The Animators Had Some Fun with "Frozen"
Hidden Images in "Frozen"
There are all sorts of hidden treats in "Frozen." Let's take a look, one by one. We'll also try to give a little background.
Mickey MouseThere's an old-time Disney character who makes his way into "Frozen" who doesn't appear in a lot of films these days.
Look closely when Anna (Kristen Bell) ventures into Wandering Oaken's Trading Post and Sauna. If you look very closely, you might spot Mickey Mouse hiding out down there. Hard to see except on a big screen.
|Lisa Keene's copy of "The Swing," before putting in the "Frozen" character (bottom) and after (above).|
One of Anna's big numbers is "For the First Time in Forever." As she sings this, she leaps into a swing in a painting. This isn't just any painting, it is the Rococo-era French painting "The Swing" by Jean-Honoré Fragonard. The painting is depicted/copied in the film by Disney background artist Lisa Keene and is far from an exact duplicate, as you can see below. Clearly, it wasn't intended to be any kind of duplicate, not least because the original has some, er, connotations that don't really fit into a Disney animated feature film. It is what is known as an "homage."
|Keene's concept art for Rapunzel|
As an aside, Lisa Keene won an Annie Award for her work in "Frozen" in the category "Production Design in an Animated Feature Production," an award which she shared with Michael Giaimo and David Womersley. She is an old hand at Disney, having begun in the animation department working on "The Black Cauldron." She was involved in all the major Disney Renaissance films such as "The Lion King," "The Little Mermaid" and "Beauty and the Beast," and has continued on through the Disney Post-Renaissance and the Disney Revival. She is a background artist who also does character design, and she does a lot of other work at Disney as well.
|"And 'Frozen' wins the Academy Award!"|
Anyway, the Fragonard reference is an in-joke. When Disney was making "Tangled," the animators took as their inspiration the Fragonard painting "The Swing" (for some reason, Lisa Keene apparently didn't receive a credit on "Tangled" at all though it appears she did some concept art for it). "The Swing" provided a certain oil-on-canvas look that gave "Tangled" a classic feel. The free-spirited girl in the swing is what Disney has been shooting for recently in its portrayal of female leads, a carefree, joyous spirit. There probably was the added benefit to Keene using it that the animation studio already had dissected the Fragonard painting and had plenty of worked-up, unreleased treatments of it for Keen to work with.
"Tangled" also makes an even more direct appearance in "Frozen" elsewhere, but we'll get to that below.
Thus, there's a huge, hidden connection between "Tangled" and "Frozen," two of Disney's best recent films.
|Fragonard's "The Swing"|
Notice by comparing the animated version to the original painting how, in her version, artist Lisa Keene emphasized the flying shoe (carefree joi de vivre) but dropped the hidden lover (
As background, Jean-Honoré Fragonard was a French painter and printmaker who lived from 1732 to 1806 in Paris. The man worked like a madman, painting some 550 quality paintings during the final years of the French Monarchy. "The Swing" is one of his more interesting paintings, because it shows a man pushing a lady on a swing while another man, hidden from the guy pushing the lady, is watching the lady fly up into the air. It is pretty clear that the hidden fellow is looking up the lady's dress, but she doesn't care, perhaps because they are having an affair and the first fellow - boyfriend/husband/whatever - is clueless. That may explain why she looks so happy. This kind of ribaldry was frowned upon in serious paintings back in the day, but Fragonard earned a good commission for it anyway. I mean, it's a good painting, and I'm not just saying that because it's old and respected. But he was pushing the limits with this during that puritanical age.
Eugene and Rapunzel
|Eugene and Rapunzel?|
According to Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee, that is Eugene and Rapunzel over there on the left, directly in front of Anna. Nothing gets into a Disney animated feature film by accident. Nothing. Becky Breese, the lead animator on Anna, had also worked on "Tangled" and asked the directors for permission to include that homage. The question went up to John Lasseter, and he gave the OK. Good move, John.
Nothing is there by accident.
Below is a reference to another recent Disney classic.
The fairly obvious reference to "Wreck-It Ralph" probably got noticed by a few people, though it wasn't exactly emphasized. People usually don't go into films watching for clues to previous films, but some do because they know there are usually things slipped in by animators on the sly. Some of those easter eggs have been intentional, some have been misinterpreted (clouds forming the word sex?), some have been put in maliciously by disgruntled animators (phallic symbols in ornate castle designs) - but there's usually something. And sometimes Disney just re-uses old material - they were still using work done for "Sleeping Beauty" decades later, and some of the designs for "The Little Mermaid" derived from unused treatments from the 1930s. So, there's usually something there for those with a sharp eye, especially in the "prestige" projects like "Frozen."
Anybody who saw "Wreck-It Ralph" and was looking for insider stuff instantly would have recognized the tasty treats that Anna likes so much.
Below is the introduction of the racers in the "Sugar Rush" game in "Wreck-It Ralph" for comparison.
Donny OsmondNow we come to one of the most subtle references you'll ever find in a Disney movie (and actually find out about). There supposedly is a Donny Osmond reference in "Frozen." For real!
|Donny Osmond in the 1970s, Hans in 'Frozen'|
During the song "Love Is an Open Door," when Prince Hans proposes to Anna, there is a moment where Prince Hans belts out a high note under a waterfall. As he does so, he closes his eyes and raises his arm in an exact copy of a signature move by Donny.
This isn't a very good way to see it, but it is from this scene:
|The "Love is an Open Door" scene|
Now, why would Disney put a reference to Donny Osmond of the famous Osmonds in a film that had absolutely nothing to do with him?
Well, because the animator in charge of that sequence was his nephew.
