Did you know Disney’s Frozen was initially conceived as a much different story? Continue reading below for details from the original drafts and see how the movie transformed into the box office and cultural behemoth it now is.
So it turns out that the hugely popular Disney phenomenon Frozen was vastly different in early drafts. Producer Peter Del Vecho revealed to EW (via Collider) in a recent interview the ending was completely different and more traditional in nature. Other changes included Elsa being an actual villain and Elsa and Anna not being related. See below for a more detailed explanation. Here’s a description of the original story:
“Frozen was to open with a prophecy that “a ruler with a frozen heart will bring destruction to the kingdom of Arendelle.” We’re then introduced to Anna, our pure-hearted heroine, and Elsa, an unrelated evil Snow Queen. We learn Elsa is a scorned woman; she was stood up at the altar on her wedding day and froze her own heart so she would never love again. Both Elsa and the audience assume she’s the villain from the prophecy. Fast-forward to the final act: Elsa creates an army of snow monsters to attack our heroes while Kristoff has “a Han Solo moment” and comes to help Anna. To halt Elsa’s attacking army, the two-faced Prince Hans triggers a massive avalanche — not caring that the avalanche also puts Anna, Elsa and all of Arendelle in jeopardy. Anna realizes Elsa is their only hope, so she convinces her to use her powers to save the kingdom. The twist is that the prophecy from the beginning is actually not about Elsa, but about Hans — he’s the one with a metaphorical frozen heart because he’s an unfeeling sociopath. Elsa’s heart is then unfrozen allowing her to love again.”
Much different huh? Besides the basic elements of Elsa having powers, the twist of Hans being evil all along and everyone generally ending up in the same place the movies would not have been recognizable. So why the big change? Here’s what producer Peter Del Vecho explained:
“The problem was that we felt like we had seen it before. It wasn’t satisfying. We had no emotional connection to Elsa — we didn’t care about her because she had spent the whole movie being the villain. We weren’t drawn in. The characters weren’t relatable.”
“One of the things Chris Buck had in most versions of the film was a moment where Anna’s heart was frozen and needed to be thawed. Chris said, ‘Does it always need to be true love’s kiss that solves that problem? Does it always have to be the man who comes in and rescues the female? Could it be something different?’ and that led to a different ending. Now that they’re related, Elsa had her own fear and it was Anna who would save the day instead of Elsa by rescuing her sister — and it would be that selfless act that thawed Elsa’s heart.”
“Making them related led us to the idea of her living in fear of her powers,” Del Vecho says. “What if she’s afraid of who she is? And afraid of hurting the ones she loves? Now we had a character in Anna who was all about love and Elsa who was all about fear. That led to making Elsa a much more dimensional sympathetic character, and instead of the traditional good vs. evil theme we had one that we felt was more relatable: Love vs. fear, and the premise of the movie became that love is stronger than fear.”
The EW article also goes into detail about the progression for how they got the film’s climax to work visually. For anyone fascinated by what goes on behind the scenes of a movie’s development I suggest checking it out. I’ve often said that one thing I would love to do is sit as a fly on the wall to see every aspect of a major motion picture progress from idea to finished product. I find the behind the scenes stories of movies extremely interesting.
So what do you think? Do you like the theatrical version of Frozen better than the early draft?