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Today in Awesome

Disney Nabs Wreck-It Ralph Co-Writer Jennifer Lee to Co-Direct Frozen

For a while now I’ve been keeping my eye on Frozen, Disney’s upcoming animated film loosely based on the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale The Snow Queen. (What was that Disney said before about not doing any more fairy tale movies? Guess they changed their minds.) It already had one director, Chris Buck, who has decades of experience in character design and animation and also co-directed Disney’s Tarzan. Now Deadline is reporting that Frozen has a second director: Wreck-It Ralph co-writer Jennifer Lee.

Lee doesn’t have any directing credits yet, but producer Peter Del Vecho gives the relative newcomer a ringing endorsement, saying:

“Jenn has a real connection to the film and creates dynamic and relatable characters. Her sense of comedy, adventure and story structure paired with Chris Buck’s vast experience and incredible instincts create an ideal situation for this film.”

So now we have a film with a female co-director, a female heroine (Anna, voiced by Kristen Bell), and a female villain, the Snow Queen (Idina Menzel). Of course, having a female villain isn’t all that weird in a Disney movie, but this villain happens to be the sister of the main character, which means we’ll probably get more in-depth character development than just “BWAHAHAHA I will kill you because you’re prettier than me and/or because you father pissed me off once and also because I’m evil!” (Plus, Idina Mendel isn’t lacking in experience playing sympathetic witches.)

Having co-directors on an animated film is by no means uncommon; feature animation is such a long process involving so many different elements that having a two directors, each of them collaborating with each other yet working on separate parts of the film, is often necessary. The pairing on this film of a highly experienced director with a quality storyteller praised for her directorial vision has definitely made me even more excited about Frozen than I was before.

(via: Deadline)

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  • Ashley Clair

    That’s really awesome news. I loved Wreck-it-Ralph and the current description of Frozen sounds awesome. I’m looking forwarding to seeing this movie next year!!

  • Sylvia Sybil

    I’m really ticked at Frozen to start with, because they’re claiming it as an adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson yet they’re adding more male characters and either deleting or downplaying some of the original female characters. There’s only one male character in the original and Disney has certainly shown their willingness to have only one FEMALE character in other movies so what’s the problem?

    That said, I thought Wreck-It Ralph had some decent (although still flawed) female representation, so hopefully Ms. Lee will be able to mitigate some of the damage here.

  • Anonymous

    Yea, I was done with Frozen when they added a strapping huntsman to be the love interest to the female lead and a goddamn talking snowman. And then completely removed the core of the story, which is that Gerda is going on this long and beautiful journey to save a boy she loves as a brother. And…and…look, the point I’m trying to make is that this has much to do with Hans Christian Anderson now as Jingle All The Way does.

    It will make plenty of money because it will be stripped of all emotional value and hopped up on stupid pop culture references because parents will take their kids to any awful 3D film anymore as long as its marketed enough. Just look at the Lorax.

  • Chanel Diaz

    “…yet they’re adding more male characters and either deleting or downplaying some of the original female characters. There’s only one male character in the original and Disney has certainly shown their willingness to have only one FEMALE character in other movies so what’s the problem?”

    Talk about Proof of adding to the Smurfette Problem (The boys will just say it’s a non-serious coincidence, though…). Are you serious?! Now I don’t think I want to see the movie because that decision, right there, is an obvious example of society’s bias against female representation.

    I said it once somewhere and I’ll say it again. YOU THINK WE HAVE ENOUGH MALE CHARACTERS? Fricken Disney (how I hate you so)!

  • Sylvia Sybil

    Yup. From the Disney Wiki, the cast includes the female lead, the female villain, a “rugged mountain man”, and two male creatures. The quest is to save the female lead from a curse.

    In the original, a little boy is cursed and kidnapped by the female villain. His best friend, a little girl, sets out to rescue him and along the way encounters some half dozen women who help or hinder her. There are a couple of background dudes, but all the people actually doing things are women.

    Apparently, Disney didn’t like it when they realized that the only significant man in the story is a Dude In Distress, so they beefed up his role, made the female lead the one who’s under the curse, cut all the other female characters (or diminished their roles so severely they don’t appear in the blurb), and added some male sidekicks.

  • Chanel Diaz


    And just when I thought Disney might trying to be Progressive. NOPE. We’re regressing back to the Dark Ages. Disney’s also okay with the ol’ Token Non-White Character, too. If only Tinkerbell and Friends were as colorful as the My Little Pony Group (Seriously, if you can make 6 different colored pony characters, what’s to stop with Humans?)….

    This Corrupting of the Original Material & Purpose of the Story, especially horrible when the Original Stories being put into the Small/Big Screen would make Progressive Strides if the Cast was Untypical, reminds me how Katniss from The Hunger Games was originally not white.

