Ah, Frozen. Like it or not, there’s no escaping the fact that it’s awesome. Jen and I saw it in theaters and it blew our minds, like everybody else, as it became the highest grossing animated film of all-time. It has everything you might expect: Princess, villain, talking snowman, magic. But it’s told in a very unconventional way. Even the release of the movie itself was unconventional. They released a 2-D version, a few weeks later (after everybody was talking about it) the 3-D version was released. Then, shortly after every parent had decided to hide the Frozen soundtrack from their kids, they released a sing-a-long version in theaters. As if all that money wasn’t enough, Disney then released the digital version almost a full month before the blu-ray/dvd for the low, low price of $19.99. You know why? Because they can. And because they knew people would buy it, because it was that awesome. And they were right. Disney was very calculated with this, but it could have not worked. It could have been a huge flop. But it wasn’t.
It’s not what you expect.
The villain is not who you expect, The hero is not who you expect The princesses aren’t what you expect, the resolution is not what you expect. These little differences, the draws away from the conventional storyline, are what blow our minds.
I think it’s why the kids are drawn to it as well. We may think it’s the clever animated snowman, or perfectly crafted songs. That’s definitely part of it! But kids can understand story just like we can. It may be a different understanding, but just like us, their ears perk up when a story is being told. There was just enough rule breaking to make people of all ages see that it was something special.
As we watched the deleted scenes last night on our copy of Frozen (yes, they got us) three things caught my attention:
1. Elsa was originally supposed to be a villain.
They cut out a scene of her capturing two members of a search party, questioning them, and feeding them to her snow army. Yeah, that was supposed to happen. They took it out because her character was “more interesting” as a protagonist and that story was way more valuable. But she would have been an obvious choice for the villain in the typical storyline.
One rule broken.
2. Anna and Elsa were supposed to be closer.
In a deleted scene, we see them getting ready for the coronation together, Anna joking around and Elsa talking with her as if this happened often. This leads me to believe that they cut it out, again, to make Elsa’s character more interesting and mysterious, and both characters stronger by having them separate for most of their life. It made them both individually strong and independent. It’s not until the end that they can really have a relationship. Two strong and interesting female storylines with no prince to save them.
Two rules broken.
3. Kristoff was supposed to be way more brawny.
A scene that was cut shows Kristoff climbing a mountain with a pick while he holds on to his pet reindeer with a rope. Hardcore and awesome. This was supposed to be our introduction to Kristoff. But instead, we are introduced to him as he comes out of a crazy snow storm all bad-ass and frozen, then he plays a ukulele and sings a duet with his reindeer. Still brawny, but the ukulele trims down his macho-ness a bit. What’s more interesting is the way he’s shown leading alongside Anna, who is independent and strong-willed. A strong male character shown leading next to a strong female.
Three rules broken.
Why is it so awesome?
This broken, unconventional story stole the hearts of millions of people because we are drawn to the unconventional. Our brains aren’t made for comfort, they’re made for thinking up things that don’t exist and making them happen.We are made for change not consistency. We can find solace in comfort but we can also find chains. Breaking rules is never comfortable and it doesn’t always work. But locking yourself inside the confines of what someone has said is the “right way” or “this is what you’re supposed to do” is a great way to make something unremarkable. To make something awesome sometimes you have to not only break the rules but make your own.
There are so many more ways that Disney was able to tell this story in an unconventional way. To break away from what we expect from a Disney princess story. They broke rules, they took risks and like it or not, they made something awesome that blew people’s minds.
It could have not worked. But it did.
What if we broke more rules?
Is there something you’ve been doing because “that’s what you’re supposed to do?”