Click here to read my thoughts on Frozen.
You know how we all end up with random childhood memories? Well, one of mine was from a video my second grade class watched. I always thought it had to do with a museum and that the story was part of mythology or something like that. The camera showed spiky ice, and the narrator described something about a child's heart being pierced by ice. Very random. But after watching Frozen, I wondered if this video might have been describing something from the Hans Christian Anderson tale, "The Snow Queen," on which the movie was partially based.
Frozen had no more similarity to "The Snow Queen" than The Little Mermaid had to its own Anderson story. But that's beside the point: the interesting thing is to see what the Frozen team did keep from the old tale. I had to pick up my Hans Christian Anderson volume since I had no memory of reading "The Snow Queen."
While the story begins with a mirror, there is no mirror in the movie--unless you count the theme of personal image that exists within both sisters' journeys. The story has a boy and a girl as main characters instead of two sisters; one of these sisters is the Snow Queen herself, instead of having her as a separate character. What's notable about this is what I think of as the Harry Potter or X-Men effect: the instance of having something within yourself that you can either use for good or for ill. Usually it's something that general society doesn't look well on. This very modern theme is one of the reasons I called Frozen a modern fairy tale. They didn't make the Snow Queen a force of nature or a witch or anything like that: she's a person, who happens to be able to shoot ice from her palms.
Let's just skip over the flower garden portion of Anderson's tale, shall we?
The prince and the princess find their way, vaguely, into the movie in the form of Anna's quest to find love. Sadly, I don't remember any crows in the movie, although there was one very cute reindeer. In place of the robbers I suppose you might say stands Kristoff--he adds a similar rustic quality. And there's a good amount of traveling in both movie and story, though not of like distances.
Obviously, the main similarity is the ice freezing someone's heart. In the story it's a child, Kay, and his innocence is a central element. While Anna is no longer quite a child, she is young and still carries a certain purity about her. It's this purity that allows her to be fooled into false love. The melting of the ice also happens very similarly. It's done in both cases by a female character--with no romance involved. (We might assume that Kay and Gerda will fall in love as adults, but throughout the body of the story we're told they're children.) Gerda the friend and Elsa the sister melt the ice through sorrow, born of love, over their dear one's pain. Naturally, Anderson pushes the purity side of love more than the movie does, but still love stands at the center.