionie, France/Japan, 2012, 78 minutes
In English or in French with English subtitles

The award-winning animated film, “Le Tableau”, is a lovely creation with a bland story the belies the colorful setting — the world inside a painting!  Even at 78 minutes, the story seems drawn-out and the transition from hand-drawn to computer animation, to the final scene;  a mix of live-action plus animation, is inventive but tiresome.

There’s a great message hidden among the sketches: the importance of self- acceptance, the corruption of power, and the evils of discrimination.  Claire, the young girl, an almost-completed painting called a Halfsie, can be considered the one empowered character.  She leads the others in the path of discovery.  The focus shifts from the character’s journey of self-discovery to focus on the actual journey: that of painted characters traveling from painting to painting.  So, like the Sketchies, Claire’s story is blurred and loses it’s prominence in the shifting story lines.

If you’re going to see a charming French animated film, consider saving your money for the superior “Ernest and Celestine”.

Rating: 1 wee dram of French liquer