12 Things You Don’t Know about Disney’s Frozen

Franki Hobson

Lifestyle Writer

20/09/2014

Frozen is much more than an epic tale of adventure, family, courage and love, with the heroine, Anna, on an impossible journey to save her sister, Elsa, and the kingdom of Arendelle from an eternal winter. Read a little bit deeper, and you'll find some rather surprisingly cool facts...

Anna (voiced by Kristen Bell) is the heroine that parents and little girls and boys worldwide have been waiting for. She is fearless (much like the mummies in this world!), fighting off wolves. She is adventurous, setting out on an epic journey to save her sister, Elsa (voiced by Idina Menzel), and all of Arendelle from an eternal winter. She is optimistic and naïve, believing that she can save others, who refuse to be saved. She is a hopeless romantic, longing for ‘the one’. She is unrelenting, determined and compassionate when those around her are not. And, unlike many ‘Princesses’, she is goofy, loveable and graceful, all in one. If you haven’t seen the flick 400 times, or at least once, you are missing out. And if you have? Here’s a few Frozen insider secrets to feed you’re your love of the film and sound totally cool around the kids…

#1 FROZEN WAS INSPIRED BY A HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSON TALE

He may be long passed, but Hans Christian Anderson lives to inspire another tale… “Our film is inspired by Andersen’s classic tale, ‘The Snow Queen,'” says director Chris Buck, “and yet ‘Frozen’ is a story distinctly our own—wonderfully emotional, with plenty of action, adventure, magic and unforgettable characters. Our story started as a very simple idea about the power of family and has grown into something more grand than we could have ever envisioned,” adds director Jennifer Lee, who wrote the screenplay. “It’s about fear versus love, told through a family’s epic journey—their struggle to overcome fear and find the true meaning of love.”

FROZEN Anna

“FROZEN” Anna model sheet. ©2013 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

FROZEN Elsa

“FROZEN” Elsa model sheet. ©2013 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

#2 ANNA JUST WANTS TO CONNECT

Our modern day hero, Anna is the girl that makes goofy look cool, flaws look fun, compassion aspirational, and strength over adversary something little children will actually seek to achieve. Unlike many modern day Princesses, she is more daring than graceful and, at times, acts before she thinks. Woops. A reality for many little ones. But she’s also the most optimistic and caring person you’ll ever meet. She longs to reconnect with her sister, Elsa, as they were close during their childhood, and shows the strength of family bonds, unconditional love and the ability to see through the facade. She may come from a kingdom, but in this adventure, she is armed with only her fearlessness, a never-give-up attitude, determination and her faith in others to save both her kingdom and her family.

FROZEN Things you didnt know

“FROZEN” (Pictured) ANNA. ©2013 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

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“FROZEN” (Pictured) ANNA. ©2013 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

#3 IN EARLY VERSIONS OF THE STORY, ELSA WAS A TRULY VILLAINOUS SNOW QUEEN

“The story of Frozen continually evolved during the production process,” Co-director Jennifer Lee comments. “At one point, Elsa was an evil villain in the story. The Snow Queen was ethereal and she wasn’t very innocent, but she’s a lot more complex now. She makes certain choices out of fear, and they are not the best choices – but she’s not an evil villain in the story. We felt like she had much more to offer than that.” And here’s another evolutionary fact: Elsa originally had spikier hair and there was an evil edge to her look. She had a bluish tint to her skin because she was icier, but transformed into a softer, braided Princess.

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“FROZEN” (Pictured) ELSA. ©2013 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

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“FROZEN” Elsa visual development art. ©2013 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

#4 KRISTOFF IS NO ‘PRINCE ON A WHITE HORSE’

Who needs a Prince to find happiness? This takes A LOT of pressure off little boys, that’s for sure. Instead, Kristoff is rugged, rough around the edges and a true outdoorsman. Not born into wealth, he lives high up in the mountains where he harvests ice and sells it to the kingdom of Arendelle. He is a strong, no-nonsense type, who follows his own set of rules. Charming, but not good with people, and he has zero social graces. He is messy and dirty and unexpected, and has no problem challenging Anna’s point of view. The character of Kristoff was largely influenced by the Sami people, who are indigenous to parts of northern Norway. The Sami are known for herding reindeer, which may explain why Kristoff’s best buddy is a reindeer named Sven.