    …I Hate the World…

  • Phoenix Blackmoon

    The Snow Queen has long been my favorite fairy tale for its mix of strong female characters with goals and schemes of their own. Gerda is trying to save her best friend, and she grows in the process of meeting other women and girls. If “Frozen” is still in early production the new director can potentially bring some of those characters back into the story. I liked “Wreck-It Ralph” a great deal and appreciated its improved diversity in female characters, so my fingers are crossed that they do us a solid and reconsider their current shifting of the original plot and who needs saving.

  • Sylvia Sybil

    Considering The Snow Queen was published in 1845 and Disney’s version is less feminine-friendly, I think Disney is opposite of Progressive. =/

    And they’re even less progressive with race. See: Princess Tiana (spent most of the movie as a non-human, has to work in her happy ending when none of the White princess have had to) and Princess Sophia (She’s White! She’s Latina! She’s Latina but we won’t focus on it! She’s White again!)

  • Sylvia Sybil

    I hope so. I’m not sure how much they can deviate from the press releases they’ve already put out, but I would be very happy if Ms. Lee could steer the movie back on course.

  • Chanel Diaz

    I can see the ‘Animal’ Flaw there, but at the same time since the original princess was white, the same thing could be said if the real issue wasn’t the problem of the lack of Non-White Princesses in more Differing Roles, in General. For instance, an African (Notice, I didn’t say American.) Princess who spends the whole the Movie as Human.

    Also, I thought ALL Princesses should be working as far actually Contributing to the Politics of the Designated Country that Members of the Royal Family are apart of instead of Lounging on their Butts All Day being Served. But, of course, that gets into my ‘Queens>Princesses’ Territory and we all know Disney doesn’t know the Meaning of a Good Queen (Hasbro, a little bit, too, because Celestia’s Role as Ruler of Equestria makes more sense under the Queen Label instead of ‘Princess.’).

    See my comment on ‘Sofia The First.’

    Disney doesn’t know the meaning of, “The First.” Or Originality for that matter.

    A story that’s THAT OLD and pretty darn Feminist Sounding is so surprising to me and yet it sounds like such a Breath of Fresh Air from the typical Damsel/Smurfette In Distress that’s been overdone to death, it’s a zombie. I would rather Read the Book than Further Rot my Brain to such Uncreative Story-Telling (And I’m the kind that doesn’t Read as much as I should.).

  • Sylvia Sybil

    ” the problem is the lack of Non-White Princesses in more Differing Roles, in General”

    Oh, absolutely. If Disney had a variety of Black princesses and princesses of color, then Tiana’s characterization wouldn’t be as big of a deal. But the fact that she was their first Black princess, and is currently their only Black princess, means they’re held to a higher standard with her. “The only Black princess is the only working princess” says something about Disney’s opinions on race and who has to work in her happily-ever-after versus who deserves to kick back and relax. “The only Black princess is one of five working princesses” doesn’t mean as much.

    As always, more diverse representation is key.

    “A story that’s THAT OLD and pretty darn Feminist Sounding is so surprising to me”

    It was really surprising to me when I started reading the originals of various fairy tales and mythologies, how many of them were more equitable than the modern versions. I think Anderson’s Little Mermaid is more feminist than Disney’s Little Mermaid, as well. History hasn’t been a straight line towards progress – there have been ups and downs and in some areas we’re down right now.

  • Chanel Diaz

    Yeah, it’s like when they show a female character who’s a tomboy (I heard this kind of criticism about Merida from ‘Brave’ and Korra from ‘The Legend of Korra’), people will still think it’s still sexist unless they show non-masculinzed female characters, too. Of course, in a Action Genre, some of the closest really feminine (I don’t like to say girly-girl, to mean this) female characters who fight crime, are Sam, Alex, and Clover from ‘Totally Spies.’

    And to what you just said, without quality and diverse characters, In this world, you can’t be be too careful. So, I can see your point.

    Which, also comes hand-in-hand with Originality, so we need more Originality, Damn it!

  • Anonymous

    You are ruining your point by making false claims. Explain, please, how someone (Katnis) not ‘white’ can have a biological blonde sister?

  • Anonymous
  • Ashe P. Samuels


    I am half black and half white-black father, white mother. I look like a cross in-between, with light brown skin and soft/curly hair. My little brother is black, white and native american-biracial father, white mother. He got more of his mother’s genes, with blonde hair and blue eyes.

    Blonde hair is also not a trait exclusive to white people-ever heard of the Melanesians? They’re an indigenous group characterized by dark skin and bright blonde hair.

    Basically, race is not as clean cut as media would like to portray it, so here’s your free ticket to not sounding like a sheltered moron.