Frozen (2013 – Rated PG) – Animated
Jennifer Lee … (screenplay)
Hans Christian Andersen … (inspired by the story “The Snow Queen” by)
Chris Buck … (story)
Jennifer Lee … (story)
Shane Morris … (story)
Dean Wellins … (additional story)
Principle Characters and Actors who play them (voices):
Kristen Bell … Anna (voice)
Idina Menzel … Elsa (voice)
Jonathan Groff … Kristoff (voice)
Josh Gad … Olaf (voice)
Santino Fontana … Hans (voice)
From here on, everything is my analysis of the story, and none of it is necessarily what the screenwriter envisioned as the story structure. It’s simply the way I experienced the story. Of course, this is just structure. The way the actors, screenwriter, director, cinematographer, animators, etc. put the story together is what makes it appealing to the viewer. But without a well structured story, it’s all meaningless. The makers of Frozen have done a remarkable job.
Love overcomes Fear
Love overcomes a Broken Heart
The nature of true love.
To compile this list, I timed (minutes:seconds) each milestone from the beginning of the actual movie, not the beginning of the credits for the motion picture corporation who distributed it or produced it. I then divided the time by the total running time for the movie, not including the credits at the end, and multiplied by 100 to get the percentage. By this reckoning, the first plot point PP1 should be only a few percent in, PP2 at 25%, PP3 at 50%, PP4 at 75% and PP5 should occur just before the Denouement. THE END of course is at 100%.
Remember that this is only an attempt at determining how the actual story structure fits the plot pentagon of Story Alchemy, Chapter 3. It can be an estimation of how well the authors plotted the story.
For reference: Storyline Graphic from Story Alchemy:
For reference: The Plot Pentagon from Story Alchemy:
0.0% (0hr:00min:00sec) Start – Ice cutting (Little Kristoff and Little Sven the Reindeer)
2.0% (0:02:00) Anna to Elsa – Come play. We could build a snowman.
2.8% (02:30 First demonstration of magic.
3.3% (03:00) First time we meet Olof. End of SETUP
3.9% (03:30) Elsa hurts Anna. PP1 LOCK THE CONFLICT
4.4% (04:00) Parents take Anna to the Rock Trolls to get her healed.
5.0% (04:30) Rock Troll’s Theater.
6.3% (05:40) Elsa’s power will only grow. Much beauty in the magic but also real danger.
6.9% (06:15) Sisters separated.
8.6% (07:45) Elsa get gloves from parents and goes into isolation to prevent hurting anyone.
8.8% (08:00) Parents leave on sea voyage and die at sea.
10.8% (09:45) Three years later — Elsa’s Coronation Day as Queen of Arendalle,
11.3% (10:15) Grown up Kristoff and Sven.
11.7% (10:37) Duke of Weselton: Exploit the Kingdom’s riches.
15.8% (14:20) Gates Open – People come into the castle for the first time in years.
16.6% (15:00) Anna joyous, Elsa afraid.
16.8% (15:15) Anna meets Prince Hans of the Southern Isles
18.8% (17:00) Coronation – Elsa’s fear of exposing her magic – gloves off.
19.9% (18:00) The Ball – dancing. Duke of Weselton dances of Anna when Elsa refuses him.
22.6% (20:30) Anna: Why can’t it always be like this? Elsa: It just can’t.
22.9% (20:45) Han catches Anna – their courting conversation. Love is an open door.
26.5% (24:00) Anna and Hans want to get married. (true love) Elsa says, No!
27.9% (25:15) Anna: I can’t live like this any more. Elsa: Then leave.
28.2% (25:30) Anna: What are you so afraid of? Elsa throws up the ice wall. Her magic is out of control. PP2: FULLY EXPOSED CONFLICT
29.8% (27:00) Elsa starts crossing the lake with it freezing under her feet to support her.
30.2% (27:20) The fjord freezes. Anna: Tonight was my fault. I pushed Elsa. So I’m the one who needs to go after her.
31.5% (28:30) Anna: I leave Prince Hans in charge.
31.7% (28:45) Anna: Elsa is my sister. She would never hurt me. She leaves on a horse.
33.7% (30:30) Elsa: Let it go! Let it go! The cold never bothered me anyway. Sung on the way up the mountain.
34.9% (31:35) Elsa: Here I stand, and here I stay. Let the storm rage on. Sung as she builds the Ice Palace.
36.8% (33:20) Anna loses horse in snow.
37.7% (34:10) Anna wanders onto Oaken’s Trading Post and Sauna
38.3% (34:40) Kristoff enters OTPS.
42.2% (38:15) Anna hires Kristoff to take her up North Mountain.
45.6% (41:20) Kristoff’s sleigh goes up in flames.
48.1% (43:35) We meet Olaf.
53.4% (48:20) Horse returns to Arendalle without Anna. Hans goes to find Anna.
56.0% (50:40) Anna and Hans arrive at Elsa’s Ice Palace.
