When Frozen II debuted in theaters in November of 2019, it was clear that Disney already had another instant classic on their hands. The follow-up to the Frozen phenomenon is a perfect exploration of the character dynamics established in the first film, carefully building themes and stories that grow and develop ideas perfectly suited for a sequel. Raising the stakes of the film’s home kingdom of Arendelle, Frozen II is an enjoyable storytelling feat and a superb showcase of great artistry. Now, with the latest addition in Disney and Chronicle Books behind-the-scenes book series The Art of Frozen II, that artistry is on a great display and it marks yet another fantastic showcase of the many talented artists who create the magic on-screen.
Frozen II is absolutely stunning, and to further develop the world of Arendelle, the artists needed to implement new ideas and new ways to convey the emotional journeys of Anna and Elsa in new environments. To create a world that was authentic as possible, the film’s core development team, which includes, but limited to, co-directors Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, went on a research trip to Norway and other surrounding areas to examine and observe how nature reacts to various obstacles. From analyzing dead trees to the movement of leaves in a windy environment, the research trips conducted by Disney animators prior to production often shape the way that a film will look and feel, in order to create an authentic experience. Portions of this book discuss the development of the feel of character in inanimate environments in the “Four Spirits” portions of the film, which include the challenge of making the ‘wind’ feel and look alive without coming across as a ‘character’, or the fear and adrenaline needed by the characteristics of fire, all new challenges to the team who had spent more time developing realistic snow on the last film.
Elsewhere and as always, a large portion of the book is dedicated to character design and costuming. Arguably, great characters are nothing without great design and the artistry behind the development of these characters shine brightly in this book, showcasing that care is always put into every decision. Each entry into Anna and Elsa’s vibrant wardrobe is developed with key ideas in mind, showcasing Elsa’s personal transformations throughout the movie and the series. Each of the core characters earns their own spotlight and showcases their personal growth and journey throughout the film, and doing so is always a wonderful new spotlight on the characters we’ve grown to love between both these movies.
Perhaps the most intriguing part about going ‘behind-the-scenes’ of a film is not finding out how the film was made, but it is also finding out what almost got made, and to wonder what could have been. The book touches upon an early draft of the final act of the film which would have seen a slightly darker, yet more impactful ending for the people of Arendelle and Northuldra, and it is a wonder as to why this far more compelling ending never made it to the screen. However, instead of lamenting on the once-imagined story, we have an opportunity to glimpse into the artistry that was the development of this alternate film. Provided with sketches of these ideas and characters make for an exciting and insightful look into the many ideas that are created within the halls of Walt Disney Animation Studios. At Disney, it is true that good ideas never die, and with this book, that is a great example of the craft that will continue to be an inspiration to other artists around the world for a long time to come.
Whether you’re a fan of animation, Disney or of the Frozen franchise itself, Chronicle Books delivered another truly spectacular must-needed addition to the long list of The Art of… series of books. Frozen II is a wonderful film created by an incredible team of talented writers and artists and this new book is a showcase of the masterful work and the village it takes to create a film as meaningful and powerful as Frozen and Frozen II.