The world that the filmmakers created for Frozen and Frozen 2 is so lush that it continues to inspire more stories. It’s probably the highest compliment to a creator that other storytellers want to play in the sandbox they created. That’s the kind of world that George Lucas created with Star Wars, and that seems to be what Jennifer Lee, Chris Buck and the Frozen team have created with the land of Arendelle.
Last year, Dan Abraham and Trent Correy created the adorable animated short Once Upon a Snowman, featuring Olaf’s adventures during the events of the first Frozen film. The latest addition to the Frozen universe is Myth: A Frozen Tale, which takes a unique and stylized approach to Arendelle and tells a story focused on the magic and mysticism of the land.
Directed by Jeff Gipson, with jaw drawing art by Visual Development Artist Brittney Lee, Myth: A Frozen Tale highlights the elemental characters from the Frozen universe, and explores the balance they collectively represent in that world.
Myth: A Frozen Tale debuts on Disney+ February 26th and is a must watch for all Frozen fans! Spoilers below!
The official summary for Myth: A Frozen Tale is as follows:
In an enchanted forest outside of Arendelle, a family sits down for a bedtime story and is transported to a vibrant and mystical world where the elemental spirits (inspired by Disney’s global phenomenon, Frozen 2) come to life and the myth of their past and future is revealed.
Given that this is an animated short, the summary provides all of the necessary story information. At first, I thought the family that sits down for this story would be one previously introduced in the Frozen world, but ultimately they serve as proxies for the audience.
As the story progresses, we’re taken through the land of Arendelle with a focus on the magic in the land. We’re treated to glimpses of the various elemental spirits, including Bruni the Salamander from Frozen 2, who represents the Fire Spirit elemental. It was nice to see the adorably familiar face in Bruni, who was a welcome new addition to Frozen 2.
The film concludes as the four main elementals, water, fire, wind and earth, come together and represent balance in the land.
Myth: A Frozen Tale is a visual delight. Visual Development Artist Brittney Lee is known for her highly stylized, paper cut-out art, which translates beautifully to the screen. The film was originally created to be experienced using virtual reality technology, and Lee’s art is a perfect fit for VR. Even without the VR, the gorgeous landscapes, flowing character designs and stunning colors practically pop off the screen.
Evan Rachel Wood, who voiced Elsa and Anna’s mother Queen Iduna, narrates this film, perfectly complementing the magical nature of the story. Finally, the visuals and Wood’s narration are brought together and enhanced by the stirring score from composer Joseph Trapanese (Tron: Legacy).
It feels like director Jeff Gipson, who drew inspiration for this film from Disney classics like Fantasia, acted as a master conductor, stringing together all the various visual and auditory components to tell a truly beautiful story.
From the cold color palette of purples and blues, to Evan Rachel Wood’s sometimes haunting voiceover, Myth: A Frozen Tale leans into the mystical and somewhat dark aspects of the Frozen world. The Frozen films are already a bit darker in story than some conventional children’s films, but without the levity of characters like Olaf or Sven, this animated short felt almost too dark for children.
That’s not to say there isn’t a place for darker themes in children’s stories (indeed many of the stories we grew up on are a lot darker than we remember), but I found myself wondering who this film was intended for.
Artistically, the film is another impressive addition to the Frozen family, and I’m sure it’s even more stunning in VR. If the goal was to fully leverage new technology, then the mission should be considered a resounding success. However, when it comes to Disney Animation, and specifically with Frozen stories, I want children of all ages to enjoy them, and I’m not sure that will be the case here.
Given that this film is an animated short, it was relatively leanly staffed. Disappointingly, it doesn’t look like any person of color was a major part of developing this film. As much as my family and I love the Frozen world, diversity isn’t a strength. I hope with future projects there will be more opportunities for creators of color to play in this snow box.
RATING – 3.5/5
Ron is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of POC Culture. He is a big believer in the power and impact of pop culture and the importance of representation in media.