57.8% (52:20) Anna enters and meets Elsa. Anna: This place is beautiful. Elsa: I never knew what I was capable of. You should go. I belong here where I can be who I am without hurting anybody.
58.7% (53:10) Elsa meets Olaf. Anna: For the first time in forever, I understand.
61.6% (55:45) Elsa hurts Anna, again. PP3 CONFLICT REVERSAL
63.4% (57:25) Elsa builds a Snow Monster to chase them away. They leave.
66.3% (1:00:05) Anna’s hair starts turning white. She is freezing.
66.8% (1:00:30) Kristoff and Anna go to see the love experts, the Rock Family (trolls), so they can cure Anna.
68.5% (1:02:00) Rock Family, Trolls.
73.7% (1:06:45) Grand Pappi: Ice in your heart.
74.2% (1:07:10) “Only an act of true love can thaw a frozen heart.
74.5% (1:07:30) Back to find Hans, so he can kiss Anna and cure her of her frozen heart.
74.9% (1:07:50) Hans arrives at the Ice Palace.
75.8% (1:08:40) Queen Elsa attacks.
76.4% (1:09:10) Hans shoves the Snow Monster off the bridge.
77.5% (1:10:10) Hans stops Elsa from killing those after her.
77.6% (1:10:15) Elsa gets knocked unconscious and wakes up in prison. PP4 AGONY OF CHOICE
78.9% (1:11:25) Hans to help Elsa.
79.9% (1:12:20) Kristoff brings Anna back to Arendalle to find Hans.
80.9% (1:13:15) Anna reunited with Hans. She wants him to kiss her. Elsa broke her heart and only an act of true love can save me.
81.5% (1:13:50) Hans: No. If only there was someone out there who loves you.
82.4% (1:14:35) Hans puts out the fire in the fireplace so Anna can freeze and die.
83.4% (1:15:30) Hans tells Duke of Weselton and his people that Anna is dead.
84.3% (1:16:20) Hans tells sentences her to death for treason.
84.6% (1:16:35) Elsa escapes prison.
85.6% (1:17:30) Kristoff returns to Arendalle to save Anna.
86.4% (1:18:15) Olaf saves Anna – relights fire in fireplace
88.5% (1:20:10) Anna and Olaf go to meet Kristoff because Kristoff loves her.
89.2% (1:20:45) Elsa looks for Anna.
90.3% (1:21:45) Anna and Kristoff run toward each other as Anna continues to freeze.
90.7% (1:22:10) Anna can barely walk, hair white. Hands frozen.
92.2% (1:23:30) Hans and Elsa meet. Anna dead he tells her. Blames Elsa.
92.9% (1:24:10) Kristoff and Anna meet – almost. Anna sees Hans about to kill Elsa.
93.3% (1:24:30) Anna runs to save Elsa, sacrificing herself and she freezes solid.
93.7% (1:24:50) Elsa hugs Anna.
94.3% (1:25:25) Anna returns to life. PP5: RESOLVE THE CONFLICT
94.7% (1:25:45) Anna’s act of true love thawed her heart.
95.0% (1:26:00) Now Elsa also understands that love is the answer to her power problem, by Anna’s example. Everything thaws. Arendalle thaws.
96.5% (1:27:25) Anna punches Hands and he falls overboard.
96.9% (1:27:45) Hans goes to prison. Weselton town people evicted. Never do business with them again.
97.8% (1:28:35) Anna gives Kristoff a new sled.
98.5% (1:29:10) Anna and Kristoff kiss.
99.1% (1:29:45) Elsa creates an ice skating rink out of the public square.
99.7% (1:30:15) Elsa and Anna skate together. End of DENOUEMENT
100% (1:30:34) THE END
I have identified what I would consider the five plot points, but Frozen is a bit unusual in that it has many plot points that keep the conflict moving forward. One thing to remember is that the plot pentagon is surrounded by the circle, which is the original storyline until we added plot points.
It seems that the circle is the ideal perfect story progression, with the plot constantly escalating and progressing, the theme gradually and smoothly emerging. This would occur in the divine world. But human stories generally are more quantized, i.e., some events are more important than others and are also of greater magnitude, more profound precisely because others are less so. But when we look at the memory palace constructed of the six attached pentagons (described in Chapter 11), we can see a more elaborate distribution of plot points (PP) and corridor plot points (CPP) that perhaps more accurately depicts what’s happening in Frozen.
But PP4 doesn’t seem to have that “agony of choice” that we would expect at that point in the story. This could very well be a point of omission in the story, a flaw of an otherwise wonderful story. It could also be that not all stories have such a canned plotline. I might have even missed something. This just goes to show that the purpose of all this discussion of plot points and story structure is to help you discuss and uncover the different elements of a story and how it was put together. A story that doesn’t quite fit doesn’t means that it is flawed. All stories are unique and must satisfy their own internal requirements. However, no story is told perfectly, and comparing them to the dictates of the plot pentagon can uncover weakness, some of which are obvious in Frozen. It just goes to show you that a story doesn’t have to be perfect to capture the public’s imagination.