Because fans should be critical, too

Announcement: Yet Another Useless Update on the “Frozen” Video Review

Gee, remember when I naively thought that I’d release the Frozen video review (which may or may not be titled Frozen-alysis) by July 1st? At the rate I’m going, this thing likely won’t be primed and perfected until October!

I swear I didn’t think it would take this long. As I’ve mentioned before, Frozen just happened to be the perfect template to discuss many other subjects I hold dear, including animation, music, and cinema in general. If that weren’t ambitious enough, I’m highly considering the possibility of incorporating mock storyboard segments–in which I propose alternative scenarios the movie could take (which may or may not be called “Marshall-ternatives”)–and maybe even actual animation of my own (don’t get excited, though: as of now, my rudimentary technique couldn’t pass muster on a Hanna-Barbera television show).

Is my reach exceeding my grasp? Quite possibly. But I can’t deny that, as nerve-wrecking as this process has been, I’ve been having an absolutely smashing time working on it! I’m writing and revising everyday: I’m strengthening my arguments; I’m crafting appropriate jokes; I’m constantly searching for the perfect soundtrack; I’m maintaining a fair and balanced perspective (there’s quite a lot to love about this movie!); and, most importantly, I’m doing everything in my power to ensure a coherent and entertaining viewing experience.

Whether it will all pay off or not is, surprisingly, not my biggest concern. I’m just having a good ol’ time doing some filmmaking. Not in the traditional way, but filmmaking nonetheless. And since making movies (and music) is my ultimate goal, which all the joy and the agony that comes with it, I could not be happier.

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8 responses

  1. Dan

    Frozen’s deviation from the source material reminds me of something a commentor on Mark Mayerson’s animation blog once said: “To be fair to Walt, he didn’t actually start out making movies for children either – that crept in during 50s.

    But ever since then the perception that “cartoons are for kids” has predominated – despite the absurd contradiction that so many golden age shorts have had to be edited or excluded for television consumption.

    Too many animated features today seem to be made ‘back-to-front’ – rather than building around a basic story concept they appear to start with the premise ‘this is a kids film’ and then try to build it on a perceived pre-existing formula to this end.

    It is worth noting that the original Disney features were created by building on the most memorable elements of the source material, then letting the characters’ personalities determine the way these played out. There was no attempt to shoehorn elements into the plot that were not in someway already present.

    Nowadays the original source seems to be the first thing to go.”

    August 1, 2014 at 3:09 am

    • This is very true, although I’m on the fence as to how it affected Frozen. On one hand, they squandered quite a bit of excellent story material, presumably to keep the length of the film down (I imagine a truer adaptation of The Snow Queen would be about two-and-a-half hours). On the other hand, I still think the choice to make the two main women sisters was a wonderful idea that simply wasn’t executed as well as it could have been. Certainly the decision was made to adhere to the Disney Princess™ “legacy” (“We’ve got a princess and a queen in our Disney movie!”), but that wasn’t automatically a bad thing. Most other things, like Olaf the Snowman, were definitely put in to satisfy the fabled kids’ movie formula. The movie’s a mixed bag, to say the least, but one that could have easily been shaped into something truly worthy of a billion dollars.

      It’s funny that you bring this up to me now. I just watched Ratatouille for the first time in a few years, and, afterwards, was struck by how thoroughly it avoided (or, even better, didn’t even seem aware of) the kids’ movie formula. In fact, next time you watch an animated movie, ask yourself this question: how many of these characters solely exist to sale toys of themselves? In Ratatouille: NONE. Yet another reason–besides it just being a wonderful film–to continue proclaiming Ratatouille as my favorite Pixar film.

      August 1, 2014 at 8:17 pm

  2. Brian

    I saw a video comparing Neon Genesis Evangelion Vs Rebuild Of Evangelion, and the person who posted the video, DouchebagChocolat, said this, regarding Anno’s mindset when making the Rebuild movies:

    “Anno is an artist. No, I’m not saying he’s a prodigy or anything. I just mean he’s an artist. He creates things. Downplaying themselves is what artists do. They release something great while everyone is drooling over their majesty, and they are the ones who point out the most critical flaws because they are constantly striving to make things better. Because of that, you need to take everything this man says with a grain of salt.”

