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Behind Elsa’s Frozen 2 Song Into the Unknown


Frozen 2 opens in theaters on November 22, and was recently invited to talk with the filmmakers of the highly-anticipated sequel. After the first film (buy here), every child and their mom was singing “Let It Go,” so one of the big questions for the new film was about which song was going to spark the imagination in the same way. As fans who attended Disney’s D23 Expo know, it is clearly going to be Elsa’s song “Into the Unknown.”

Early in the film, Elsa (Idina Menzel) is playing charades with her family. She seems distracted from the fun, however. Something has been calling to her, and she knows she’s not fully what she’s supposed to be. After she and her sister Anna (Kristen Bell) remember a lullaby that her mother Queen Idina (Evan Rachel Wood) used to sing them, Elsa is summoned by a force out of her control, and sings “Into the Unknown.” As she does, we see her fighting what’s calling, then finally surrendering to it, with unexpected results.

Brittney Lee is a visual development artist who worked on the film, and she spoke about the costumes Elsa has in the “Into the Unknown” scene. She explained that while Anna is “bright and effervescent,” Elsa is becoming more secretive and closed off. Her costumes reflect that here.

Lee explained, “She has higher collars, and gloves, and longer sleeves, and longer hemlines, and her colors get darker, and darker, and that’s meant to show you, as the audience, that she’s becoming more and more closed off to the world… when we go ‘Into the Unknown,’ she’s in the darker color again, so what could that mean?”

She continued, “One of the aspects of designing this costume was that we knew going into this moment that it was going to be at night; it was gonna come after the characters are playing charades, so a very cozy moment and there was going to be a song. So we knew that this had to be a nightgown for her. So it’s a nightgown and not a dress, but it’s an Elsa nightgown, and Elsa can be a little bit more glamorous. She’s also not restricted so much by real-world materials. That’s something that we do a lot of research on, and we make sure that we do our homework, but once ‘Let It Go’ happened, we basically set the precedent that she can make her own clothes out of ice.” She said that allowed them to use ethereal materials that defy reality.

Normand Lemay, head of story for the film talked about Elsa’s song, which is not your typical “I want” song from a Disney musical. He said, “It’s a bit tricky where Elsa, as a character, has been pushing down what’s inside of her. She’s been shying away from what she truly feels; truly wants, and that voice calls her, brings it out of herself.”

Tom MacDougall, executive music producer, spoke about how in Disney films, a song is there to advance a character forward. He said, “In this movie, we had our songwriters Bobby and Kristen Lopez back from the original movie come in. And when we looked at this movie, again, we know who Elsa is; we know what her situation is, but we don’t know why she has these powers, and then we introduce in the story that there’s a literal voice calling to her which makes her think about- is this voice maybe the answer to these questions I have? Should I go find this voice? Should I repel this voice? And as you see in this sequence, much like “Let It Go,” it sort of evolves where it starts with her hiding under the pillow, saying that I don’t wanna deal with this, you know, I’m literally blocking out the call. But then she gets almost excited about it, and then propels herself- the character, physically and emotionally through this scene until, you know, again, a big final note.” He told us that Kristen Lopez sang the song on a tape so animators had an idea of what was coming.

RELATED: The Panic! at the Disco Version of “Into the Unknown”

Michael Woodside, co-head of effects animation, spoke about following star Idina Menzel’s vocal work, her breathing and her facial expressions to bring out Elsa’s emotions. He said that they then got to stretch out reality. “One of the fun things, too, about animation is that we’re not really limited by real-world physics. You can see Elsa’s running up the hill without having a life-action, that would be a pretty hard thing to listen to in the song – so all we can do is couple a really great emotional performance with these beautiful vocals and if we’ve done our job, the audience will have fallen in love with the characters that they’ve already known, in a new way and not really know what happened, but they just know that they understand the characters and feel closer to them because of it.”

Though we can’t say more than this, here is a little hint. Magic is… different by the end of “Into the Unknown,” and it changes everything.

Having heard the entire song and seen the sequence (and the consequences) for “Into the Unknown,” it’s clear that Elsa’s song is going to be the breakout for Frozen 2. The Frozen 2 soundtrack, set for release from Walt Disney Records on Nov. 15, 2019, is now available for digital pre-order. The Frozen 2 vinyl cast songs soundtrack, Frozen 2 score album and Frozen 2 digital deluxe soundtrack are also available on Nov. 15.

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links through which we earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase, at no cost to you. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

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Jenna Busch
Jenna Busch has written and spoken about movies, TV, video games and comics all over the Internet for over a decade, co-hosted a series with Stan Lee, appeared on multiple episodes of Tabletop, written comic books and is a contributing author and assistant editor for the PsychGeeks book series including Star Wars Psychology. She founded the site Legion of Leia and hosts the Legion podcast.


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