Long-time readers of this site know of our esteem for the great Walt Disney, the man who single-handedly reacquainted generations of European-Americans with their heritage and ensured that the wonder of the Old World--its castles and half-timbered villages, princes and princesses, evil queens and terrifying dragons--remained part of the cultural vocabulary of America, and indeed of the entire planet.
In particular, we have noted the timeless beauty of several Disney princesses, particularly the well-fed Katrina van Tassel
from Disney's adaptation of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,
and celebrated the visual likeness of plus-size model Kelsey Olson with Briar Rose from Sleeping Beauty.
But now, in a forthcoming animated feature, a new Disney princess will rival Washington Irving's "plump as a partridge" flirt, and even the legendary Aurora herself, for the title of fairest of them all.
As the above concept art suggests, this film will be set in a Nordic clime, and will constitute an adaptation of one of Hans Christian Andersen's most beloved fairy-tales, The Snow Queen--a project that Walt himself wished to bring to the screen. Following in the recent Disney trend of selecting more "marketable" titles for its films, however, it will not adopt the name of the original tale, but will be dubbed Frozen.
The above graphic shows the movie's official logo alongside a preliminary sketch of one of the two main characters of the feature, the one who will rival all of her Disney predecessors for the rank of the loveliest princess yet seen: Elsa, the eponymous Snow Queen herself.
Regrettably, Elsa's figure will be rendered to look extremely underweight, as all Disney princess have appeared for the past several decades. However, she otherwise exhibits every aspect of the historic ideal of timeless feminine beauty, from an exquisitely fair complexion to big, baby-blue eyes, flaxen tresses and round facial features. This is an extraordinarily bold move for Disney, flying in the face of a hostile media culture that seeks to suppress any expression of Nordic beauty--indeed, of North European heritage--and demands that it be expunged from public view.
Excitingly, even though Elsa's younger sister, Anna, is said to be the main protagonist of the film, much of the promotional material that has appeared thus far has rightly featured Elsa in a position of prominence. Note this clever cover, in which Anna and her fellow-traveller seem to be scaling a snowy hill that overlays Elsa's regal gown. Observe the aristocratic look that distinguishes Elsa's countenance, a bearing that is thrillingly vain, yet soft, gentle, and languid, with her heavily-lidded eyes. Not since Katrina van Tassel has a Disney princess been so seductively coquettish.
A third image, showing the two sisters side by side, seems to have been drawn directly from the imagination of Charlotte Brontė, like a Georgiana Reed/Jane Eyre contrast, with Anna on the right being the plainer, conventionally "good" girl, and Elsa on the left the more gorgeous sister, with her fairer complexion, lighter hair, and gossamer dress, creating an impression of a goddess who exhibits both babylike features and regal majesty. (What a pity that Elsa lacks the penchant for self-indulgence which gives Georgiana her luscious, "very plump" figure.)
Like Disney's most recent fairy-tale film about Rapunzel, Frozen will be rendered not with traditional hand-drawn animation but with CGI. Fans tend to prefer the older, manual style of drawing, but given that the animation in Tangled was reasonably attractive, we hope that this new feature will be no less visually impressive.
An early poster for the movie--featuring Elsa, of course--shows how her sketched look has been translated into computer animation. Very attractive, to be sure--though one still favours her appearance in the hand-drawn book covers seen earlier in this thread.
And speaking of Tangled, eagle-eyed viewers will immediately notice how closely Elsa's hairstyle matches that of gorgeous plus-size model Katherine Roll, in her acclaimed Rapunzel shoot of earlier this year. Could Katherine's images have been the inspiration for this hairstyle? Surely yes, for who better embodies princess-like beauty than the opulent Miss Roll?
One could drown in Elsa's childlike blue eyes, so passive and docile, so gentle and feminine. Observe that, much as Elsa's appearances blends features of Kelsey Olson, Katherine Roll, and Sophie Sheppard, she also shares one trait in common with Kailee O'Sullivan: that light spray of freckles across her snowy cheeks.
