Disney’s Frozen vs. Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen

frozen_movie_posterDisney has remade many classics fairy tales into movies. Their latest animated feature is based on Hans Christian Andersen’s story, “The Snow Queen.” Disney spun this tale into their newest movie, Frozen.


In Andersen’s version, the story focuses on the relationships between two childhood friends, Kay and Gerda. In the story, trolls send an evil mirror down to Earth and it breaks into pieces and a piece of it lands in Kay’s heart which will turn his heart into a lump of ice. A piece also lands in his eye, making him aware of all of the world’s imperfections. A few nights later when it is snowing he sees the Snow Queen but she quickly fades away. The next day the Snow Queen steals him away and Gerda goes on a search to find him. The Snow Queen is made out to be the villain and Gerda, the hero. She finds Kay blue as ice and dying. Gerda’s cries and her hot tears melt the ice in his heart and Kay begins to cry, too, and the mirror comes out of his eye. The story ends when they go home and summer begins.

Disney’s adaptation, Frozen, is a much more emotional tale. It is a story of sisters, Anna and Elsa of Arendelle. The girls were best friends as children but Elsa had a secret: she had ice powers that she could not control. Once, when playing with Anna, she accidentally struck ice into her head. Their parents rushed her to the trolls and they wiped her memory of her sister’s powers and that saved her life. Elsa was from then on, forced to keep her distance from Anna to protect her. The two became estranged and enclosed. Their parents closed the gate to their castle to shelter their children. They soon after passed away, leaving Elsa to the throne. The castle is reopened for the first time in years for Elsa’s coronation. Elsa becomes nervous and accidentally reveals her powers in front of the kingdom and sets off an eternal winter. She runs away and Anna goes to find her. She tries to convince her sister to come home and bring summer back. They begin to argue and Elsa accidentally strikes Anna in the heart with ice and only an action of true love can save her.

I personally preferred Disney’s rendition of “The Snow Queen.” The movie was heart warming and magical. It brought so much emotion into the story and gave it a depth that the original story lacked. It quickly became one of my favorite Disney movies. The animation and the soundtrack to the movie were phenomenal. The cast was flawless and the film was absolutely fantastic! I’d recommend everyone to see it!

-Sarah B., 12th grade

12 thoughts on “Disney’s Frozen vs. Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen

  1. Hmmm. I’m guessing that if the language of Hans Andersen’s tale had been updated -a little less floral and a little more accessible to you – I’m fair sure you would have felt the opposite.

    Kay and Gerda in the Hans Andersen story were friends protected by innocence. The demons who created the mirror destroyed Kay’s innocence without replacing it with the wisdom that comes with experience. He was vulnerable to the snow queen – but she didn’t target him, looking to ruin him – he was her creature from the moment that sliver of mirror got into his eye and his heart.

    Gerda suffers all the trials and tribulations of an adult trying to save him – and her faith in goodness and what Kay has in him makes her successful in her transition from childhood to adulthood. She basically takes a whirlwind tour of human nature and experience to get to him – and she is triumphant – she never loses her faith in him or in herself.. There is so much more in that than in Frozen – pretty movie, but over-simplified plot, uninspired and mediocre music, and a group of throw-away characters that are wooden at best (the snowman and the reindeer add nothing to the plot and are frankly silly and stupid.) Disney had the germ of something, here – but all they took from the snow queen was the snow, and everything else amounted to about a Christmas card’s worth of sentiment.

    I hear it took them ten years to get this one off the ground – the writers struggled with what to do with it. Really, that should have indicated to them that they should have skipped this one and moved to the type of story they are more comfortable telling. They’ve already made such a hash of so many beautifully told stories – The Jungle Book, Tarzan, The Dawn Treader and Prince Caspian, The Black Cauldron, Peter Pan,The Sword in the Stone – Gawd help us if Disney turns its greedy, jaundiced eye to writers the ilk of Oscar Wilde, E.B. White or Terry Pratchett. (They actually might shoot for one or two of the Pern series – I think they’d have the capability for that.)

    So my plea is – “Please, Disney, Please, don’t touch anything more that is important or complex or moving in a way that is profound if you haven’t got some ace-in-the-hole talent on board. Your hit-or-miss writing makes movies like Brave the exception rather than the rule. If you haven’t got a crack team on this year, cut us all a break and stick to what you know – you know, stuff like oh, say, The Gnome Mobile.”

