Anna and Elsa have grown up a bit, but there’s no such thing as a happily ever after.
No one could have anticipated, when ‘Frozen’ first hit theaters in late 2013, exactly the impact that Walt Disney Animation’s 53rd feature length animated film would have on viewers all over the world. With a global box office of more than 1.2 billion dollars, Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee’s reimagining of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen” won the adoration of adults and children alike. Now, six years later, a new chapter in the ‘Frozen’ story emerges.
“We did a small short, [Frozen Fever],” says director Jennifer Lee, who also again drafts the screenplay for the sequel. “When we saw the characters animated again, we got emotional.”
“We realized that in the first movie, we had both a myth and a fairy tale going on at the same time,” adds producer Peter Del Vecho.. “Elsa was definitely a mythic character, which generally carries the weight of the world on their shoulders and do things the rest of us can’t. They also typically suffer a tragic fate, which might have happened to Elsa in the first film were it not for Anna.”
“Mythic characters are magical,” Lee explains. “But it’s not aspirational, it’s about the hard answers and truths that we face. There can be a tragic aspect, too, so in that way, they teach us about ourselves.”
“‘Frozen II’ is even bigger and more epic than the first,” says Buck. “But most importantly, in the end ‘Frozen’ and ‘Frozen II’ work together to form one complete story.”
At the end of the original, Elsa had become the Queen of Arendelle and, through her adventure, discovered that her ice powers were nothing to be embarrassed by.
“I love what Elsa represents,” says Idina Menzel, reprising her iconic role. “I think anytime we are able to see a woman personified who is embracing how strong and powerful she is, that’s a good thing. She’s not apologizing anymore for her power. She owns it and has a sense of pride about it.”
“[In ‘Frozen II’,] Elsa hears a voice calling that no one else can hear. She tries to block it, but it won’t stop. It shows her pieces of the past. It promises answers about why she is the way she is, so it’s both epic and a mystery, and she’s compelled to find that voice.”
Meanwhile, Kristen Bell’s Anna is revelling in the fact that she and her sister are finally back together.
“She’s the optimist,” Lee continues. “These characters are only human. They’re not magical, but often enter into the dangers of a magical world. They go into the belly of the beast, suffering hardship and loss with great struggles, yet rise triumphant.”
Kristoff (and Sven the Reindeer) are right there, too with ‘Mindhunters’ star Jonathan Groff back to voice them both.
“I had butterflies in my stomach on my way to record the first day,” Groff recalls. “I couldn’t remember how I had done Kristoff. Then when I got into the session, there was Jenn [Lee], Chris [Buck] and Peter [Del Vecho]. They’re all the same people from the first movie. There’s this familial connection that we all have. We’ve grown up together. Getting the opportunity to record the second one felt like a homecoming, and I felt freer and more creative than I did even during the first one.”
In love with Anna, Kristoff is desperate to finally pop the question. Fate has a few other ideas, however, and Kristoff winds up facing his emotions on the matter.
“We talk about female empowerment,” says star Evan Rachel Wood, who voices Anna and Elsa’s mother, Iduna. “It’s led by two women, but I personally think that the representation Jonathan gives for the guys is out of this world. It’s so subliminal, I don’t even know if people will pick up on it.”
“There’s one moment where Anna is in distress and [Kristoff] swoops in and picks her up,” Bell recalls. “It’s in the midst of battle. He doesn’t say ‘I’ve got you’ and start taking over. He swoops her up and very quickly looks at her and says, ‘I’m here. What do you need?’”
Of course, Olaf is back as well with Josh Gad returning to celebrate the scene stealing snowman’s new permafrost.
“In the first movie,” Gad explains, “He was this innocent ball of naiveté who was willing to basically go out into the summer sun because he didn’t know any better. In this movie, he’s almost gone from toddler to fully grown child. Now, he’s starting to ask those questions that don’t always have easy answers. From a comedic perspective, there was so much to play with.”