Hyrum Osmond (now there's a name you don't hear everyday) has been at Disney since 2008's "Bolt." On "Frozen," Hyrum was the supervising animator for Olaf, the lovable snowman. However, he stepped in to animate Prince Hans for that one particular moment.
According to Yahoo Movies, Osmond said, "I requested that shot, just because I knew that that was the perfect moment to kind of pepper in that Donny Osmond feel to it."
|There really isn't much of a resemblance, and nobody would have known if Hyrum didn't spill the beans|
A couple of things are of particular note about that. First, Hyrum didn't just slip the shot in. This cannot be stressed enough - nothing (at least these days) makes it into a Disney film by accident. That is how tightly controlled the process has become. Second, Donny has a sort of reputation (perhaps from Weird Al Yankovich calling him that once) of being the "white-est guy," and "Frozen" is all about the white stuff. So, it's almost an inside joke of an inside joke, or an inside joke squared.
Hyrum's is the son of George Virl Osmond Jr., the eldest of Donny's seven brothers. George isn't very well known because he never sang with the Osmonds due to a hearing impairment. He was always around, though, just as much a part of the family as anyone else.
Further quoting from Yahoo:
"Obviously we were exposed to the 'Donny and Marie' show. We were on set a lot. And me and my brothers and sisters almost playfully mocked our uncles with their signature move, which was basically sort of a tilted head, eyes squinting, with the raising of their arm or arms as they belt out that note. I just thought it was a perfect moment to kind of hit the Donny Osmond pose there."So take that for what it's worth. It hardly seemed worth asking permission to put in, because, well, you can barely see it even after you are told it is there. But, that is Hyrum's nod to uncle Donny. It pays to be nice to your nephews.
Crazy End CreditsNow, there's one more that isn't that well known. It's not, however, an easter egg, but rather a crazy credit. But it's amusing, and nice to see it and be able to tell your friends about it.
This appears at the very end of the credits and makes fun of standard disclaimers. Hey, you don't see that very often!
This one reads:
”The views and opinions expressed by Kristoff in the film that all men eat their own boogers are solely his own and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of The Walt Disney Company or the filmmakers.”So there you go, the animators had their fun, and almost nobody noticed!
You also might be interested in my full review of "Frozen."
You may find the "Let It Go" sequence from "Frozen" here. It includes a wonderful performance by a 9-year-old singing it - the film version is there at the bottom of the page, animation included. There's a fun lip-synch to "Love is an Open Door" here.
I also have collections of still pictures from "Frozen" as a supplement to my review here and here.
Little-Known Facts about Elsa
Princesses Anna and Elsa are the heart of Disney's "Frozen." There's no question that audience members respond to them and have made them into the most popular Disney princesses in years. They meet their subjects daily at Princess Fairytale Hall in New Fantasyland in Walt Disneyworld, Orlando, Florida. They also are scheduled to be formally inducted into the official Walt Disney Princess line-up some time this summer.
|Broadway actress Idina Menzel voices and sings Elsa, including "Let It Go."|
Elsa is the elder siser and has the best songs, such as the famous "Let It Go" which won an Oscar for its songwriters. If there is one thing that audiences take away from "Frozen," it is Elsa singing "Let it Go." Many young girls like to sing "Let It Go" and want to know everything they can about Elsa. She is a very popular greeter at Walt Disney World in Orlando, with waits at the Norway Pavilion to meet her reported to last for hours.
However, even the most ardent fan of "Frozen" may not know all that there is to know about Anna's big sister. Here are nine facts about Elsa and how she relates to the other Disney princesses that you may not know.
1. Her full name is Elsa the Snow Queen of Arendelle. Isn't that a lovely name that is easy to say? Very courtly. Elsa's full name itself is like a song.
2. The character is very loosely based on the titular character in Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale "The Snow Queen." While The Snow Queen was completely evil and the main character of the original tale, that is not the case in "Frozen." Officially, Elsa is not the antagonist but rather what is known as a deuteragonist. That's the second most important character in a story. In "Frozen," Anna gets the most attention and is the protagonist, or central character. While Elsa may be the most exciting character, she is not the one who goes searching for her sister, that is Anna.
|Princess Grace of Monaco|
3. There is a lot of speculation that Elsa was inspired by a real-life princess, Princess Grace Kelly of Monaco. While Princess Grace died in the 1980s, many people remember her elegance and refinement. Princess Grace was an American actress who married into royalty and thereby became a world figure.
4. Elsa's look completely changed during the making of "Frozen." Originally, she was going to have dark hair before becoming The Snow Queen, to give her a punk look. The hair would have been short and with fierce. Ultimately, they decided that was the wrong look for Elsa.
|Elsa and Anna at the Walt Disney World Christmas Parade in 2013|
5. Both Elsa and Anna love chocolate. They share another sisterly trait: they both have freckles, though they are sometimes hard to see.
6. The Technical Directors at Disney had to create entirely new software to accurately show Elsa's famous braid. It's not nearly as simple as they made it look, and since it is her signature hairdo (like Merida's in "Brave"), it had to be just right.
7. Elsa is going to become an official Disney princess, just like "Cinderella" and "Princess Aurora." Elsa will be the 13th official Disney princess, and Anna will be the 14th - or is it the other way around? That's a huge promotion for any Disney character, only the cream of the crop become official Disney Princesses. That means she will get her own doll line and other perks.
8. While it may see as though many Disney Princesses have special powers, that is not the case. In fact, Elsa is only the second Disney princess to have special powers: Rapunzel was the first .
9. Elsa is only the second Princess in the Disney universe to not have any love interest. Even Anna has a love! That may be because Elsa has to lock herself away in her own castle and nobody comes to visit. How sad! In fact, she is only the second princess to not find love, the first being Merida. Maybe she will find someone in the sequel? Here's hoping!