    • I respect your opinion, but I disagree because I believe that Disney manages to incorporate profound themes in their movies but I also think it’s important to keep in mind that Disney’s target audience is children so their movies are going to be silly but that doesn’t mean they can’t have important messages in them.

    • Uninspired plot? Mediocre music? Wooden Characters? What planet are you living on? I adore both The Snow Queen and Frozen, but completely disagree with you! I get that there are differences, but Disney has done a FANTASTIC job!!

  2. In the original story, the Snow Queen is NOT evil. It’s sad that so many adaptations try to re invent her as the Villain. In fact, she is actually a Heroic figure who only takes Kai(not “Kay”, as adaptations often call him) to her Palace, to stop him from growing up as a hateful person, due to the Demonic mirror shards in his eye, and heart. She essentially freezes the growing evil within him, she could have simply killed him with a third kiss, but she saved him instead.

    She tasks him to use the ice crystals to spell “Eternity”, and despite being described as extremely clever – he can’t do it. It’s only when Gerda shows up, that the ice crystals spell the word themselves – why? Because they belong to the Snow Queen, and she planned it that way! That’s why she left to put snow in the volcanoes, so Gerda would be able to be alone with Kai, and he wouldn’t be conflicted between his fascination with her, and his true Love for Gerda.

    I like FROZEN, because it’s one of the very few adaptations that does the Snow Queen character right – Elsa isn’t a Villain, she’s just misunderstood – just like the original Snow Queen!

      • Thanks, I hope more people take the time to read the original story, and understand the title character never actually does anything evil. (Kai hitches his sled to hers by his own doing, she didn’t purposely set out to abduct him.) Too bad many are fooled by the previous movie/tv adaptations, most of which are way too dumbed down to include anything resembling complexity in their versions.

        Frozen is wonderful, towers above the rest, and in my opinion, could actually serve as a perfect prequel to the original S.Q. If Disney decides to do a “Frozen 2”, they would do well to think along those lines! (Not that I expect them to….;))))

      • They are actually planning to do a sequel to Frozen from what I’ve heard and I agree! It could serve better as a prequel

      • Actually after watching tonight’s episode I think Once Upon A Time maybe hinting towards the unanswered question “Is Elsa really the first or only of her kind? or is this actually something handed down?” to which I think The Snow Queen must be a distant relative or maybe possibly her mother? Either way will be interesting what they do after the show is done and Disney makes their sequel.

        On a personal note going back to what Ruby said, I must disagree with you. Disney may have changed here and there some plots or key points in a few stories to better fit their target audience which like it has been said children ranging in ages from 0-to about 12 years old. Could you imagine showing a young child The Grimm Brothers tale of Hansel & Gretel ? hmm maybe not, but Disney’s version is much better but that target audience.

  3. 1. There was just one demon which is called a troll or imp.
    2. The mirror does not show imperfections but reverts what is mirrored in it. If something is ugly is shown as beautiful and if something is beautiful is looks ugly. Interesting enough there is one thing that remains beautiful in the mirror despite its power. This is snow.
    3.many claimed that the snow queen tried to save Kay trough Gerda. This is not true.
    4. What is correct in the story is that the Snow Queen is not evil. To me at least she appears to be a lonely woman that cannot have children. It is heavily implied in the story that from time to time she kidnaps children which she takes to her kingdom. Problem is most do not survive for long as her kingdom is made from ice.
    5. The relationship between her and Kay is weird. She loves him as a child and if he would manage to survive into adulthood is implied she would love him as a husband. As a result she is very possessive of Kay and it is heavily implied she will try to get him back despite her promise.
    6. The greatest mistery is why she wanted to repair the broken mirror. The reason why Kay could not spell eternity was because the last two pieces were in his heart and eye.
    7. I think one of the main reasons behind Snow Queen actions is that she believes Kay can survive in her kingdom and forget about Gerda.
    8. In that respect the snow queen is very much like the old witch. She loves one of the children but it is a possessive love as they try to prevent the children from reuniting.
    9. I think this is the main theme of Andersen tale: loving something or someone but not enough to let them choose if they want to stay with you. Each minor sub story is very similar vrom the thief girl who loves the reindeer but does not want to let it go to the Snow Queen to the old witch.
    10. Oh and Gerda and Kay is implied they marry at the end of the story.

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