perjantai 23. syyskuuta 2016

Frozen


I spent my summer back at home in Finland and watched lots of Disney animations. I also re-watched Frozen so here are some of my thoughts on this animation that has become world wide phenomena.

Frozen is Disney animated film released in 2013. It is Disney animated classic number 53.

I bet everyone is familiar with the plot. In the Kingdom of Arendelle princess Elsa has magical gift to create snow and ice. One day she is playing with her little sister Anna and Anna gets into an accident. Elsa gets scared of her powers that caused this. Parents take them to see the troll shaman, who tells Elsa to be careful with her gift. He erases Anna's memory so that she wont remember her sister having powers. 

In the next chapter parents drown at sea and Elsa is going to become new queen of Arendelle. Sisters haven't been in close terms since childhood. Anna still misses her sister.

During the coronation Anna meets Hans prince of the Southern Islands and develops a crush on him. After few songs couple is planning to get married. Of course Elsa doesn't wish her sister to marry a man she has only known for few hours. Sisters are having an argument and Elsa's powers are revealed. This is specially noticed by duke of Weselton who already has his mind on overtaking Arendelle. Elsa runs away to the mountains and leaves her sister and people of Arendelle to everlasting winter.

Anna wont give up. She leaves prince Hans in charge and goes after her sister. He meets Kristoff Ice deliverer. With his reindeer Sven he decides to help Anna with her quest of find Elsa. They reach Elsa's ice palace where they meet Snowman Olaf who Elsa created as a child. Olaf joins the group. Anna meets Elsa in the palace. Sister seems liberated but she does not wish to return to Arendelle. Kristoff takes Anna to meet the troll Shaman. Maybe he could help them to get Elsa back. Only goal for trolls seems to fix Anna to marry Kristoff. Suddenly Anna's faints. Fights with her sister are finally turning her heart to cold.



Kristoff, Olaf and Sven take Anna back to the palace to prince Hans. Hans turns out to be the bad guy and tells Anna that only reason he wanted to marry her is that in his home country he doesn't have any chances for the throne. Anna becomes very upset. Olaf helps her to understand that is really Kristoff who truly loves her. When Anna hears that Hans is planning to kill Elsa she decides to stop him.

In the last battle Hans makes Elsa to believe that Anna is dead. In the snowstorm Hans tries to kill Elsa when Anna runs between them and turns into ice. Elsa cries and hugs her sister and Anna melts back to human. Elsa finally understands that she can be all queen, sister and use her powers freely. She turns summer back to Arendelle and creates little snow cloud for Olaf. Duke of Weselton and prince Hans are both sent back to their home lands. Kristoff becomes official ice deliverer and his relationship with Anna also becomes official. Movie ends to a skating scene where characters enjoy each others company.


Elsa and Anna

Several Disney-fans and non-Disney-fans have tried to explain how come Frozen is so damn popular. Movie came to the theaters in 2013 and it is as popular as ever. I personally believe that it is because there is two very different princesses in the movie and viewer can identify themselves to either one. They can choose to be in the Elsa-camp or Anna-camp. I'm definitely in the Elsa-camp myself. 21-year old Elsa is the "oldest" Disney princess. Anna is 18. Elsa is in many ways more mature than Anna but she is also slightly melancholic and introverted. Especially in the beginning of the movie Anna is very naive. Kristoff asks the question that viewers are wondering "why the heck you wish to marry a guy you just met!"

I've been thinking a lot about sister's situation. In the song "For the first time in forever" Anna happily sings how they are going to open the gate and for the first time she is going to meet new people. She also sings about meeting man of her dreams. Anna has been living very protected life. Parents have passed away, sister pretty much lives in her own world. Servants are servants not her real friends. Anna however is an optimist and believes that by becoming a queen Elsa also becomes more social. If I compare the life of Anna and Elsa to the life of royal families in Europe. The heirs to the crown always have huge amount of pressure on them while other siblings can live their lives more care free. I bet many as a child has dreamed about meeting prince (or princess) of our dreams. Anna who has lived very isolated from the rest of the world still believes in this at the age of 18.

