Journsplit: Frozen 2

Eliora and Rei discuss the second installment of the well-loved Frozen franchise. Have you ever wondered about the significance of All is Found to the movie’s plot? Or the differences between Anna and Elsa?

Eliora: Hey guys, Journsplit is back with another episode!!

Rei: This one’s a bit lengthier today, as we’re doing Frozen 2!! 

Eliora: TLDW: Set three years after the events of the first Frozen film, the story follows the main cast Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, Olaf, and Sven, who embark on a journey beyond their kingdom of Arendelle in order to discover the origin of Elsa’s magical powers and save their kingdom after a mysterious voice calls out to Elsa.

Rei: The movie begins with a flashback to Anna and Elsa’s childhood. Queen Iduna, their mother, sings them to sleep with a lullaby she says her mother used to sing her as a child. It’s about a river called Ahtohallan, which is said to hold all the answers about the past.

Eliora: Some observant viewers may have noticed that the Northern Lights (or aurora borealis) are shown when Iduna sings about fears. This harks back to the first movie, at the start of which pictorial representations of Elsa’s powers and the fearsome consequences they might lead to were conjured in the form of the Northern Lights.

Rei: On that note, can we talk about how haunting “all is found” is? If we take a closer look at the song lyrics, there is foreshadowing for future events in the movie. From the first verse, “There’s a river full of memory”, “river” refers, obviously, to Ahtohallan-

Eliora: Remember that “glaciers are rivers of ice!”

Rei: -and the memories of the past containing answers to what actually happened in the Enchanted Forest.

Eliora:  The second verse ends with ‘dive down deep into her sound, but not too far or you’ll be drowned.’ This sets up Elsa’s going too deep into the past (and into the glacier), seeking answers, and proceeding to be ‘drowned’ – frozen by some powerful magic (note this is Elsa, who literally makes ice with her touch, she never gets cold.)

Rei: The song itself, and specifically the second verse, also follows Elsa as she journeys deeper into the glacier, following the ice-figure-memory of her grandfather. As she decides to jump off a cliff to follow the memories, Iduna’s voice whispers ‘Not too far or you’ll be drowned.’ To hammer home the point, dramatic brass plays the tune of that line while Elsa freezes.

Eliora: The third verse of this song starts with ‘Yes, she will sing to those who’ll hear’, a reference both to Iduna, literally singing the lullaby to her children, and a memory of her singing to Elsa later on in the movie – this is foretold in the line ‘there’s a mother full of memory’.

Rei: We must remember that the siren call from Ahtohallan was only for Elsa – Anna is not one of ‘those who’ll hear’. Now, I’m quite sure that this isn’t favouritism, only that Elsa is more similar to Iduna than Anna is, and perhaps needs their mother more than her sister does. Elsa and Iduna are both outsiders, trapped in places where they don’t belong – Iduna was prevented from ever going home because of the spirits’ curse on the Enchanted Forest, while Elsa continuously feels out of place in Arendelle.

Eliora: Back to all is found – in that scene, Iduna gets Anna to sleep quickly and then picks Elsa up and sings to her, showing that the song was meant for Elsa more than Anna. Besides the whole ice-power-killing-people thing – which hadn’t happened at the time of the flashback yet, by the way – Elsa is also more anxious and maybe socially awkward than Anna is, and I’m sure Iduna knew it.

Rei: She was definitely trying to comfort Elsa with the song, especially since Elsa seemed scared by her father’s story of the Northuldrans’ alleged attack on the Arendellians. And it must have worked, because Anna sings it to Elsa to comfort her when she is troubled later on.

Eliora:Yeah. There is another, simpler, reason why Anna doesn’t hear it – because the call represents change and unfamiliarity, and Anna hates those. More on that later!

Rei: Just one more thing on the last line of the song – ‘When all is lost, then all is found’ – Anna lost literally everything she loved – Kristoff, Elsa, Olaf in order to get the information she needed to fix the mistake her grandfather made and free the Enchanted Forest’s inhabitants. And in order to fix that mistake, she thought she would have to let Arendelle be destroyed.

Eliora: And in the end, Elsa, Olaf and Kristoff all came back to Anna as well – there’s another ‘all’ that was found.

Rei: Actually, in the deleted scenes of the movie, Arendelle was destroyed by the water and rebuilt with Northuldran aspects incorporated into the architecture.

Eliora: I kinda wish that had happened. Here’s another fun bit of info: the siren ‘aaaaaaah’ that you hear calling to Elsa is based on the Norwegian kulning – shepherding – call, and it’s done by Aurora, a Norwegian singer.

Rei: If you didn’t know, Frozen is set in Norway! Arendelle is based on a real town with a similar name!

Eliora: Back to the call, it is almost a metaphor – Iduna being the shepherd calling her sheep, that is, Elsa, home to the Enchanted Forest, where she eventually decides to stay.

Rei: And it is this siren call that kickstarts the movie’s plot, as Elsa, now settled in her position as Queen of Arendelle, begins hearing it when no one else does. 

Eliora: The second song in the movie – Some things never change – shows the contrasts between Elsa and Anna, with regards to their attitudes on change. 

Rei: Elsa can sense that things are about to change and is apprehensive, whereas Anna is in denial – emphasised as her part of the song is accompanied by visual contradictions. For example, ‘like how we get along just fine’ with people arguing in the background and ‘like an old stone wall that’ll never fall’ is accompanied by… well, a stone wall falling apart. Changes happen all around her even as she sings about how some things never change.

