Like the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Anderson has a lot to answer for. He’s not directly responsible for this version of the popular fairy tale the Snow Queen but even if he were, he’d be waiting impatiently until December for the sequel to hit the cinema. A bit of digging shows that the Snow Queen has been around for a while, 2012 in it’s native Russian to be precise, but it only got an American release last year and a British release this year.
If you’ve seen the posters, you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s desperately trying to hang on the coat tails of Frozen or any number of other family films from the Little Mermaid, to Narnia and Alice in Wonderland but to do so would be a disservice to the film. Since the film was written by a Russian, originally voice acted by Russians, and based on a folk tale from Denmark, a country with strong historic ties to Russia, it’s safe to say that the film is about as un-American as you can get within the terms of modern animation. You won’t find characters bursting into song every two minutes and although there is the obligatory In fact, in places it’s quite scary and dark. Rated PG, the boy (7), said some bits were pretty scary. This from a lad who watched the Nightmare Before Christmas for the first time last week too.
There can’t be many kids films where the lead characters parents are killed pretty much before the opening credits have finished but that’s all the more credit (pun intended) to the film, which stays truer to the fairy tale origins of the story than most adaptations, even if it does introduce a pet ferret and a troll to the story- mostly to provide comic relief but also to give Gerda, the protagonist, characters to give plot exposition to. The story, in case you’re unfamiliar with it, involves Gerda and Kai, orphans living in an orphanage. Kai is kidnapped by the same evil Snow Queen that killed their parents and Gerda sets off to rescue him and free her brother.
We like our European animation in this house, having recently enjoyed A Monster in Paris amongst others, and this version of The Snow Queen is no exception. We like to sugar coat our peril a little too much for our kids now days, and this is a big step in the right direction for kids films. Don’t get me wrong; it’s not going to terrify your kids, mild peril is still mild peril but it’s different enough in the strings it pulls to make it genuinely worth a watch.
The film is currently enjoying a half term excursion at the cinema (from October 25th) and will be out on Blu-Ray, DVD and digital platforms on November 3rd. It’s worth a watch, you will be pleasantly surprised.