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Book Review: The Art of Frozen

March 27, 2014


Released Dec. 3rd, 2013
Page count: 168 pages
Size: 11.29″ x 9.37″

The Art of Frozen
By Charles Solomon
Foreword by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee
Preface by John Lasseter

Published by Chronicle Books
Distributed by Raincoast (Canada

The Art of Frozen Book Review by Erin V.
Under the dustjacket of The Art of Frozen lies a beautiful crystal snowflake – Elsa’s snowflake. One of the features of the film that captivated me was the beautifully rendered snowscapes. I have always loved snow and ice and the beauty it creates with its intricate designs. It is clear that the artists working on Frozen were inspired too.

The opening to the book talks a bit about the evolution from Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen to Frozen. It was finally when they decided to do a version inspired by the story about two sisters that things finally meshed. As director Jennifer Lee says (pg. 11) “…There was something very interesting about the idea of one sister who has a superpower – or an affliction – and one who’s ignored because her sister’s taking up all the energy in the room.”

As the film transformed further, the artists visited Norway for inspiration of snow-filled landscapes and costume design, Quebec City to see the famous ice castle, as well as researched the clothes of the Sami people (for Kristoff). The intricacies of the development process on a film like this are what create such a beautiful finished film.

Art director Michael Giaimo was brought on to help develop the look of the film. Using the white snow as a blank canvas, each shot is filled with light and colour reflecting and being absorbed by the surfaces.

As the development of Frozen continued, one important piece was the development of Elsa. Starting as more of an antagonist, she instead became a character that was scared to admit who she was. As story artist Chris Williams mentions, (pg. 137); “….There are some pretty deep themes that come with not being able to admit who you are for fear of how people will react.” In fact, her whole look changed from a more harsh and menacing character through the development process to the poised Elsa we see on screen today. As they created some of the beautiful landscapes that Elsa created, they even made her a ‘signature snowflake’ (seen in the logo for the film and on pg. 127 of this book) which would appear on structures she created.

The Art of Frozen is more than just about the art – in some ways it tells a lot about the whole production process and the collaboration needed to bring a film of this level together. Chapter IV speaks about the fact that the film is a musical and the use of songs. And how even a good song – like a beautiful sequence – had to go if it wasn’t advancing the story forward. But when things worked, they really worked. Early on in the book (pg. 23) we read how story artist John Ripa sketched as Idina Menzel sung ‘Let It Go’ helping to capture nuances in her performance and bring Elsa to life.

With intricate details in the animation and design featuring snow and ice that led to technical challenges, and a tight deadline (according to pg. 155 they only really cracked the story in Nov. 2012, a year before its release date), Frozen is a film that like Elsa’s powers transformed from something unsure to the hit it’s become today.

With hundreds of images of artwork from the production of the film, this book is a comprehensive look at the blockbuster movie Frozen and will be sure to please those for whom the film has captured their hearts.


To find out more about The Art of Frozen, or other books, you can visit Raincoast’s website here

You can read my thoughts on the music of Frozen here.  

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