The latter half of 2013 in cinema was marked by a torrent of unequivocally excellent films. Yet Frozen, the Walt Disney Animation Studios film, was perhaps the biggest surprise hit. With the recent dearth in Pixar masterpieces, the movie demonstrates a Disney still capable of endearing storytelling and vivid animation.
Much credit must be given to the decision to craft Elsa not as your run–of–the–mill evil sorceress, but as a complex character with her own inner self as the primary antagonist. What could’ve been a flat tale of the good against the evil instead gave us a remarkable canvas for character development, something wholly but pleasantly unexpected.
It would be unfair to say that the film completely squanders the opportunity Elsa provides for a deep and multifaceted story. Indeed the design of Elsa in this manner—bearing in mind that this after all is a children’s film—ought to be enough to elevate Frozen into the pantheon of animation classics.
And yet, what we do see of Elsa has left many an audience asking, what would’ve been had Frozen been more the story of Elsa?
In Disney’s defence, this likely would’ve proven to be impossible within the bounds of a children’s film—Anna is instantly far more relatable a character from a younger viewer’s perspective, and unsurprisingly so. A character study film on Elsa, what I’m tempted to say is what I want, certainly would’ve been impossible for this reason.
Consider this what if: Frozen remains the same movie right up until the climatic moment of Anna’s selflessness, where instead gasp she remains frozen. The final chapter of the story thus inevitably becomes Elsa’s, and how she copes with the devastating loss and grows from the unrestrained act of love.
With Anna forever frozen in her graceful moment of sacrifice, her ice form would thus have become a powerful symbol of love, both within the world of Frozen but arguably for us as well. A monument for a more modern understanding of love, free from the shackles of the typical (and typically Disney) love at first sight—a message the film already includes.
In the same vein that every video gamer remembers the stunning death of Aerith in Final Fantasy VII, Anna would be imbued with an almost mythical quality in the Disney universe and canon, if not more widely.
I am no creative writer, and as such I have no idea what this alternative ending would look like if fully constructed. Even so, I cannot help but to wonder whether such a change would cement Frozen as an example of the magical storytelling perhaps only animated films can fully deliver.