Blogger Elisabeth Gattullo Marrocolla

The Snow Queen, Frozen, and Feminist Critique

frozen1In March, I blogged about the upcoming adaptation of The Snow Queen, Disney’s Frozen. At the time, no trailer had been released. In that blog post, I voiced a concern about the title change and placement of female characters in the marketing campaign.“Like Tangled and last year’s Brave, Frozen follows a recent tradition of taking any references to female main characters out of the title of new films” but added, “…regardless of how they obfuscate the main character’s gender, Frozen looks to be a fun family film that gives this generation a new Disney Princess to relate to.” I was extremely excited about the talented vocal cast, including Kristen Bell, Indina Menzel, and Jonathan Groff.

Since then, the controversy over this adaptation and the use of the female main characters has ratcheted up, especially when the head cartoonist for the movie, Lino DiSalvo, gave an interview and said, “Historically speaking, animating female characters are really, really difficult, because they have to go through these range of emotions, but you have to keep them pretty and they’re very sensitive to – you can get them off a model very quickly. So, having a film with two hero female characters was really tough, and having them both in the scene and look very different if they’re echoing the same expression; that Elsa looking angry looks different from Anna being angry.”

frozen2The internet exploded (all angry women look the same but angry men look different?) and things got messier as this quote came to light at the same time as the trailer debuted. The trailer heavily featured the male characters (all whom were created for the movie) and revealed that all of the side-kick characters in the film are also male. Bloggers were on the warpath; there were articles detailing the controversy in Time, The Wrap, The Mary Sue, Jezebel – even Buzzfeed got in on the action. In addition to the uproar over the animator’s comments, there was a dual outcry over the way the female characters in this female-heavy story were adapted to the screen. Articles like How to Diminish a Heroine in 4 Easy Steps brought up a whole host of issues with Frozen and Disney in general.

You can watch the trailer here. What do you think? Is the controversy over this adaptation warranted or overblown?

6 comments

  1. Kelly Doolittle

    Gee, I don’t usually go for anything Disney, but the trailer for this one got me laughing. It seems to me the cartoonist’s most damning comments were based on the fact that these women were sisters – characters who already looked alike – and the challenge was to make their characters obviously different. Hmmm, maybe not so sinister after all….I also notice that with, Disney, most the male characters are dreadfully handsome and generally stereotyped as well, (in their weird, cartoony way,) just like the female characters. Not sure what all the ruckus is about. It’s Disney, it was ever thus…

  2. jng2058

    You should really try watching the movie, then come back and tell us what you think now.

    1. Elisabeth Gattullo Marrocolla

      I do plan on seeing the movie – I always have. I grew up on the Disney movies of the late 80’s/early 90’s and am a big fan. I wrote these articles as a way to share a range of reactions that I had never seen before to an audience that I thought might be interested in them.

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  4. McKenzie

    I love the movie FROZEN. It’s an awesome movie.

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