Who played Anna and Elsa in Frozen
"The snow is shining white on the mountains tonight". With this line begins the German version of "Let It Go", the most popular song from the movie "The Ice Queen - Totally Unabashed". With this line, the day often begins for us too. Helene Fischer sings it. Of all things.
Fortunately, we hear "Let go now" even more often in the interpretation of our five-year-old daughter. In the morning in the bathroom, for example, after brushing your teeth; Aronal and Elmex are on our parents' tubes, Anna and Elsa are on theirs. Or during the day when she dances around in pantyhose on which the two heroines of the film each adorn a leg. Or in the evening before she falls asleep with them, because the sisters are also depicted on the bed linen in the nursery. Anna and Elsa belong to us. Or, for those who prefer to be culturally critical: We belong to them.
Anyone who has never heard of "shiny white snow in the mountains tonight" should know: "Frozen", as the original title is, is an animated film from 2013, the plot of which is roughly based on the fairy tale "The Snow Queen" based by Hans Christian Andersen. At some point the film landed in our living room and our daughter was blown away. It is in many films, often just because they are films. The enthusiasm for one is replaced by that for the next. But it is different with Anna and Elsa. "The Ice Queen" is not only with her, but also with many of her friends and, if you look around on trips and on the Internet, actually all over the world.
How can it be that a film has so much stronger and more lasting effect on children than any other? What does "Frozen" have that others don't? The daughter replies: Stupid question, dad, for real now. The Disney people in the US answer: Good question, but unfortunately everyone involved is busy with the production of the second part, which will hit theaters in 2019. You have to look elsewhere for the Anna and Elsa formula.
"Frozen" is an exception even for Disney
Maybe it's best to start with someone who knows how to get to the heart of the matter. Max Ackermann teaches verbal communication. At the TH Nürnberg he also researches storytelling, scripts and narrative design, and at home he has two daughters who are knowledgeable about "Frozen". His suggested formula: "Retro plus modernity plus children plus adults plus professionalism."
Retro means that this is about princesses who dance through castles in beautiful clothes and sing musical numbers. Compared to earlier works, however, the princesses are more modern, i.e. more emancipated. The children are also fascinated by Elsa's supernatural powers because they understand magic as an instrument of longed-for self-empowerment, even towards adults. They, on the other hand, find the film's political messages exciting: Power makes one lonely. Ackermann names the Disney studios as the last variable, whether it's their experience, their professionalism and their business acumen.
So it's that simple.
"Unfortunately, it's not that simple. There are too many imponderables for that," says Ackermann. One caveat would be that the Disney studios have been dominating animation films since 2006 at the latest, when they took over the more creative competitor Pixar.
What they tackle turns into gold, which shines brighter than any mountain snow. But "Frozen" is an exception even for Disney: It is the most successful animated film ever, and since 2013 has grossed more than a billion euros. If Disney knew its own Anna and Elsa secret, the company would not make films like "Vaiana", which three years later made only half of the "Frozen" money, despite the usual merciless marketing and technical effort.
So what makes "Frozen" so special? Jürgen Schopper teaches "Film and Animation" in Nuremberg, and is also the Creative Director at ARRI Media GmbH. He answers the question with "nothing at first." For him, the story of the "Frozen" initially only looks like a classic hero's journey, as it is the basis of many myths and also modern adventure stories: The protagonist goes on a mission, meets characters who join him and become his friends, he has to master challenges, he is shown the way.
But, says Schopper, there are also decisive differences to traditional hero's journeys: The hero is not a daredevil or a prince, but a young woman, Anna, who is looking for her sister. This, in turn, does not passively wait for rescue as in traditional stories, but lives in a self-chosen exile. Elsa's story is given a lot of space in the script, which is rare in isolated characters. She wants to be left in peace. In "Let go now" she sings: "And I'll slam the doors." "Children know that of themselves when they go into the room angrily," says Schopper. The audience wants to identify with the main characters. Girls want to be Elsa today.
The hermit Elsa is surprisingly popular with the public. After the film came out, Walmart sold more Elsa dolls than Anna's - overall, Frozen 2014 overtook Barbie as the most successful licensed toy brand for girls. Many American parents have given their newborn daughters the name of the Frozen: In 2013 Elsa was still number 527 on the hit list of girls' names, a year later it was number 286.
The fact that my child is so crazy about the icy princess with the magical powers would be good news if we had a son. A study by the American Brigham Young University from 2016 shows that boys benefit from working with princesses - they become more empathetic, more self-confident and get a better body feeling. In the case of girls, on the other hand, extensive enthusiasm for princesses increases rather stereotypical behavior: They are less likely to get dirty, try out new things less often and are less confident in math and science.
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