Fans who don't mind exposing themselves to a few possible spoilers might wish to visit the Disney Wikia page about Elsa, which offers some speculation about what her Frozen storyline might comprise. One plotline is certain: over the course of the film, Elsa becomes cursed with frightening wintry powers and exiles herself from her own kingdom, whereupon her younger sister embarks on a hazardous quest to redeem her sibling. The following early still from the film shows Anna looking up at her more gorgeous sister, appropriately situated high above her, on a balcony, like a goddess looking down upon a mere mortal.
A close-up of Elsa from the same frame offers the most captivating view yet of this ravishing princess, showing her with an excitingly vain look on her lovely face, her eyes heavily lidded in the consciousness of her own unsurpassable beauty, her facial features resembling those of young Disney starlet Stefanie Scott. She seems to combine the most desirable features of Disney's princesses and villainesses, both angel and temptress at once.
Alas, no English-language preview of the film has yet emerged, but a Japanese trailer appeared online just two days ago. The footage is both lovely and thrilling:
The teaser confirms what an exciting character Elsa is sure to be and offers plentiful hints of the film's likely storyline, first showing Elsa opening a balcony to survey her future kingdom . . .
. . . then being crowned queen . . .
. . . then preparing to use her terrifying, snow-magic powers.
Incidentally, early sketches showed a rather different design for Elsa's sister Anna--one in which the younger girl's resemblance to her sibling was more pronounced.
Perhaps Disney thought that having two gorgeous blondes in a single film would cause the media to explode in a paroxysm of anti-European outrage, so in the end, they gave Anna a rather plainer look.
Early Disney concept art of Elsa offers more insight into the genealogy of the character. In the top sketch, her gown resembles that of Aurora in her "blue" incarnation, while at the bottom, her facial features favour those of Kelsey Olson.
Glimpses of forthcoming Elsa dolls have also materialized online. Barbie will now have to contend with a potent rival, one with a fairer skin tone than Mattel's iconic blonde.
But oh, how one wishes that Disney would create a plus-size Elsa doll, to match the "Ciotka Kena" plus-size Barbie that appeared in Poland some years ago.
Despite the fact that her sister, Anna, is said to be the main protagonist of Frozen, most of the fan attention has thus far been focussed on Elsa. Various Tumblr accounts feature Elsa fan art, including graphics expressing sentiments such as this (the acronym "impo" means "In my personal opinion," according to the Urban Dictionary) . . .
. . . and this:
Regarding the storyline of the film, the question that has most engaged the public is, "Will Elsa be good or evil?" The Wikia page linked above lists evidence supporting both possibilities, but given the character's popularity, it would be unwise of Disney to reduce Elsa to a mere villainess who must be defeated. What would be even worse, though, is if Elsa were simply bested by her sister, in the way that the plain-Jane heroines of Charlotte Brontė and George Eliot always triumph over their vainer, blonder, more beautiful rivals.* * *
Indeed, some fans--well aware of Hollywood's resentment-driven animus against gorgeous, fair-haired vixens--already dread the possibility of this unhappy outcome, and have expressed their concerns online:
Bravo to Disney Animation for continuing the great legacy of its founder and bringing the heritage of Europeans and European-Americans to life in a way that connects with contemporary audiences, yet preserves its ageless appeal.
And kudos to Disney as well for resisting the forces of ideological resentment that dominate cultural discourse today and wish to see all physical embodiments of Nordic beauty eradicated from public view. Instead, in Elsa, Disney defiantly incarnates Classical femininity in many respects--indeed, in all ways but the one that matters most, the curvaceous female figure. The avid public response to the character, over four months before the film's debut, shows that there are many individuals of European descent with whom this image of timeless beauty deeply resonates.
(Click images to view larger.)
- Official Frozen Web site