Anna's care for her sister is endearing and she can not understand why Elsa is shutting her out from her life. Elsa believes that by isolating herself she protects her sister but secret almost breaks up their relationship. Elsa also takes care of Anna and her well being and understands that Anna can not marry a guy who she just met. 


Kristoff, Olaf and Sven

I have always liked the character of Kristoff. I think I read from Disney Wiki that Kristoff is Norwegian-Sami. What it comes to his reindeer-leather/fur clothes this makes sense. Those of you who don't know the Sami people are native people of Lapland. One thing that puzzles me is that Kristoff is a blonde and usually Sami people have quite dark hair but then again I'm a Finn with Sami ancestry and I have blonde hair so of course it's possible. Kristoff is probably Norwegian Sami orphan since he was raised by trolls. 

Sven however is a character who I have mixed up feelings. I've been recently doing lots of research on Sami people, culture and reindeer herding (because I'm cool that way).

Before Sami lifestyle became more intertwined with reindeer meat industry Sami people kept wild reindeers as their pets. However in 19th century Norway Sami lifestyle was more around reindeer meat industry. 

Kristoff however is not reindeer herder but an ice deliverer so he can have a reindeer sidekick.

My problem with Sven is that there is more doggy features than reindeer features. In away character is a copy of Maximus from Tangled where horse was more a sniffer dog than a cavalry horse. I think more reindeerish Sven would have been more authentic and I must add one can not really ride with reindeer's. I'm from northern Finland and always enjoy seeing reindeer's.


In the beginning I was quite annoyed by the character of Olaf. I believe he was added to the film for the child viewers (and of course kids are the primal audience for Disney films). For me Olaf felt bit too childish (I'm Olaf I love warm hugs!) so my inner cynic was against. Now I'm bit more softer and believe that film needs Olaf to balance Elsa's inner struggles and Anna's dreamy personality.


Arendelle

Frozen takes place in Arendelle, country that was loosely inspired by Norway and Norwegian culture. Film settings and clothes were also inspired by Norway in the beginning of 19th century. I read from Disney Wiki that Anna's and Elsa's parents are called King Agnarr and Queen Iduna. Frozen takes place in July 1839. Arendelle's symbol is the Crocus flower and colors are green and purple. You can see the color scheme in Anna's outfits also in Elsa's outfits in the coronation. Otherwise Elsa's outfits portray her belonging to the world of winter and snow. 
Norway is a country with long troll-tradition and I think it's just awesome that there are trolls in Frozen. Only thing that I didn't enjoy that much was the song of the trolls (Fixer Upper) that was more a broadway musical song and not that close to music that in Norway has been more connected to trolls like drums and folk instruments. 



Songs and voice overs

When I first moved to Wales and went to Tesco to buy Christmas gifts there was Frozen songs playing non-stop. I wish they would play non-stop in Finnish shopping centers as well! haha! There is bloody many songs in Frozen, even for a Disney musical there's so many songs. 

My personal favorites are "Frozen heart" and "Let it go". Last time while travelling in way north Finland and I saw reindeer's I had to sing "Reindeer's are better than people" lol

Since I'm Finnish I usually prefer the Finnish voice overs and usually voice overs are done with great care for animations in Finland. Unfortunately at least what it comes to recent Finnish voice overs from the past 10 years they've gone really bad. That is why I prefer to watch Frozen in English than Finnish. I've only watched the Finnish version once and after that stick with the English version. Saara Aalto did the Finnish voice of Anna but her voice is just too high pitch to my ear so I prefer Kristen Bell. I'm quite careful with voices since I'm highly sensitive and find too high noises very distressing. But Finnish voice of Kristoff was even worse. Axl Smith who is Finnish  media persona did voice of Kristoff and he spoke with very heavy Helsinki-accent. I personally speak with heavy Oulu accent but to be fairy when it is an animation I wish that characters would speak in common language and with accent as long as it fits for the character. Especially according to Disney Kristoff is northern Sami it would have been cool if in Finnish version his voice would have been someone who speaks with northern Finnsih/ Lapland accent. 

