‘Frozen 2’: Secrets of Arendelle revealed in trailer

We learn very little about Frozen 2 after viewing the trailer other than we know it takes place 3 years after the first film, reuniting the voice talents of Idina Menzel, Kristen Bell, Josh Gad, and Jonathan Groff. Evan Rachel Wood and Sterling K. Brown have also reported roles for the sequel; Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee will direct once again.

Here’s what we’ve determined about the sisters’ upcoming journey from the eerie trailer.

The Trailer

A glimpse of the film, which appears to be the follow-up to the beautiful story of sisters defying all odds (and belting ballads), is more of a Lord of the Rings tale. A huge cast of characters from different kingdoms, choose sides in a war that will determine the future of their world. The primary protagonists (Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, Olaf, and Sven) form a band known as The Fellowship of Arendelle, which plans to fight off evils at work to save their kingdom.

Official synopsis for Frozen 2:

Why was Elsa born with magical powers? The answer is calling her and threatening her kingdom. Together with Anna, Kristoff, Olaf, and Sven, she’ll set out on a dangerous but remarkable journey. In Frozen, Elsa feared her powers were too much for the world. In Frozen 2, she must hope they are enough.

Will Frozen 2 adopt a darker, more serious tone?

Consider the tone of a film a project mood board. We can tweak it in several aspects to bring out the desired mood. If it means the question about the color aspect of the trailer, how the way it looks in terms of cinematography, whether it’s warm colors, cold colors or colorless. If your question is in calls of direction, the nature is reflected by the narrative approach a director chooses.

Photo: The Nerdy

The Frozen 2 trailer is a stark contrast from the trailer of Frozen, comparing colorful clips of a winter paradise and Olaf’s tribute to summer while Frozen 2 features Elsa on a dark coast overlooking a stormy sea, an unknown threat, Tolkien-esque stone giants, and an overall bleak color palette. Does this mean Frozen 2 will be gloomier than its proceeding film?

Frozen revolved around a sociopath trying to manipulate Anna into a mental breakdown and was seconds away from murdering her sister. A few clips of Elsa attempting to run up a violent sea doesn’t push the film into a darker environment, though it will be more action-oriented than the first film.

They also use the audio score or lack thereof to create tone.  At the start of the trailer, all we can hear is the diegetic sounds of crashing waves and lightning in the distance. Seconds later starts ‘The Great Thaw (Vuelie Reprise)’, concluding Frozen in a powerful form with its ethereal undercurrents and echoes of the film’s beginning. Now a newly voiced version seems to have a much darker feel to this new score.

Frozen 2 presents nothing terrifying within the trailer compared with the earlier film. Elsa enduring years of emotional harm, Anna freezing to death from inside out, or Hans seconds away from murdering Elsa with a strike of his sword. The bleaker emphasis is not what we were expecting, though it’s refreshing. Why was the trailer constructed in a chillier state?

This trailer gains an atmosphere of an epic quest, driving it toward a much more mature story. Frozen always had mature subtext — now it looks to be unguarded from the glimpse we see of the trailer. Films can further develop if the ideal team is behind it.

Toy Story, an innovative, fun-packed family film with strong characters and excellent writing, produces newer layers of complexity with Toy Story 3, more than the original and prequel installments making Toy Story 3 referred to as the strongest of the trilogy. Frozen 2 could be darker for a reason; they’re attempting to evolve it as an approach of furthering to develop and mature with its audience along the way.

Elsa vs The Storming Ocean

Photo: Nerdist

At the opening of the trailer, Elsa is on a dark coast facing a storming ocean barefoot. She’s viewing the ocean as an obstacle to conquer. With a fierce expression in her eyes, we hear Elsa take a sharp sigh as she draws her hair back in a ponytail and rushes towards the ocean, using her ice powers to descend the ocean.

Elsa is struggling to freeze a giant wave approaching her, but the waves overwhelm her and the ice fractures beneath her, sending her plunging deep into the waves. Now, in the trailer, an eerie version of ‘The Great Thaw (Vuelie Reprise)’ plays in the background adding to that serious tone. She must pass through it and the ocean — a wall that closes her in. Is Elsa trapped or wrecked on an island? Is she seeking to divide the sea to obtain something (more power), or struggling to return to Anna?

