Earlier this month, VitalThrills.com got a chance to take part in an early press day event for the upcoming Disney film Frozen 2. We’ll be giving you more info as we get closer to the premiere on November 22, but today we have a chat with directors Jennifer Lee (Disney’s new Chief Creative Officer) and Chris Buck, as well as producer and Senior Vice President of Production Peter Del Vecho. You can also check out some new stills from the film and you’ll find concept art and storyboards here.
During the presentation, we saw quite a bit of the film. Now, we don’t want to spoil anything big for you, but we can tell you a few things. The film takes place three years after the first one, and Elsa (Idina Menzel), Anna (Kristen Bell), Olaf (Josh Gad) and Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), as well as Sven the reindeer (who’s voice Kristoff does for the entertainment of the group). In the first scene we saw, the gang is playing charades. Elsa seems rather distracted, and after the group goes their separate ways for the night, Anna finds her by a window in her mother’s shawl. Anna says that she knows that this means Elsa is feeling blue, and they sing a lullaby that their mother (voiced in the film by Evan Rachel Wood) used to sing to them as children. Once Anna is asleep, however, Elsa wanders off, hearing a musical voice calling out to her.
You know about about the big musical number for Elsa from our D23 Expo coverage, but as Elsa tries and fails to ignore the voice, she realizes that she wants to go “Into the Unknown.” Fans of the song “Let It Go” aren’t going to be disappointed here. Menzel’s vocal gymnastics and the gorgeous song are going to blow audiences away (Learn more about the Frozen 2 soundtrack).
We also got a look at a magical land the gang visits, and as the film is set in autumn, things are very different. The filmmakers told us that they took a trip to Norway and Iceland for inspiration. Buck explained, “There was kind of a stark contrast between Norway and Iceland that framed the concept for us. Anna felt at home in Norway with its fairytale settings, but Elsa felt strangely at home in this dark, mythic Iceland.”
Del Vecho spoke about the difference between Anna and Elsa in terms of storytelling and setting. He said, “We realized on this trip that Anna is your perfect fairytale character. She’s an ordinary hero, not magical. She’s optimistic. Whereas Elsa is the perfect mythic character. Mythic characters are magical. They carry the weight of the world on their shoulders. In fact, the mythic characters often meet a tragic fate and we realized we had two stories going together, mythic story and a fairytale story. In the mythic aspect of it, the fear of that tragic fate is something that Anna’s been worrying about and thus protect her sister from.”
Lee spoke about Wood playing Queen Iduna in a flashback and joked that they couldn’t rehire the actress who played her in the first film. That actress, of course, was Lee herself, with the single line, “She’s ice cold.” Lee laughed, “It turns out for this one you actually have to act and sing so, yeah, Peter fired me.” She continued, “But Evan is amazing and her singing voice sits beautifully between Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel in terms of its parent sweetness and that was an amazing discovery as we get to hear her sing.” She also introduced another character. “We also have the insanely-talented, award-winning actor Sterling K. Brown who plays Lieutenant Mattias. He’s actually a character who’s been trapped in Enchanted Forest since a fierce battle broke out over 30 years ago, when Anna and Elsa’s grandfather was king.”
Frozen 2 is going to answer some questions the audience had from the first film. Buck spoke about what we’re going to learn. “There were still a lot of questions from the first film that were unanswered, and one of them was why does Elsa have icy powers? How have they grown since Anna saved Elsa’s life? Why was Anna born the way she was? Where were the parents going when their ship went down? And is there really such a thing as happily ever after?” In another clip, we saw King Agnarr, the girls’ father, tell them a story about a real enchanted forest that he visited as a child.
Buck explained, “And it’s a forest ruled by the magical spirits of nature, namely of air, fire, water and earth. And just like in nature, sometimes these spirits can be enchanting and at other times they can be dangerous. So on that visit something went very wrong and enraged the spirits. Agnarr barely survived. He doesn’t know who saved him, only that a haunting voice cried out and a magical mist enveloped the forest shoving everyone out.”
Jennifer Lee continued, “The girls are fascinated by the story, if not a little concerned, because their father does warn them, the forest may wake again and they must be prepared for whatever danger it may bring. The girls, of course, have so many questions and none of which there are answers to. The mystery is great. But to settle them, their mother sings a lullaby that was sung to her as a child about a place that has all of the answers to everything you could ever want to know. Imagine that.”
During the new film, we also learn that everyone’s favorite snowman Olaf has a permafrost, so he can really enjoy summer, “and his new passion, reading,” as Buck told us. “Kristoff is deeply in love with Anna and lives life happily in Arendelle with his trusty best friend, Sven.” There is a failed attempt at a proposal during that first scene we saw as well.
Speaking of that scene, as Elsa sings “Into the Unknown,” she realizes she’s not the only one doing magic, and something terrible happens to Arendelle. Now the gang has to set off on a trip to that enchanted forest that the girls heard of in their childhood. Buck explains, “Enchanted forests are places of transformation, a metaphor for life, and change comes for you whether you like it or not.” Well, actually, Olaf explains it in a song he has, where he tries to convince himself that the fear he’s experiencing is just because he’s young and that this will all make sense when he’s older.