How Did 'Frozen' Originally End?

We simply can't let go of Frozen, the Disney animated 2013 hit that spawned many karaoke sessions, Disney on Ice shows and tiny Elsa clones as her signature dress went flying off the shelves. But at the heart of this fairy tale movie, as many are wont to forget behind the avalanche of merchandise, is one of sisterly love.

A sisterly love that almost didn't happen, if the animated film had ended the way it was originally planned to. The original ending is pretty different from what ended up on the screen.

In an interview with Entertainment WeeklyFrozen producer Peter Del Vecho revealed what was originally set to be the animated movie's conclusion. He says that the whole storyline, as we remember it, was completely different. The plot was more in line with the classic Hans Christian Andersen story The Snow Queen, which followed a young girl on a quest to find a boy from her village, who fell under the control of the evil Snow Queen. Del Vecho said:

"So when we started off, Anna and Elsa were not sisters. They weren't even royal. So Anna was not a princess. Elsa was a self-proclaimed Snow Queen, but she was a villain and pure evil — much more like the Hans Christian Andersen tale. We started out with an evil female villain and an innocent female heroine, and the ending involved a big epic battle with snow monsters that Elsa had created as her army."

But Del Vecho and his team decided the ending wasn't original enough. "It wasn't satisfying," Del Vecho said. "We had no emotional connection to Elsa — we didn't care about her because she had spent the whole movie being the villain."

The final ending to Frozen became the reveal of Prince Hans as the true villain who plots to take the crown of Arendelle away from Elsa by marrying Anna. He villainizes Elsa, who cannot control her powers and accidentally sets a massive snowstorm on her kingdom, and attempts to kill her, but Anna stops him before turning into an ice statue. The power of Elsa's love revitalizes Anna, and the two of them became a beacon of non-romantic love in Disney films.

"One of the things [Frozen director] Chris Buck had in most versions of the film was a moment where Anna's heart was frozen and needed to be thawed," Del Vecho said of the ending that ultimately made the cut. "Chris said, 'Does it always need to be true love's kiss that solves that problem? Does it always have to be the man who comes in and rescues the female? Could it be something different?' and that led to a different ending."

As much as I appreciate the innovate approach that Del Vecho and Buck had to Frozen by making it a tale of sisterly love — and understand, for branding purposes the sheer marketing power behind Elsa — I'm actually a fan of the original Snow Queen story. The Hans Christian Anderson story on its own is already quite subversive and, dare I say it, feminist. The protagonist is a young girl who takes it on herself to save a boy, meeting quirky and complex characters on the way who both help and hinder her quest. The Snow Queen herself is in the vein of many a fairy tale villain — though I've always been fascinated by fairy tales' fears of powerful and empowered women, often in the form of an evil stepmother, who, in many original tales, is actually the evil mother. That's right, there are some huge Elektra complexes going on in fairy tales.

Before I get caught up in my fairy tale analyses, I recommend watching the 1957 Soviet Union-era animated film, The Snow Queen, which does a a stricter adaptation of the Andersen story, and has some breathtaking animation.