Unfortunately in Finland there has been this very unfortunate trend within past years to hire the most biggest celebrities/famous people of that moment to do voice overs to animations. When there's great amount wonderful trained voice actors. I don't really get it..

I do like Katja Sirkiä who is the Finnish voice of Elsa. She is trained voice actress and does fabulous job. I do like listen "Taakse jää" (Let it go in Finnish) in Finnish. Otherwise I think English voice over is way better on Frozen than Finnish. That's my personal preference. 



Snowqueen

I like to research stories which animations are based. Last year I took part on online course about Hans Christian Andersen that was organized by the university of Odense. One of the assigments was to compare Andersen's little Mermaid and Disney's little mermaid. You can read my thoughts about it here. 

We also went through Andersen's other famous fairy tale "the Snow Queen". Frozen is loosely based on the Snow Queen. Walt Disney himself was planning to make an animation from this famous fairy tale but other projects kept him occupied. In it's early design process Frozen was much more closer to Andersen's fairy tale. 

For those of you who haven't read Andersen's story. It is very episodic and tells about two children Gerda and Kay. As I recall story doesn't mention where they live. I assume that in a city in Norway or in Denmark. Gerda and Kay weren't sister and brother but loved each others like sister and brother. Like many Andersen's fairy tale Snow Queen has Christian elements. Fairy tale begins when a mirror made by the devil gets broken. Piece of the shattered glass gets inside Kay's eye. This is noticed by the wicked Snow Queen and she kidnaps Kay to herself.

Gerda travels to Lapland to Snow Queen's kingdom to find Kay. Little thief girl (perhaps she is a Sami) is helping her with her reindeer and two crows. One of the shattered glass pieces reaches Kay's heart and makes him "Frozen". Gerda still manages to save Kay before it's too late and destroys the evil Snow Queen.

In the end the plot for Frozen was completely re-written, maybe that is better because original story is quite complex and episodic. Gerda and Kay were turned into two sisters. Anna's relentless nature reminds Gerda's persistence to save Kay. In away Anna reminds Kay when her heart get's cold after fighting with Elsa. No way Elsa is evil Snow Queen, even though according to the duke of Weselton and inhabitants of Arendelle that is exactly what she is. This is a great reference to the past of human mind and how easy it was to label someone as a witch. Just the fact that Elsa chooses to live alone in a far away cold palace isolated from the rest of the world feeds this idealism where powerful woman who chooses to live alone is dangerous.


The way Snow Queen wants to adopt little boy to herself has little bit resemblance to Elsa's grief and sadness for that she feels need to isolate herself from her family and the rest of the world. I believe one major reason for Frozen's insane popularity is the sibling relationship. This is also one of the reasons that made Andersen's fairy tale very popular. There isn't romance in Snow Queen. There is romance of Anna and Kristoff in Frozen. Still main focus in Frozen is the relationship of the two sisters. Disney has several films about sibling relationships like "My brother bear" and my personal favorite "Lilo and Stitch". Also in Frozen both of the main characters are very multidimensional. 

Overall the world of Frozen portraits mindset of 2013 more than beginning of the 19th century. I give solid three and half stars to Frozen. Some trivia to the end. In 2014 Frozen won an oscar for the best animated feature and Let it Go was the best song. Frozen sequel is currently in the making before that we can all sing "Let it go! Let it go! I can't hold it back anymore!

torstai 1. syyskuuta 2016

Disney's Recess and democracy of the school yard part 2

In my previous blog post I wrote about T.J's gang. This blog post is about colorful side-characters of Disney's recess and delicate way series portrays different types of political systems and societies. This is one of the reasons why Disney's recess is one of the most successful Disney animated cartoon series of all time.