Despite a lot of familiar faces, changes are coming to Arendelle with the filmmakers being inspired by the growth they’ve seen in their own children over the past six years.
“The world gets a little grittier for our characters,” says Buck. “ A little tougher. There’s a lot of change in the movie. It’s a theme you can see within the story and even in the look of the film. Autumn reflects the maturity we see in our characters and with the change of seasons comes a beautiful new palette of rich autumnal colors we’ve never explored before. If you take a single frame from ‘Frozen,’ the colors alone would tell you that it’s ‘Frozen.’ And now, the same is true for ‘Frozen II.’”
“If ‘Frozen’ was happily ever after, then ‘Frozen II’ is the day after happily ever after,” says Lee. “Life gets in the way. It throws you curveballs. So this is about learning to fight for your place in the world. Do what’s right. All of the grownup things you have to do. There’s still fun and humor, but it’s a deeply emotional story about finding out who we are meant to be.”
After their acclaimed ‘Let It Go’, songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez are back with seven all-new songs.
‘Let it Go’ is no easy act to follow. Elsa’s iconic power ballad from the 2013 original not only met with acclaim (winning both an Academy Award and a Grammy), but found itself firmly ingrained in pop culture, selling nearly 11 million copies in its first year. Now, songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez return for the highly anticipated sequel, bringing with them seven all-new songs that are destined to become beloved earworms. Let’s explore each of those seven and find out made them perfect choices to sound out in the magical kingdom of Arendelle.
“The music of the Lopezes and Christophe Beck are part of the DNA of ‘Frozen,” says director Chris Buck. “We couldn’t imagine building ‘Frozen II’ without them. They bring such a rich, emotional understanding of the world and characters, and through their incredible music we have been able to really deepen and expand the story.”
“The songs and score of ‘Frozen II’ reflect the growth of the characters and the deepening of their story,” adds director Jennifer Lee, who worked in tandem with the pair while drafting the new screenplay. “The music is fun but emotional, personal yet powerful, intimate but also epic. Kristen, Bobby and Christophe have definitely outdone themselves and taken the music to brave new heights.”
All is Found
Performed by Evan Rachel Wood
A flashback to Anna and Elsa’s childhood introduces Evan Rachel Wood as their mother, Iduna. The audience soon learns exactly where the girls’ love of songs comes from.
“Evan Rachel Wood has a warmth to her voice,” says Anderson-Lopez, “So it’s wonderful to give her this mysterious and intimate song.”
“It is an epic melody in disguise,” adds Lopez. “It’s really Queen Iduna’s secret message to Elsa, and it serves as a road map to the mythology of the story.”
Not only does ‘All is Found’ repeat orchestrally throughout the film, the end credits features a version performed by Kacey Musgraves.
Some Things Never Change
Performed by Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Josh Gad and Jonathan Groff
A little bit of time has passed since we last saw all our favorite characters, but ‘Some Things Never Change’ helps remind us of who they are and of the personal journeys that they’re on.
“Anna and Elsa are growing up,” explains Anderson-Lopez. “And our own girls are growing up, too. Our daughters are around the same age as Jennifer Lee’s daughter. They informed the choices we made with ‘Frozen,’ and have also informed the choices we made together with ‘Frozen 2.’ As the girls get more independent and have to walk their own paths and face their own moments of crisis without us there to protect them, it’s ushered in a new era of parenting for us, which also made its way into the film.”
“I feel like all of our songs lean into the theme of growing up,” adds Lopez. “And the epic tone of the new movie set by Jennifer and Chris was something we wanted to hit right from the beginning.”
Into the Unknown
Performed by Idina Menzel (featuring Norwegian singer AURORA)
A sort of companion to ‘Let It Go’, ‘Into the Unknown’ centers on Elsa’s quest to follow a mysterious voice that is calling out to her.
