Hello, readers. Rii’s husband here again. Today I want to talk a little bit about Frozen. Specifically, I want to talk about one song in particular: Do You Want to Build a Snowman?
There’s a lot of things that disappointed me about Frozen, but even when I first watched and especially now when I’m looking back, this song really bothers me. It bothers me because there is so much wasted potential. This song could have been a gorgeous moment but it was ruined by a desire to make sure it was pretty. Let me explain.
Put yourself in Anna’s shoes. Here is a girl who used to be best friends with her sister until one day, out of nowhere, she cloisters herself inside her room and never plays with you any more. This alone would be heartbreaking. In essence, Anna lost her sister that day. Then she loses her parents at sea. This leaves her effectively devoid of family, as she lost Elsa a long time ago. She has lost everyone she knows and loves. And if you listen to the words sung, she is desperately pleading for her sister to come back to her, to give her someone to hold onto, to regain even a tiny bit of the family that has twice now been riven from her cruelly and without any explanation or reason given. That is the story her words paint.
Rii is interrupting this moment to make a joke: huh huh he said “cloister”*
That is not, however, the story her voice paints. Sure there is a bit of sadness there, but for a girl bereft of her entire family, it doesn’t even come close to appropriate. It totally jerked me out of the story. They were so concerned with making sure the song sounded pretty that they missed the opportunity for the real emotion that could have made it gorgeous.
Imagine if Anna’s voice had cracked during that segment of the song. Imagine if her tears and sobbing had interrupted the cadence, putting her off rhythm ever so slightly. Imagine if it had actually been sung as if from a girl who was now entirely alone and had no idea what to do or where to turn. The amount of ethos that could have been packed into even just the first line of “I know you’re in there…” is overwhelming. It brings me to tears every time I think about it. This one simple change, sacrificing the beauty of the song for real emotion could have made me connect with Anna in a real human way. It would have made the moment breathtaking. Instead, I got a pretty song that pulled me out of the narrative and a moment that would be entirely forgettable if it didn’t make me so upset with its wasted potential.
I can’t just let it go. What? You can’t do a Frozen post without making a Frozen joke.
This is advice that is much easier to apply to film than to writing, but I think it can carry over there as well. A lot of inexperienced writers (myself included) are so wrapped up in ensuring eloquent prose that we completely ruin the feeling of the scene. Sometimes something really does just need to be described as large instead of titanic. Sometimes we do need short, choppy, terse sentences. Sometimes we need to use the same word over and over and over again.
Consider how your word choice, sentence structure, and pacing affect the emotions of a scene. And remember that sometimes you have to sacrifice beautiful writing for gorgeous scenes and stories.
*See I went ahead and interrupted my husband’s post to make a pokemon joke (if you don’t get it, that pokemon is called a cloyster) and it was totally inappropriate. If this had been a post about anything else other than inappropriate timing, I wouldn’t have done it. Really – the thing about sacrificing beauty is it’s another mention of kill your darlings. Kill them to make the narrative better. The song and its prettiness is a Disney darling because Disney songs are known for…well, being Disney songs! It’s a darling. They should have killed it for the narrative.
Also imo don’t use the same word over and over again unless in dialog or you’re absolutely positive you know what you’re doing.