Series tells about T.J.Detweiler and his gang. You can read my thoughts about T.J's gang and democracy of the school yard here http://fairychamber.blogspot.fi/2016/08/disneys-recess-and-democracy-in-school.html



There is many different types of political systems in Disney's recess. Biggest authority of the school yard is principal Prickly who's wishes for promotion and sucking the school board of course heavily influence lives of students. Among teachers however principal Prickly doesn't seem to have any particular authority position. Neither teachers don't seem to have particular clicks.


One episode T.J and his gang go to search for legendary teacher's common room. All they find is a tiny room with broken bending machine. However this is just a frame. Behind the wall there is real common room with saunas, swimming pools and restaurants.


Psychologically hidden common room could refer the difference between childhood and adulthood.

Teachers political system is also democracy.



Principal Prickly

Principal Prickly is the biggest authority in the Third Street School. Sometimes he can be very egoistic and gets tired to solve problems in the school yard and sometimes he is very playful and enjoys his work. Principal Prickly's and TJ's relationship is no way constant competition created by hate or any such things mostly it's just having mutual understanding of each other's characters. Many episodes there have been hints that as a child Principal Prickly was very much like T.J. Like T.J. Principal Prickly is also big fan of Senor Fusio comics.




Miss Grotke

Miss Grotke is teacher of the forth graders. She is tall, skinny, Indian-American. She has big round eye-glasses, blue jewelry, green long dress and big black hair. Kids adore miss Grotke and she is very found of her students as well. Miss Grotke is eccentric compared to many other teachers in the Third Street School. She is also a hippie and believes to the healing energies of the earth. She also loves yoga and meditation. In the Film Recess: School's out turns out that Miss Grotke is also master of Kung Fu and this impresses Muriel Finster.



Miss Finster

Miss Muriel P. Finster is an old-school teacher. She is both tutor and recess guardian in the Third Street School and majority of the students are afraid of her. She believes in order and discipline. Muriel's assistant in forth grader Randal.J.Weems. Randal thinks Miss Finster is his best (and only) friend. In the movie Resess:School's out we shall meet young Muriel who dated Dr. Phillium Benedict who was the major antagonist in the film. In the 60's Benedict and Prickly were best friends.

According to Disney Wiki Finster is one year younger than Prickly. In the series there are lot's of hints that Miss Finster has love interest for school's caretaker Hank.

By the way Finster comes from a German word that means malificent also it is close to English word spinster. 


For students Prickly, Grotke and Finster represent different kinds of authorities.




King Bob

There is also monarchy represented in the Third Street School. King Bob rules the school yard. King Robert "Bob" is demanding and selfish still students find him most of the time very fair ruler. King Bob always wears his crown/hockey helmet, hockey shirt with number 8 on it, red cape and hockey stick. He also has wonderful unibrow.



Ashley's 


Ashley's are the Fashion click of the Third Street School and also the four most popular students. They are all snobs, spoiled and they are all Ashley's. Each one has little sister called Brittany and little brother called Tyler. Leader of the click is Ashley A. Her full name is Ashley Armbruster. Other Ashley's are Ashley Boulet (Ashley B), Ashley Quinlan (Ashley A) and Ashley Tommossian (Ashley T). Ashley's only accept other Ashley's to be part of their click. When they found out that Spinelli's full name was Ashley Spinelli they felt it was their duty to have Spinelli in their click. Spinelli how ever found her way out. Ashley's have several dressing codes. One of these is the purple day. To remember the day they first met and started their click all Ashley's wear purple. Ashley's represent oligarchy..power of a small group.









Kindergarten


Kids in the Kindergarten represent anarchy. Complete chaos and total lack of control. Kindergarden is right next to Third Street School and is known as the place of no going back...

Kids in the kindergarten have returned to their natural state unlike kids in Third Street School which is an elementary school.