Eliora: Yeah. Elsa, on the other hand, talks of the call and how she’s not sure she wants things to change, yet she makes an effort to be optimistic, saying that she can’t stop time but can ‘still go out and seize this day’. 

Rei: Speaking of change, a detail you might have noticed is that Anna still knocks the same way she did as a child in Do You Want To Build A Snowman! Could this be another indication of her dislike of change and unfamiliarity?

Eliora: Perhaps! While Elsa is apprehensive of change, she acknowledges and accepts that it is inevitable and necessary. This is most evident in Into the Unknown.

Rei: In this song, she starts out speaking of her annoyance with the siren call and the impending change it foretells. She says that ‘everyone [she’s] ever loved is here within [Arendellian] walls’ and that she’s ‘afraid of what [she’s] risking’ if she follows the voice ‘Into the Unknown’. 

Eliora: Yet in the third verse she admits that she is feeling rather trapped and ‘not where she’s meant to be’, and that she wants to embrace this change and go ‘into the unknown’.

Rei: She ends the song by awakening the spirits of the Enchanted Forest. Whether intentionally or otherwise, we don’t know, but it triggers the start of a Lot of action. The spirits invade Arendelle angrily, prompting her to leave with Anna and the rest for the enchanted forest to find a way to fix it.

Eliora: Now that we’ve covered all that, let’s talk about the absolute brilliance of the casting! Some of you may have noticed that Idina (the voice actor for Elsa) and Kristen (the voice actor for Anna) have vastly different voices. Idina is showier, more impressive, does more melismas/vocal runs, while Kristen is light and airy and simple, without much embellishment. 

Rei: Idina is also a mezzo-soprano, while Kristen is a light soprano. How does this correspond to their respective characters?

Eliora: Well, obviously it makes sense for Elsa to have a ‘lower’ range, considering she’s the older sister. Her voice is also more mature, and while Idina does not sound anywhere near her age (49), she also doesn’t sound very young, not the way Kristen does (even tho she’s like 40). Also, i *think* her range is larger, which speaks of more experience/exposure. 

Rei: That’s true. While the sisters are pretty close in age, it’s obvious that Elsa is more traumatised than Anna, what with the nearly killing her sister with her powers and the constant fear that she will be found out and branded a monster. Anna is a lot more innocent and was in blissful ignorance of Elsa’s powers. She has less to worry about and is much more reckless than Elsa is – see her behaviour with Hans.

Eliora: Yep! So there’s age/maturity settled. Another thing is that, in my opinion, Anna’s singing voice and talking voice are much more similar (in terms of mood/tone as well as style) than Elsa’s. Elsa’s singing voice is usually more heartfelt and stronger than her talking voice, which is more placid and quiet. 

Rei: That makes a lot of sense. Anna wears her heart on her sleeve and is more open than her sister; she has nothing to hide. 

Eliora: Meanwhile, Elsa exudes major repressed vibes and is very private. She usually only shows her true emotion and personality through her songs, so it makes sense that her singing voice is much more impressive than her talking voice. It’s also showier than Anna’s singing voice, and the inference we can make here is that her emotions are much stronger than Anna’s, which is probably because of all the bottling it up and hiding away. 

Rei: In that same vein, you could also say that Anna’s more emotionally stable and less turbulent than Elsa is. Anna is usually more cheerful and happy-go-lucky than her sister, and you can see that in her songs/parts, which are often in a major key (see Some Things Never Change and For The First Time in Forever). 

Eliora: In contrast, Elsa has this heavy sadness about her and is more afraid and anxious. Her songs and parts are usually in a minor key when she’s expressing more negative feelings, in those same songs. In fact, Some Things Never Change is mostly in major, but modulates to minor just for Elsa’s bit (when the woodwind comes in right after Kristoff’s bit). However, her parts change somewhere along the way to major when she becomes more encouraged, as seen in ‘These days are precious, can’t let them slip away… I can’t freeze this moment but I can still go out and seize this day!’ as well as in Into the Unknown and Let It Go (the verse is minor, the chorus major).

Rei: Even when Anna is sad, like in The Next Right Thing, which is the only song she ever sings in minor, she merely uses more vibrato (which has a really nice chilling effect). While this is a little more complex than her happy songs, Kristen’s voice still retains the same straightforwardness and simplicity. 

Eliora: It’s never the same with Elsa’s voice – Elsa tends to get softer and a little more simple when she’s sad, as opposed to happy. We could say that Anna’s sadness is stronger and affects her more than her happiness, while Elsa is the other way round – her happiness is much stronger than her sadness. 

Rei: It’s almost as if Anna is used to being happy and so when she’s sad it’s less familiar to her, and so stronger because she can’t control it as well. 

Eliora: And then you have Elsa, who’s so used to being sad because she feels it so often, so when she’s happy it’s a huge deal and takes over her. Which makes sense in a straight-up depressing way. Ouch. TLDR: Kristen’s voice is happier, lighter, more simple, just like Anna’s character. Idina’s voice is more mature, more complex, and sadder, just like Elsa’s character. I really love whoever did the casting.

Rei: And we will end off with a fun fact: They did Kristoff abominably dirty- they had plans for his character that they scrapped and left nothing behind. However, we don’t have the time to discuss that today, so feel free to look it up and be enraged on his behalf!

Eliora: That’s about all we have for you today.

Rei voiceover: Look out for our next episode on Agatha Christie! Well, her works, at least.

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