Many fans speculate it looks like she’s working to master her ice powers by battling the sea… but why? This reason remains unclear. What could push someone to risk death to reach another place? Love? The conditions Elsa faces mimic closely to the storm in which her parents died from at the beginning of the first film. Maybe she must cross the storming ocean to save Anna? Love is a force truly powerful — you’ll face even your greatest fears to save someone you love.

Could Elsa facing the ocean be an allegory for her dealing with the death of her parents, given the factors of their death? This event could be her indignation against her parents for not revealing the truth of her powers and keeping her hidden from her sister, etc…. if not an allegory for her parents shipwreck could she be looking for her parent’s shipwreck? Whether this event begins at the start of the film or during the second or third act, is unclear. But this event will decide how Frozen 2 unfolds and the journey these characters take.

Queen Elsa and the tide

The start of the trailer has Elsa battling the sea and evoking the rebuke of the tides by King Canute, making this event a delicate distinction:

“Canute set his throne by the seashore and commanded the incoming tide to halt and not wet his feet and robes. Yet continuing to rise as usual [the tide] dashed over his feet and legs without respect to his royal person. Then, the king leapt backwards, saying ‘Let all men know how empty the power of kings, for there is none worthy of the name, but He whom heaven, earth, and sea obey by eternal laws.’ He then hung his gold crown on a crucifix and never wore it again. ‘To the honor of God the almighty king.'”

They have changed this story of royal deference to a modern story of the a king rebuking flatterers at court. Canute was vain to the edge of mania, believing he could stop the tide until it overwhelmed him. This event touches on the source of Elsa’s popularity, but let us consider the critiques of her popularity.

It’s been impossible to evade Elsa’s critics as she is a dominating notability among modern children’s characters, including arguments over her sexual identity, her place in feminism, or much of her exposure and merchandising. Elsa’s trademark song ‘Let It Go’ is an academy award-winning, show-stopping anthem of deliverance and self-fulfillment. Many critics say it’s an overrated earworm teaching a lesson that accredits selfishness.

Elsa’s Canute moment in the trailer is a deliberate deconstruction of ‘Let It Go.’ Instead of a fearful flight across a frozen fjord, we have careful consideration and determination. Rather than the striptease and the bump-and-grind, we see the effective strip down of a professional. Instead of a diva’s power ballad, we hear one hissed, “Okay.”

As a substitute of a hero’s flawless stairway to freedom, the sea throws her down as it shatters beneath her. This achieves a fearless Elsa who is not invincible as she tests the limits. Upending an ideally beloved character is to leave the flatterers at the door, confound critics with humility, and try a stronger, more authentic narrative.

The Nøkk

The trailer introduces the influence of Scandinavian lore in the film. What could this detail mean for the story in Frozen 2?

Photo: IMDB

Official Frozen 2 synopsis further states:

Elsa encounters a Nøkk – a mythical water spirit that takes the form of a horse – who uses the power of the ocean to guard the secrets of the forest.

As we saw in the teaser trailer, a submerged Elsa tries swimming to the surface before she’s pushed under the waves. Lightning strikes and she’s confronted by an unusual blue-eyed water spirit in the form of a horse. The spirit squints at her actions, as if angry before it vanishes turning into a cloud of bubbles. This ghostly underwater horse Elsa encounters is an adept of the Neck (Nøkken), a mythic creature from many European cultures.

The Neck is a mythical shapeshifting water spirit that takes the form of a horse, though it may also appear in other forms. In Southern Scandinavian lore, they are known as Bäckahästen (the “brook horse”), and in welsh as the Ceffyl Dŵr (the “water horse”). The Neck operates deadlier in folklore, much like a siren — it plays enchanted songs on the violin, luring women and children to drown in lakes or streams.

