A Peruvian author claims Disney plagiarized her life for its hit animated movie Frozen. Isabella Tanikumi is suing the Walt Disney Company for $250 million because she believes the movie is based on her 2010 autobiography Yearnings of the Heart.
Magical ice castles and wardrobe changes, talking snowmen, and fairytale intrigue aside, Tanikumi sees her own life played out in the Frozen. Many are saying that her lawsuit would not be news except for its silliness. Unless she produces her crown from a little known Andean kingdom, Tanikumi will probably be written off as a small-time success trying to get a slice of a big-time pie.
Disney’s animated film Frozen is just as popular today as when it hit theaters on Nov. 27, 2013. It has grossed a record $1.2 billion making it the most financially successful animated film of all time. Disney admits the movie is not an original story. Writers were inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen. However, some have noted that besides a frozen land and a helpful reindeer there seems to be little in common between the two stories. In The Snow Queen an evil troll shatters an evil mirror, shards of which enter the young hero’s heart and eye. He runs away with the Snow Queen. His childhood sweetheart spends years searching for him and eventually melts his heart with her tears. So the endings have similarities, except Frozen switches the main relationship to that of the sisters Elsa and Anna causing feminists everywhere to become diehard fans.
If the movie is not similar to Andersen’s story, could the writers have had a different inspiration? Could there be merit to Tanikumi’s claim that Disney plagiarized her life to write Frozen?
Amazon’s synopsis gives few clues to the plot of the novel but sums up the themes, saying only the story is about a girl who wants to shape he future. A 2013 review of Tanikumi’s novel states that Tanikumi’s book reflects a person who may have been suffering from a low self image. This definitely could parallel Elsa’s journey towards self-realization. On the other hand, finding parallels between the Tanikumi’s voyage from earthquake ravaged Huaraz, Peru to the United States and Elsa’s flight from Arendelle to the frozen mountains is a bit more difficult.
Other reviews on Amazon’s website poke fun at Tanikumi’s lawsuit. Some claim the movie was better than the book and others analyze the plot of Frozen rather than the novel. Seems people are having fun exercising their wit to emphasize the ridiculousness of Tanikumi’s claim. One comment states, “It feels like she ripped off the movie Frozen…” Another, “My favorite part was when she left town and built her own castle in the mountains, made of ice! Then her sister showed up to bring her back home, ‘Let it go.’”
Tanikumi has come a long way in her life. She lives in New Jersey with her family and in addition to being a novelist is an artist, registered nurse, registered physical therapist and licensed acupuncturist. She had a fairly happy childhood in the mountain town of Huaraz until it was destroyed by an earthquake. Thousands of people, including her best friend, were killed and her large, comfortable family home was decimated along with most of the town. She and her family survived but never forgot the horror of that day. Her path took her to Lima, Europe and finally North America. Unfortunately, a major event affecting her emotional growth was the death of her beloved older sister. In Frozen, the magic of Disney allows Anna to be melted and gives the sisters a happily ever after.
It is difficult to see how Frozen might mirror Tanikumi’s novel. However, perhaps more people will pick up her book to evaluate her claims for themselves. It seems at least two of the Amazon reviewers have downloaded the Kindle version and finished the novel. They were definitely not impressed by Tanikumi’s allegations.
Tanikumi even claims that the song writers stole material from her life story to incorporate into the lyrics. This seems to be a case of a viewer making an extreme personal connection with a movie. Mountain villages, sisterly affection and lost love are not singular story lines. The Peruvian author claims Disney plagiarized her life for Frozen, but at least she stops short of asserting that Disney imitated her talking snowman Olaf.
By: Rebecca Savasio