    It’s an interesting quote. Is it true? Is it possible to judge all artists based on this statement? And how do you think it could apply to Frozen, as well as Disney’s previous track record?

    August 1, 2014 at 7:24 pm

    • Speaking from experience on both sides (as a fan and as an artist), I’d say this is definitely true for most artists. The thing that irks artists the most is that everything outside of the creation of their art (specifically, how people connect with it) is beyond their control. A personal piece may be received as self-indulgent nonsense, while a commercial piece may be hailed as a work of true art. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what the artist has to say: no matter what their intentions may be, the art takes on a life of its own once its released. It’s truly amazing how art of any kind can affect people’s lives in ways the artist could never imagine. This is personally why, if I ever come in contact with an artist whose work has impacted me, I never shower them with praise or tell them how great their work is (besides, they know how great it is already): I just say, “Thank you.” Because all the artist needs to know–maybe even all they want to know–is that their work was a positive influence on people.

      Anno is something of a special case because he inadvertently restored life to an art form whose fandom he generally hated. You could almost call Evangelion a failure in that regard. It’s sort of like what happened with Blur’s “Song 2”: what was intended as a parody of grunge (which Britpop in general was a reaction against) became their most famous and most popular song. In it’s sarcastic brevity, “Song 2” accidentally captured the essence and dumb fun of grunge better than most grunge bands did. The problem is that, in both cases, the casual viewer/listener won’t dig into the artist any deeper than that specific work, which means they’ll be forever associated with a misrepresentation of their true identity. Such is the risk of creation.

      It’s much more difficult to speak in these terms in regards to Frozen, except in one general conclusion: the mass success of all three of these works says a lot more about the generations that made them successful than it does about the works themselves. The world was waiting for something like Frozen to come along at some point. Unfortunately, it just happened to be Frozen.

      August 1, 2014 at 9:21 pm

      • Brian

        Interestingly enough, I’ve never seen Frozen, or a lot of Disney movies that focus on the princesses (I’m not much of a film person), so if I ever see your review, I’ll just be along for the ride.

        Your insightful response actually highlights why I consider the art and the artist to be two completely separate entities when it comes to critique. We, at times, may never truly know the thought process of an artist, and the people who are fond of said artist’s work may see things that the artist won’t, and vice-versa.

        August 2, 2014 at 4:41 pm

  3. Frozen is an interesting phenomenon, but I would argue that a large part of its success depends upon the idea of the “New Disney Renaissance”. As in a period where all films are linked narrative-wise and artistically. The storytelling while not always coherent is always more ambitious than that in non-Renaissance films. In such eras, the movie becomes a community event rather than just a past-time. It gets watched whether it’s good or bad.

    I consider Tangled equivalent to The Little Mermaid. It’s the movie that unleashes the Renaissance. It makes seeing Disney movies in theaters a safe investment again because you know every network and neighbor will be talking about it. Frozen, I argue, resembles “Pocahontas”, a problematic flawed film that benefits from prior goodwill.

    Zootopia, Giants, Moana and possibly King of the Elves will be the real test. They will determine whether Tangled and Frozen represent an aberration or a real trend.

    August 2, 2014 at 1:27 am

    • I’m all for community events with it comes to cinema because it’s becoming rarer and rarer to be genuinely excited for any upcoming film. But “New Disney Renaissance?” If anything, that should tell you that nostalgia is, as usual, ruling people’s judgment as far as the actual quality of these movies are concerned. And I say that as someone who loves Tangled.

      And you’re right: Frozen most definitely benefited from the goodwill created by Tangled (if I recall correctly, a lot of people dubbed Frozen as Tangled 2.0 before it premiered). I doubt what follows Frozen will live up to the expectations created by it, but it will definitely make a lot of money (if not a billion dollars). I just wish all that ambition went into the telling of the story and not just the content.

      August 2, 2014 at 2:08 am

  4. rosemon

    It’s interesting how this film has provoked multiple perspectives, though the most profound do come from women familiar with the original story, and black women who are very much tired of Disney mostly featuring white female leads with similar looking faces. I suppose the link below may provide more food for thought, though I understand your creative process is already getting more and more ambitious.

    http://frozensuckstho.tumblr.com/links

    August 3, 2014 at 6:30 pm

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