Kindergarten kids have war paint on their face and stones and sticks as their weapons. One might see them representing different primitive tribes but they actually lack all social hierarchies of those people.


Psychologically thinking when kids are in their natural state does school changes them too much. Is going to elementary school just one more stop before adulthood?


Americana


Elementary school I went was Finnish but I think all these kids, students, whole Third Street School and these events could take place anywhere in the world because children and teacher are pretty much the same everywhere. However there is one thing I know for shore that Third Street School is somewhere in the USA that is the huge  amount of science fiction elements and references to the popular culture. One of my favorites is off-recess theme that series handles a lot also the film Recess: School's out. In one episode Minister of education and President of the United States together decide to remove recess to get better test results. Of course Third Street School is the first school where they test this project and get very alarming results.




T.J.s great love for Senor Fusio depicts love that american kids have for super hero's. There are also some horror-episodes in recess especially around Halloween. Bicycles become alive. Chip girl turns into a werewolf-chip-girl. Finster has zombie-Finster relatives. I really like the way series is about kids socializing. What does it mean to have group of friends? do you need a best friend? can teacher be your friend? Mikey is called as "big-kid" and he sees a dream where he is a giant. Vince says that in his dreams he would be an intergalactic basket ball player. Even if you are already in elementary school it doesn't mean you need to stop dreaming. All this is told with great deal of humor.






If you haven't watched Disney's recess yet I highly recommend it! one of the best Disney animated series ever made. Thank you Paul and Joe!


tiistai 9. elokuuta 2016

Disney's recess and democracy in the school yard

                              

Disney's recess is animated tv-series made by Walt Disney Television Studios. Recess is created by animation screen writers Paul Germain and Joe Ansolabehere. Series ran in the ABC channel in USA from 1997 till 2001. Series has shown as rerun in Disney Channel several times. First time between 2001-2006. 

First time I watched Recess was from Finland's Disney Channel and it's one of my favorite Disney animated series's. We even have them recorded to old VCR tapes.  

Overall Disney's recess is one of the most popular animations from Disney studios. One of the biggest reasons to show's popularity is the way it portraits different layers of society in a regular school yard.



                                           
                                                                       

T.J. Detweiler

T.J is the leader of the main six in the show and has been best friends with them since kindergarten (except Gus who moved to town in the first episode). T.J. is kindhearted, friendly, accepting, open minded, outgoing and he takes having fun very seriously. T.J. gets along pretty much with every one. In the episode "Best Friend". He wrote and essay about his six best friends. Everyone in the school likes T.J. so much that even when he gets into troubles people still like him. T.J. and his gang are famous for their ability to influence everything that is going on in the school yard. Often he ends up making speeches where he pledges his school mates to stick together. T.J. always takes the side of the underdog making him a true democrat. 

T.J.´s nickname comes from his full name Theodore Jasper. Originally T.J´s name was supposed to be P.J. after the creators of the show. For whatever reason they decided to change name to T.J. It is believed that T.J. was named after USA's 26th president Theodore Roosevelt. According to Paul Germain and Joe Ansolabehere T.J.´s described to be "a funny looking guy with lot of charisma". T.J. has freckled cheeks, light brown hair and red baseball hat facing backwards. He is seen without the hat only in few episodes. He is wearing white t-shirt, green jacket and baggy jeans. T.J,´s wardrobe portrays his relaxed nature.

T.J. comes from a normal family. He has mom Jan Detweiler, Dad Dan Detweiler and big sister Becky who works in a local Floppy Burger. His parent pop in few episodes and in the movie Disney's Recess School's out. 

Finnish actor Jon Jon Geitel is T.J.'s voice in the Finnish voice over Recess (I personally think it's one of his best roles).



Gretchen Grundler

Gretchen is the smartest kid in school. Probably in the whole town! Gretchen in a friendly girl. She is leader-type and is almost a mother-like character in T.J's gang occasionally.

