He finally let it go! Four years after Frozen’s release, producer Peter Del Vecho revealed the original ending for the 2013 mega-hit — the highest grossing animated film of all time — in a new interview. (Refresh your memory and watch Frozen‘s actual conclusion in the video above.)
Speaking with Entertainment Weekly for their Untold Stories issue, Del Vecho detailed the very different ideas Disney initially had in mind for ice queen Elsa and her relationship with Anna and the town of Arendelle.
“So when we started off, Anna and Elsa were not sisters. They weren’t even royal,” he told the magazine. “So Anna was not a princess. Elsa was a self-proclaimed Snow Queen, but she was a villain and pure evil — much more like the Hans Christian Andersen tale [The Snow Queen].”
According to Del Vecho, Elsa became wicked because she was previously stood up at the altar on her wedding day. She decided to freeze her own heart to safeguard herself against the pain of future heartbreak. This would have led viewers to believe that she was the frozen-hearted individual bound to destroy Arendelle, as stated in a prophecy.
“We started out with an evil female villain [Elsa] and an innocent female heroine [Anna] and the ending involved a big epic battle with snow monsters that Elsa had created as her army,” Del Vecho continued.
Amid Elsa’s snow monster war, undercover antagonist Prince Hans launches an avalanche on Arendelle, forcing Anna to convince Elsa to stop it with her ice powers. So it turns out Hans is the bad guy from the prophecy and Elsa’s heart finally thaws because of her selfless act. Aaand scene!
Well, not really. Del Vecho told EW that Disney felt something was missing from the initial concept.
“The problem was that we felt like we had seen it before. It wasn’t satisfying,” he said. “We had no emotional connection to Elsa — we didn’t care about her because she had spent the whole movie being the villain. We weren’t drawn in. The characters weren’t relatable.”
After throwing around several options, the Frozen team decided that the movie should explore the notion of love vs. fear, rather than good vs. evil. The new and improved ending — in which Elsa saves the citizens of Arendelle from a blizzard only after she accidentally freezes the heart of her sister, Anna, who ends up protecting Elsa from being killed by the morally corrupt Hans — was the product of cowriter Jennifer Lee and storyboard artist John Ripa’s brainstorming.
“When he pitched that ending to [Disney Chief Creative Officer] John Lasseter, the directors and the whole story team stood up and gave him a standing ovation,” Del Vecho told EW. “He helped crack visually how we were going to depict that ending.”
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