MANILA, Philippines – We may be going into the summer months, but it’s still a Frozen season.
The film from Walt Disney Animation Studios is about fearless optimist Anna (voiced by Kristen Bell) who sets off on an epic journey to find her sister Elsa (Idina Menzel), whose icy powers have trapped the kingdom of Arendelle in eternal winter.
Encountering Everest-like conditions, mystical trolls and a talking snowman named Olaf, Anna teams up with a rugged mountain man named Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) to battle the elements in a frantic race to save the kingdom.
The film recently picked up two Oscars at the recently concluded 86th Academy Awards: one for Best Animated Feature Film and one for Best Original Song for “Let It Go.”
With the award-winning animated film about to be released on Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D and DVD, Disney has released 10 fun facts you may not have known about Frozen:
1. The creative team took a trip to Norway to research the country’s landscapes, architecture, and people.
Frozen co-director Chris Buck reveals: “While the movie is not set in Norway, Frozen was definitely influenced by the country. Our art director – Mike Giaimo – led a research trip to Norway and the architecture, landscape and people heavily inspired our design. From Arendelle’s great fjord setting to the rosemaling (Norwegian type of artwork) you see on our characters’ costumes, much of the look and feel of the film was influenced by photographs Mike and the design team brought back from their trip.
2. Elsa has much more hair than the average human.
Frozen co-director Jennifer Lee explains: “We did a lot of research into the hair designs of our lead characters, especially Elsa. In Norway, there are lots of braids, which we love, but we wanted to do something a little different, too. We brought in a New York-based hairstylist named Danilo who came up with some sophisticated designs for Elsa – and we love her final look. The average human head has about 100,000 hairs. Anna has about 140,000 hairs, but Elsa has 400,000 hairs on her head. It takes a lot of hair to perfect Elsa’s look.”
3. John Lasseter’s dog inspired the performance of the Frozen reindeer, Sven.
Head of animation Lino DiSalvo comments: “When we first started to work on Sven, we wanted him to move around in a similar way to a reindeer. However, we brought a reindeer into Disney for research and we discovered they don’t do anything; they just stand there! That’s when we thought about approaching Sven as an excited dog. He’s like an inquisitive pooch that sniffs around the place. We spoke to John Lasseter about this and he said, ‘My Labrador, Frankie, is always in your face and licking you. It’s perfect.’”
4. In an early version of the story, Elsa had a large army of creepy snow creatures.
Co-director Chris Buck explains: “In an early version of the story, Elsa created a whole army of huge snow creatures. There were tons of them, but we ended up with just one snowy bodyguard in the final film – and he’s called Marshmallow. In those early versions, Olaf was the very first creature that Elsa made with her magical powers. She wasn’t very good with her magical skills at that point. You know how the first pancake you make in a batch is always burnt or a little wrong? Well, that’s Olaf. Thankfully, he’s got a much bigger role in the movie now. He’s not just a funny sidekick. He’s an integral part of the story.”
5. Before Jonathan Groff was cast as Kristoff, his character was a very different guy.
Co-director Chris Buck reveals: “When we first looked into casting the role of Kristoff, he was a gruff mountain man of few words. Then Jonathan Groff came in for an audition and he changed our view of the character. Jonathan is very charming, but he is also very chatty. His voice has such a wonderful quality and everyone thought he was great. Plus, people started to swoon with him around! We fell in love with Jonathan and his voice, so the character evolved into the Kristoff you see in the film.”
6. Elsa’s ice palace is based on a snowflake design.
Visual development artist Brittney Lee reveals: “In Arendelle, there are a lot of decorative details in the characters’ clothing and architecture. It’s called rosemaling, and we did lots of research into it. When Elsa leaves Arendelle to create her own icy kingdom, snowflake patterns replace the rosemaling. If you look closely at her cape, you’ll see snowflake detailing. The floor of the ice palace Elsa builds is in the shape of a snowflake, too. The columns of her palace – the ones that rise up from the floor – are actually arms of a snowflake. She’s surrounded by snowflakes in her new icy home.”
7. The actors’ performances in the sound booth inspired the animation.
Co-director Chris Buck explains: “The animators get videos of the actors recording their lines for the movie. We don’t use motion capture, but the animators will watch how the voice talent acts in the recording booth. The actors really will act in there. They are not just doing the voice, they pull faces and there will be the little curl of a lip. A lot of these expressions will be used in the animation. The characters don’t look anything like the actors, but you can feel them in the performance.”
8. In early versions of the story, Elsa was a truly villainous snow queen.
Co-director Jennifer Lee comments: “The story of Frozen continually evolved during the production process. At one point, Elsa was an evil villain in the story. The Snow Queen was ethereal and she wasn’t very innocent, but she’s a lot more complex now. She makes certain choices out of fear, and they are not the best choices – but she’s not an evil villain in the story. We felt like she had much more to offer than that.” The creators of Frozen revealed a similar tidbit in their Reddit AMA session as well.
To reflect the original vision for Elsa, her character’s design was also very different in the film’s early stages. Co-director Chris Buck explains: “Elsa’s design went through a lot of changes during the production of the movie. Originally, Elsa had spikier hair and there was an evil edge to her look. She had a bluish tint to her skin because she was icier, but she’s a lot softer now. We couldn’t be more proud of the end result.”
9. A castle in Oslo inspired the royal castle of Arendelle.
Frozen art director Mike Giaimo reveals: “During our research trip to Norway, we visited a beautiful castle in Oslo. The main room inside the castle was awe-inspiring. It had a beautiful hand-painted pattern on all four walls that blew us away. It was a stunning tomato red color, and it looked amazing. That inspired the walls in our royal castle interior.”
10. Some of the cast members recorded their lines together.
Co-director Chris Buck reveals: “People are often surprised to hear that our actors mostly record their lines alone in the sound booth. However, we wanted to bring some of the cast together for Frozen. It’s hard to get characters to feel like they’re really responding to each other when their voices have been recorded months apart in different rooms. The schedules of Idina Menzel and Kristen Bell were pretty crazy, but we tried to bring them together as much as we could. It was great to see them play off each other. Sometimes we’d say, ‘You guys know the scene. You don’t have to say all the words as they’re written in the script. Just go!’” – Walt Disney Studios / Rappler.com
Frozen will be available on Blu-Ray, Blu-Ray 3D, and DVD on March 18. The information above is from a release shared by Walt Disney Studios and Magnavision