Recently, I’ve become obsessed with Disney’s new movie “Frozen.” Call it jumping on the bandwagon if you will, but it’s a great movie. Here are some things I thought we can learn from its strengths, and its flaws.
1. The story is based loosely on Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Snow Queen” — I said “based loosely” because while the story takes inspiration from “The Snow Queen,” it also deviates a lot from the original plot. So, if you’re retelling a story, don’t be afraid to change it.
2. Music is a big part of Frozen. While books obviously can’t have music in them, they way they sound in someone’s head can be likened to music. If you’ve ever written poetry before, you know that music takes a lot of techniques from that to make the song sound good. The same thing goes for prose; while prose is a less structured form, it can still use techniques like assonance, rhyme, alliteration, metaphors, etc. to strengthen the writing.
3. Elsa and Anna’s relationship is another important part of the story. Let’s take a look at their character first. Anna is awkward, naïve, but is also positive, brave, and faithful. Elsa is secluded, fearful, most likely depressed, and will do anything to protect her loved ones. As you can see, the characters are different, but both also have their similarities. Both will do anything to help and save the other, though they have different ways of showing it. Relationships between your characters are very important; everyone reacts to each person differently, no one acts the same way around one person as they do the next. For example, Hans mirrors the personalities of those around him: he is different around Anna, Elsa, and the Duke of Weaseltown.
4. Did you notice all the detail the animators put into the setting? While your readers can’t actually see your setting, they can imagine it. You don’t need to push every detail into their head, but leave enough that they can see the beautiful setting you’ve created. Also, setting isn’t only what the place looks like: it also represents cultural, economic, etc.
5. SPOILER ALERT: The twist with Hans is one of the weaker aspects of the movie, I think. It surprised a lot of people because it was just so unprecedented, and there was nearly nothing to point that he would betray Anna. If you have a twist in the story, it does need to surprise readers, but it also needs to have evidence that shows that they would turn. If the twist is randomly thrown in there for shock value, the readers won’t be happy.
6. Frozen is widely known as a cultural phenomenon. While it’s a brilliant movie, I don’t think anyone can say it’s the best-written, best-characterized, best-animated movie ever. Which just goes to show you anything can become popular, it doesn’t matter if they’re good or not (take Twilight as an example). However, good writing, characters, plot, and theme will greatly help your chances of becoming a cultural phenomenon (like Harry Potter).
So there are some of the things I thought of. What do you think? Is there anything you would add?
~ J. Dominique