“Frozen” and the Limits of Narrative

If you’ve spent much time around me the last few months, you’ll know that I’m a bit obsessed with Disney’s Frozen.  I am something of a self-anointed apostle of the film, telling anyone who’ll listen that if they haven’t seen it before, they need to betake themselves to the cinema or the video store forthwith.  I usually get a few raised eyebrows.  Sure, Pixar may have removed the stigma of “kids’ movies” and made it OK for adults to get excited about them too, but Disney?  C’mon.  Well, with 2009’s Tangled, Disney substantially closed the quality gap between their own animated fare and that of their recent acquisition Pixar.  With Pixar having clearly lost their way in recent years with universally-maligned Cars 2 and mediocre Brave and Monsters University, those of us who had enthusiastically embraced the idea that “kids’ movies” could be a medium of thoughtful and beautiful film were left casting about for a successor.  With Frozen, Disney Animation rose to the occasion, producing what is surely its finest film since 1991’s Beauty and the Beast, and one which easily could hold its own against the creations of Pixar’s golden age (2001-2010)—indeed, in terms of sheer visual beauty, it far surpasses them.  Perhaps most remarkably, Disney succeeded in re-invigorating the form of the children’s animated musical, a form that had long since been left for dead in the brave new world of computer animation, producing a mixture of fun comic relief songs, heartfelt arias, and impressively-crafted duets, which, far from marking mere musical interludes within a film that didn’t really need them, played crucial roles in moving the plot forward. Read More