As this fierce spirit guards the mysteries of the forest, it doesn’t let anybody pass. To gain the passage, individuals must prove their worth and earn respect by completing an insurmountable task. Will Elsa or another character perform an impossible task in the film? Perhaps this relates to why Elsa is attempting a battle with the ocean at the start of the trailer. Is this her way of proving her worth to the Nøkk? Why would she need to complete an impossible task in the first place? What does she earn from the Nøkk by doing this task? With very little information on the role the Nøkk plays in Frozen 2, we have yet to determine whether the Nøkk is seeking to save Elsa or endanger her.

Similar to the will-o’-the-wisps from Brave, could this spirit be Elsa’s guiding force to the magical elements of the film? Elsa watches a similar magical shapeshifting horse leap around as twinkling lights accompanied by illusions of new creatures, which later transform into shimmering silver leaves. This scene hints that it’s leading her to a magical portal, shown later in the trailer. Will the Nøkk’s magic lead Elsa to her unknown destiny in this film? Many tales surrounding the Nøkk are malevolent/evil – intentioned. There may be dark designs in Frozen 2 — Elsa and Anna could be facing great hardship.

Grand Pabbie’s narration

The commentary we receive from Grand Pabbie is a compelling part of the trailer, revealing questions about Elsa and Anna’s story. Let’s discuss the dialogue and visuals within Pabbie’s narration.

“Elsa, the past is not what it seems…”

This is curious because it implies Elsa and Anna’s parents had a better understanding of Elsa’s capabilities and the magic within their kingdom, yet never informing Elsa of the truth. Maybe they even lied to Pabbie about her powers. Looking back in Frozen, King Agnarr and Queen Iduna arrive at the valley of the living rocks hoping to treat Anna after Elsa strikes her by accident. Pabbie asks about Elsa’s powers, “Born with the powers or cursed?”

The king replies that she was born with them. This can stimulate subjects, such as being hereditary. Why didn’t her mother or father have powers? If they have ice powers like Elsa, it would’ve been simple for them to evade the storm by using magic. Does it skip a generation, and why? Who else in their family had/has these capabilities? This further adds to the theory that many people believe Frozen connects to Tangled, that Rapunzel is their relative, given that she possesses healing powers. Will this be integrated into Frozen 2? Talk about epic Disney crossovers!

Another question this produces: what did Pabbie mean by “cursed“? What is the distinction between cursed powers and being born with them? In addition, does this play a part with the fire elements we observe in the trailer? With fire being the contrary of ice, there could be someone able to control fire like Elsa can control ice. We see Elsa surrounded by fire and using her powers to defend herself and Olaf. Could the fire element be presenting the new villain?

Photo: The List

The visuals that progress along with Pabbie’s commentary is a flashback scene of Young Elsa looking up at her mom, who’s looking out the window at the purple Northern Lights. Elsa isn’t wearing gloves so the timeframe must be before Elsa accidentally hurt Anna.

We are informed the parents play an essential role in the film. What could that be, given the fact they are deceased? Maybe it’s Elsa and Anna dealing with the lies their parents left behind after they passed. As I discussed above, Elsa’s parents could have known more about the forces of magic than they declared. Or perhaps they are still alive? It’s an uncertain theory but one many people suggest, believing Tarzan’s parents are the parents of Anna and Elsa. I assume we will merely have them in memories as Anna and Elsa deal with what they left behind.

“…you must find the truth,…”

The images associated with this part of the commentary look like it presents a new musical number. Disney confirmed one song is called: ‘Into The Unknown’. It seems more likely we will see Anna, Kristoff, Olaf and Sven singing this after leaving Arendelle.

Elsa is watching shapeshifting magic as it evolves from a horse to multiple giants, then vanishing into shimmering leaves. We learn that the Horse is the Nøkk; maybe Grand Pabbie tells Elsa about the Nøkk and how it defends the forest so it could help her. The Nøkk guides individuals to their death but as I’ve stated before I expect it will serve as a guide and show their destinies. It would likewise make sense as to why it changed from a horse to the giants, if this is the situation. They then spiral into the bright twinkling leaves, suggesting Elsa will have to leave (leaf) if she chooses to explore the truth.