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“FROZEN” (L-R) KRISTOFF and SVEN. ©2013 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

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“FROZEN” KRISTOFF ©2013 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

#5 THE FILM’S BACKDROP IS BASED ON NORWAY

Set in the fictional kingdom of Arendelle, Frozen features a stunning backdrop that was inspired by Norway’s spectacular landscapes—from its snow-capped mountains to its tranquil fjords. “The environment plays an integral role in our story,” explains director Jennifer Lee, who wrote the screenplay. Art director Mike Giaimo and his team travelled to Norway to soak up the atmosphere, check out the architecture, research the local culture and mythologies, and garner inspiration from the environment for their fictional kingdom of Arendelle. Via cars, trains and boats, they visited fortresses, castles, shops museums, cathedrals, fjords and glaciers.

FROZEN concept art

“FROZEN” concept art. ©2013 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

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“FROZEN” Visual development. ©2013 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

#6 ARENDELLE’S CASTLE IS BASED ON OSLO’S MEDIEVAL AKERSHUS CASTLE

Oslo’s medieval Akershus Castle, and the city of Trondheim’s Stiftsgården Royal Palace, is one of the largest wooden buildings in Scandinavia. It cost almost 9 million pounds to build in 1778. “During our research trip to Norway, we visited [the] beautiful castle in Oslo,” explains Frozen’s art director Mike Giaimo. “The main room inside the castle was awe-inspiring. It had a beautiful hand-painted pattern on all four walls that blew us away. It was a stunning tomato red colour, and it looked amazing. That inspired the walls in our royal castle interior.”

Norwegian history, culture and tradition are featured throughout the film, from Ela’s braids, to Kristoff’s indigenous character. Rosemaling, a style of decorative folk art found throughout Norway’s history, appears on clothing, within the architecture and is even evoked in Elsa’s magic and her icy creations. If you look closely at Elsa’s cape, you’ll see snowflake detailing. The floor of the ice palace Elsa builds is in the shape of a snowflake, too. The columns of her palace – the ones that rise up from the floor – are actually arms of a snowflake. She’s surrounded by snowflakes in her new icy home.

FROZEN Arendelle Castle

“FROZEN” Arendelle Castle. ©2013 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

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“FROZEN” (Pictured) ANNA. ©2013 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

#7 SVEN THE REINDEER HAS THE PERSONALITY OF A DOG

Yep, a reindeer with the heart of a Labrador, Sven is Kristoff’s loyal friend, sleigh-puller and conscience. Filmmakers invited a real-life reindeer into the Walt Disney Animation Studios, observing the animal’s physical makeup and mannerisms. “When we first started to work on Sven, we wanted him to move around in a similar way to a reindeer,” explains Head of animation, Lino DiSalvo. “However, we brought a reindeer into Disney for research and we discovered they don’t do anything; they just stand there! That’s when we thought about approaching Sven as an excited dog. He’s like an inquisitive pooch that sniffs around the place. We spoke to John Lasseter about this and he said, ‘My Labrador, Frankie, is always in your face and licking you. It’s perfect.”

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“FROZEN” SVEN visual development. ©2013 DIsney. All Rights Reserved.

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“FROZEN” (Pictured) SVEN. ©2013 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

#8 OLAF THE SNOWMAN IS PURE (SNOW) & INNOCENCE

Olaf is the snowman Elsa creates comes from memories of the happy times she shared with Anna when they were young. He represents that pure innocence and childhood joy. He’s funny in a way that children are funny. He’s completely unaffected by the world. He’s the one character who isn’t struggling with fear versus love. He is love. He lives to love. And he really cares deeply about these new friends he’s found—Anna, Kristoff and Sven.

