Fans of all things Frozen should probably have a hop onto Disney+ this week for something kind of cool. There was a lot of mythology in Frozen 2, and Disney hasn't been shy about looking into different corners of the Frozen universe to help expand what we know about this world. The shorts that are premiering on Disney+ is the perfect place to do that but Myth: A Frozen Tale isn't quite the same as the other shorts. This one was originally built for a VR engine as we learn about the elemental spirits of Arrendale through a story being told to children. We listen to the lovely Evan Rachel Wood narrate this story that looks like something from a pop-up look you might see kids reading while also drawing inspiration from some Disney classics.
"And I also wanted to draw from the history of Disney Animation and this rich heritage," said director Jeff Gipson in a virtual press conference. "This traditional animation is tied to the music it's animated to. Looking at films like "Fantasia," the pink elephant's sequence (in "Dumbo"), "Make Mine Music," "Peter and the Wolf." I just loved how the animation was married to that music. It almost moves exactly with that music."
The score, which is what we listen to as we watch the elemental spirits get their story told, is a beautiful one that Gipson was glad to have part of his film. "Talking about the score, Joseph Trapanese, our amazing composer, but it was so great working with Joe he really jumped on board early and was creating pieces that our animators were animating to," he said. "I wanted each element to have their own score, and Joe really leaned into that looking at "Peter and the Wolf" and all those inspirations we mentioned earlier. It was just such a pleasure working with Joe, and so happy to have him on board."
Production designer Brittney Lee was specifically brought onto this project because of her almost minimalist art style that really channels the amazing Mary Blair, whom Lee refers to as her personal hero. "Mary Blair is one of my personal heroes and a huge inspiration. I think, more so in color. The shape language was definitely more based on Eyvind Earle, the long, elegant, and etherealness of that. But colorwise pushing into less realism or fantasy? Absolutely Mary Blair."
For those familiar with VR storytelling, the camera movements are there and sometimes even can give the audience a bit of vertigo even though they are not standing still. However, there isn't anything really lost in translation when it comes to coming from VR to streaming. The VR effect is very good for telling stories that make you feel like you are immersed in the story, which Lee specifically said was the idea. However, it was not an interactive VR story like we've seen from other studios. It was a stand and look around while the story is being told around you. Fortunately, not much seems to be lost in translation, which does seem to be the intended effect, but as someone who is a fan of VR when they don't give me vertigo and migraines, I wish I could have seen it the way it was intended. Fans of Frozen will enjoy the stunning visuals and the look into this world that Disney continues to explore.