“There is something pulling, almost seducing Elsa,” explains Anderson-Lopez. “It’s a voice that only she can hear... [Idina Menzel] is our muse. Her voice can go from low into a charged, passionate place—it’s so exciting. And in ‘Into the Unknown,’ she’s really vulnerable—it’s a side of Elsa you haven’t heard yet. It’s more mature. It’s questioning. It was so fun to explore with her.”
“When Elsa starts hearing the call, she wants to avoid it,” says Lee. “But it won’t stop and it shows her pieces of the past and it shows her what her magic could be… She starts off saying ‘I hear you, but I don’t want to.’ But she can’t help herself. It’s this wonderful tug-of-war and ends up with her surrendering as she reaches the edge of a cliff. It’s the catalyst for change.”
“The voice is haunting her—aggravating her at first,” adds Menzel. “She needs to understand who she is and why she has powers. Deep down she knows she’ll find those answers if she goes into the unknown and follows this mysterious voice.”
The ‘Frozen II’ end credits also feature a version of ‘Into the Unknown’ performed by Panic! At The Disco.
When I Am Older
Performed by Josh Gad
Olaf’s big number reminds us that growing older doesn’t necessarily mean growing wiser.
“Olaf is alone in the forest, but this forest is unlike any forest he’s ever seen,” says Anderson-Lopez. “Things catch on fire, the wind takes him for a ride, there are giant footprints, and he sees eyes looking up at him from the water… There’s an important theme in the bridge of the song: ‘Growing up means adapting, puzzling out your world and your place.’ That’s really what all the characters are doing.”
“‘When I Am Older’ actually does double duty,” adds Lopez. “We get to see that Olaf is changing, and we get to explore more of the enchanted forest, which is a big part of the movie.”
“What makes the music of ‘Frozen 2’ so special is that it’s not trying to be ‘Frozen’,” says Gad. “It is doing its own thing and adding to an already incredible tapestry of music.”
Lost in the Woods
Performed by Jonathan Groff
Stuck at his own personal crossroads, Jonathan Groff’s Kristoff (and Sven) gets to perform an ‘80s glam rock style song about what he’s going through.
“He doesn’t know why Anna left without telling him,” says Lee. “The song is hilarious because it represents what he thinks of love. Plus, he’s accompanied by singing reindeer, which makes complete sense because it’s Kristoff’s fantasy. It’s genuine, too. He’s singing about his love for her.”
“He’s a guy’s guy who’s falling into a bit of a crisis because his true love isn’t understanding what he’s trying to do,” adds Anderson-Lopez. “The 1980s was that brief moment in music when men were allowed to sing those big power ballads—and to be vulnerable while doing it.”
An additional version of ‘Lost in the Woods’ is performed by Weezer during the ‘Frozen II’ end credits.
Performed by Idina Menzel and Evan Rachel Wood
“Elsa discovers what’s behind the voice that’s been calling her,” Anderson-Lopez teases.
“Everything culminates for Elsa within this song,” says Menzel. “She tames the Nokk and rides the water horse to Ahtohallan. It’s a mythical, spiritual, amazing moment. And she comes to really love herself.”
The Next Right Thing
Performed by Kristen Bell
Unsure of what her next move should be, Anna sings a song about her own philosophy on how to do good.
“Anna needs to choose optimism over despair,” says Lopez. “It’s a completely different tone from the first movie.”
“I had recently watched people close to us go through the unimaginable,” as Anderson-Lopez. “As a lyricist and a mother, I looked at their strength and courage and wanted to break that down to figure out what it takes to get over something like that. We all have seen darkness. In the hands of our eternal optimist Anna, what would it take? You break it down into the next breath, the next step.”
“That’s actually a mantra that I have in my life when I’m anxiety-ridden or depressed,” adds Bell. “That’s the only thing you can do: the next right thing. It’s baby steps for anyone who has experienced a hardship or is flat on the floor and feels they can’t pick themselves up.”