“…go north across the enchanted lands,…”

Photo: IMDB

Where is Pabbie leading them? Once all the leaves disappear, the next frame shows Elsa, Anna, Olaf, Kristoff and Sven leaving Arendelle, a magnificent mountain range with Elsa’s ice castle standing tall in the background. It’s most likely early morning because the scene where Pabbie is instructing them to discover the truth happens at night, so this likely takes place after. This is the scene that could introduce the song ‘Into The Unknown’.

Photo: Screenrant

The next place presents beautifully animated fall woods full of mist, adding to the mysterious tone. It Looks like there was previously a stream there but has dried out. This could be a reason they are leaving Arendelle. A quarrel in the magic aspects of the world is causing seasonal problems much like Elsa’s never-ending snowstorm within Frozen.

“…and into the unknown….”

When Pabbie says, “unknown”, does he know what’s out there? If he didn’t, how would he know to advise them to leave?

Photo: IMDB

In the still above, we have Anna and Olaf floating down a stream in an ice canoe. There is no trace of Elsa in the frame, so who created the ice canoe?  Using Olaf’s arm, Anna paddles downstream to what looks like a cavern. Within the next few seconds, they are dropping down a waterfall. There doesn’t seem to be any light — just a dark void that travels down to a sealed cave.  We learn from a later scene that Anna ends up in a cave alone, with no sign of Olaf. Could he withstand the fall, or did he melt in the water?

“…But be careful….”

In the next scene, we see flames hopping around from shrub to a tree in a line that instead looks like it’s being manipulated. This adds to our suspicion of there being someone who can control fire. It is unclear whether someone is controlling the fire or if it’s evil magic from the Enchanted Forest. There may be a possibility this magic is from the Nøkk but seems unlikely because of the Nøkk residing in the water element. In the background, we have new characters dressed like soldiers, establishing there must be a civilization in the forest.

Later in the same field, Elsa is kneeling on the ground, exhausted after suppressing the fire. This is another scene that had Olaf, but now he doesn’t seem to be in the next frame. Whether Olaf will survive this film is unclear. Anna on the other hand, is about to rush toward her sister, but Kristoff sweeps Anna and they ride away on Sven, leaving Elsa. Why did they leave her there? The part of the trailer they didn’t present could’ve been Kristoff riding around as he grabs Elsa too. For now, all we saw was them leaving her behind.

“…We have always feared Elsa’s powers were too much for this world…”

We recognize the trolls to be gentle creatures in Frozen, but Pabbie saying the quote above sets the question, would they have acted upon the situation if her powers were immensely powerful? I don’t think they would harm her, but maybe Pabbie could have achieved what he did to Anna, eliminating all traces of magic.

The visuals present the same scene we had at the start of the trailer, with Elsa, Anna, and Kristoff talking to Pabbie— Elsa in the same, musical number scene and is pursuing the same magic we see form to different creatures. The transformations of magic lead Elsa, leading her up a slope where numerous crystals appear all around her. They also emerge around the castle, maybe even around all of Arendelle. There are four different crystals, each of them with a distinctive design. What these symbols mean is unsettled, yet many fans believe they represent the four elements: Water, Earth, Air, Fire.

“…Now we must hope, they will be enough.”

We see Elsa, Anna, Olaf, Kristoff and Sven in desert-like surroundings. Anna and Elsa are holding hands, and in front of them, is a heavy cloud of fog. Is this the same fog within the Enchanted Forest? Could this be the doorway to the forest? As Elsa clears the fog, four large Callanish Stones appear reminiscent to the tall menhirs in Brave. Each stone has one of the four crystals we observed earlier.

Finally, Anna tells Pabbie that “she won’t let anything happen to Elsa.” Just as everything cuts black, we see Elsa hiding behind a tree. It looks to be the same location where the fire spread and Kristoff grabbed Anna. In the background, we see what Elsa is hiding from: a Tolkien-esque stone giant, the same one we saw the Nøkk transform into. She looks frightened, meaning the giant is no friendly giant. With the trailer raising more questions than answers, we can hardly wait until Frozen 2 releases on November 22 for the a detailed understanding into the story.

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