Disney’s latest smash animated hit, Frozen, has now outdone previous champion Pixar’s Toy Story 3 and is now the highest grossing animated film of all time. The movie has won two academy awards for best animated film and best soundtrack. The film is known for its soundtrack and deep plot exploring the adventures and mishaps of Anna and her friends to find her sister Elsa. The events of the film are carried along by brief stints of musical numbers featuring the characters. On top of the academy awards it has already received, Frozen has been met with high critical acclaim and has quickly become a fan favorite.
Animated features often walk the line between what is considered high artistic film and simple pop culture diversions. Disney’s animated features are often met with positive reception, and are very capable of achieving the standard of high art that films often seek. What is referred to by fans as the “Disney Renaissance” encompasses the animated films of the 1990’s and early 2000’s and their ability to express human emotion. Frozen taking highest grossing animated film over a sequel to an older generation’s sequel could be the spark of a computer animated “Disney Renaissance.” For the generation of kids that grew up during this era, the fondness for of these films follows them all the way through to college and beyond. Something about the magic of Disney keeps the memories and emotions embedded in these films fresh in the minds and hearts of those that enjoy them. In fact, when one considers the fact that Toy Story 3 was the previous holder of the title, it is likely that members of the 90’s generation were a large part of that film’s success.
This is the type of work that animation does to its audiences. Nostalgia can be a powerful force, and something about animation spurs these feelings almost immediately. After all, what child didn’t shed a tear for Mufasa’s death? How many now grown young adults in the world still know the starting words to Mulan’s “I’ll Make a Man Out of You?” What exactly is it that Disney’s animated films manage to capture again and again? There is some strange, unknowable quality in these films that never fails to properly captivate audiences.
Frozen is no different, yet is success is not simply built on nostalgia. After all, for a title featuring brand new characters to outgross a series that has a major nostalgia factor backing it up is no small achievement. For Frozen to take the throne of highest grossing animated film over a series that has been a part of many grown adult’s live now, is certainly nothing to take sitting down. Disney has made an animated feature that breaks the mold of what is expected of animated films. Frozen‘s Elsa is a rich character that expresses something that everyone has been able to relate to at some point, being forced to hide one’s emotions away to the point of being so bottled up, one breaks down. The characterization of this film expresses something that a great many people do not consider when looking at animation. The characters are actual characters, not simply pixels or lines that speak. For some time animation was simply regarded as childish or not high art, however, creativity can approach higher and unprecedented heights through exploring new mediums, such as animation. If Frozen had been a live action film, it would not have been able to capture Anna’s adventure properly. With films like this one, animation is on its way to becoming a more seriously considered medium.
Opinion by Michael Foster