Top 10 films of 2013: Frozen
We kick off our countdown of our top 10 movies of 2013 with Disney's wonderful Frozen...
Over the past few weeks, Den of Geek writers have been voting for their favourite films of the year. The votes were weighted, calculated, and compiled into a list of our favourites of 2013's films. Here, at number 10, is Frozen...
I've had the joy of seeing Frozen a couple of times now, and I continue to conclude that no film of 2013 has made me quite so happy. Cards on the table: I've always loved good Walt Disney Animation Studios movies (and have remained steadfastly intolerant of the bad ones) and had lost any real hope of seeing the long-in-gestation Disney take on The Snow Queen brought to the screen.
Then the announcement came that the film was back in production. Then the announcement came that its release date had been brought forward. Then the day came when I sat back and saw the movie, unsure what kind of Disney movie I was going to get. A pretty special one, as it turned out.
I left it a few days before penning my full review of the film, which is on the site here, and then sat back a bit puzzled at some of the more negative reactions that followed. But in truth, there are criticisms of Frozen that hit. If you don't warm to the songs, for instance, you're all but out of the movie. If you're looking for a conventional fairy tale, or a slavish take on The Snow Queen, you're also out. I also get that some warm to Tangled more - a film I also have a lot of love for.
But Frozen felt very special to me, and on repeated viewings, even more so. What struck me in particular wasn't necessarily the issue of gender - although you can't help but acknowledge that this is one of only two massive films of 2013 to be headlined by two females (The Heat being the other) - but that of loneliness.
I've long held the belief that films targeted, at least in part, at younger audiences have a very special and privileged opportunity to talk about issues that otherwise are hard to sometimes address. Just look at how Tim Burton's Frankenweenie opened up themes of death and loss, and how we deal with it, woven brilliantly into the midst of a wonderful animated movie.
In the case of Frozen, we get to explore two very different, both heartbreaking perspectives on loneliness. On the one hand, we have a character who knows why they're lonely, knows why they don't fit in, and are tortured by it. On the other, there's the loneliness that has a smile plastered on it, as Anna - the film's main character - portrays continual optimism, in spite of the fact that she's got no understanding at all of why she's been left on her own. Screenwriter Jennifer Lee - who also co-directed - explored this with the character of Vanellope in Wreck-It Ralph, and she fleshes it out even more here.
On top of that, Frozen doesn't forget that its raison d'etre is to entertain, and it does just that. On the musical front, Do You Want To Build A Snowman is the highlight, the best Disney movie opening number since The Belles Of Notre Dame. The comedy hits hard too, and the sheer visual spectacle of Frozen is something to behold as well.
Then there's one key moment, that I don't want to spoil here. Just to say that at one screening of the film I attended, this resulted in the loudest gasp I'd ever heard from a cinema audience. That said moment works so well - and it's not the most important feature of Frozen at all - is testament to how well put in place everything is. There's reason and logic, there are small details attended to properly, and there's at the heart of the film the two characters I've rooted for the most on the big screen all year. Don't get me wrong: I wasn't sat during Gravity wanting Sandra Bullock to meet her maker or anything, but I really, really wanted Anna and Elsa to get together while watching Frozen.
And in a blockbuster world where goals are no longer contained, where the saving of the world is the entry-level aim, that rooting for Anna and Elsa was why Frozen worked for me. Because in the midst of the many other things I enjoyed about the film, I simply sat there wanting two lonely souls to find each other again.
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