FROZEN OLAF

“FROZEN” (Pictured) OLAF. ©2013 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

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“FROZEN” (Pictured) OLAF. ©2013 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

#9 IT’S IMPORTANT TO BE NICE TO YOUR BROTHER’S AND SISTERS!

Remind the children of this the next time you find them arguing over toys… it’s family who will be there through good and bad, so be nice! “The one person Elsa most needs on her side when her secret is finally revealed is her sister,” according to Paul Briggs, head of story. “The strength of the family bond is what makes this story so powerful, because it’s her sibling who’s willing to look beyond her powers and stand between her and the world if that’s what it takes. She just has to find a way to let that happen.”

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“FROZEN” (L-R) THE DUKE OF WESELTON, ANNA and ELSA. ©2013 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

#10 THAT SNOW YOU SEE, IS A WORK OF ART

“Our team really raised the bar when it came to the environment of snow and ice,” explains director Chris Buck. “It’s not easy to make ice look believable in animation. The team did extensive research and created groundbreaking technology to achieve the right look for this world. They were able to put together a really beautiful film that’s unlike anything before it.” Elsa’s Ice Palace is based on the Quebec Ice Hotel, and the team travelled there to get a feel for how light reflects and refracts off snow and ice. In an effort to perfect Elsa’s icy magic, filmmakers called on Dr. Thomas Painter, a scientist from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena known as “Dr. Snow” to learn about snowflakes from a molecular level. The findings?

  • 80 percent of Earth’s fresh water is frozen in the form of ice or snow. Snow is colorless and clear, but light reflected evenly on snowflake crystals gives it its white appearance.
  • Although the eternal winter which suddenly fell on Arendelle in Frozen probably rivals any snow record, the greatest single-day snowfall recorded was 6.3 feet in Silver Lake, Colo., in 1921. Higher numbers are assumed in areas more remote, but nobody has been around to record them.

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“FROZEN” Visual development. ©2013 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

FROZEN Elsa ice palace

“FROZEN” Elsa’s ice palace. ©2013 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

#11 FROZEN’S SPECIAL EFFECTS ARE UBER SPECIAL

Remember the scene in which Elsa walks out onto the balcony of her newly constructed ice palace? Well, don’t blink, because it was 218 frames long, and includes the film’s longest frame to render. The single frame took more than 132 hours to render (that’s more than five days). The average animated film features special effects in about 45 percent of its shots. However, since most of Frozen takes place in the midst of a winter storm—and snow and ice are considered special effects — Frozen can be considered extra—almost entirely—special.

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“FROZEN” (Pictured) ELSA. ©2013 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

FROZEN Things you didnt know Elsa Anna

“FROZEN” (Top to Bottom) ELSA and ANNA. ©2013 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

#12 ‘LET IT GO’ IS ELSA’S SELF-DEFINING ANTHEM

Look out Katy Perry, you may have some fierce competition, since the Frozen soundtrack has gone made #1 on the ARIA charts! Frozen features eight original songs from Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, including the gripping Let It Go, Elsa’s self-defining anthem. It’s here, that Elsa’s character undergoes a profound transformation – inside and out. “Before ‘Let It Go,'” says character design supervisor Bill Schwab, “Elsa is really buttoned up, her hair is up—everything is perfect. During the song, she gives herself permission to be who she is and everything changes—her hair is more wild, her gown is magical. She’s finally free—even if she is all alone.”

According to  Anderson-Lopez, ‘Let It Go’ makes such an intense commitment to the emotional journey of the character. “We asked ourselves what it must be like for Elsa to have to completely let everything in her past go in order to be herself and let her power soar,” she explains. Demi Lovato recorded a version of the song for end credits, which is available on iTunes. “It’s so relatable,” said Lovato of the song. “Elsa is finding her identity; she’s growing into who she is and she’s finally accepting her own strength and magical powers. Instead of hiding it, like she’s done all her life, she’s letting it go and embracing it.”

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“FROZEN” (Pictured) ELSA. ©2013 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

FROZEN Things you didnt know Singalong

“FROZEN” ©2013 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

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