Gretchen and Spinelli are the only girl in T.J.´s gang and they get along very well. Gretchen is also close with Vince. They are both very competitive. Sometimes Gretchen also gets into fights with T.J. but this is probably because both have large egos.

Gretchen is tall, skinny and she has beautiful face. Freckles in her face (or are they pimples?) Large eye-glasses. Brown hair in two pigtails and pretty large front teeth. Blue-white dress with a pink bow in the middle and pink socks. Gretchen´s parents aren't shown in the series  but they are told to be very smart people as well. Gretchen¨s "sidekick" is her small computer Galileo.



Ashley "Spinelli" Spinelli

Ashley is the toughest kid in school. This Italian-American girl loves wrestling and is not afraid to speak up her mind. In T.J.´s gang Spinelli is the most aggressive member. Fortunately her friends keep her in the right track.

Spinelli is short. She has small now, almond-shaped eyes, short black hair in two pigtails. Pretty much in every episode she is wearing her orange beanie, black leather jacket and army boots.

Spinelli´s dad is Bob and her mom is Flo. Spinelli often is ashamed her parents since they always manage to embarrass her. She however seems to have good relationship with her mom and dad. Especially with her dad with whom she watches wrestling together. Spinelli is told to  have big brother Joey but he isn't never seen in the show. Flo's american voice is wonderful Katey Sagal who is also Leela's voice in Futurama.

Spinelli's first name is Ashley but she doesn't use her first name because school's four popular girls are formed from four Ashleys and Spinelli absolutely despise them. In T.J.´s gang Spinelli's complete opposite is pacifist Mikey. However Mikey and Spinelli are very good friends.

In few episodes there are hints of possible romance between T.J. and Spinelli. In several episodes T.J. puts her other hand to Spinelli's shoulder. This could be a hint of a possible romance or T.J. just wishes to calm down his fiery friend who likes fighting.




Mikey Blumberg

In T.J.´s gang Mikey is the peace maker and very sensitive and forgiving young man. Other students often assume that Mikey is a big bully because of his size. This isn't true and Mikey is very calm peaceful pacifist. Mikey writes poems and his dream profession would be a modern day bard. Mikey also has wonderful singing voice and he is also a talented dancer.

Mikey is tall, thick and he has blonde hair. He wears white t-shirt and brown trousers. Like T.J Mikey's clothes represent his relaxed attitude towards life.

Mikey gets along very well with T.J. He admired Vince because he is so popular. However in the gang Gus probably Mikey's best friend. Like T.J. Mikey always defends those who can't defend themselves. Mikey is also good friend with Spinelli.





Vince LaSalle

Vincent "Vince" LaSalle is very athletic and basket ball is his passion. In T.J.´s gang Vince is T.J.´s best friend. In some episodes T.J. refers Vince as his "right hand",

Vince is black, he always wears gray t-shirt, green basket ball shirt with yellow number 1 on it, gray shorts and sneakers. Vince is very competitive (maybe that's why he has number 1 in his shirt). Vince is friendly, he has sarcastic sense of humor. In school Vince has reputation as "nice cool kid".

Vince has big brother Chad. Vince always thought Chad was the coolest kid but in reality Chad was the biggest nerd. Vince has had crushes on both girls Gretchen and Spinelli. Gretchen might have thing for him as well. In sports Vince's greatest enemy is annoying bully Lawson.




Gus Griswald

T.J.´s gang has known each others since kindergarten. Gus was in the same kindergarten but only for a day before family moved away. Gus joins T.J.´s gang in the second Recess episode called "The New Kid" when his family moves back. Gus father is in the army so family had to move a lot.

Gus is the most shy member in T.J.´s gang. He also has big heart and defends himself and his friends if needed. Sometimes Gus also takes the role of a leader. This usually happens in situations where army-like discipline is needed. Because Gus´s father is in the army he can name any tanker or fighter plane.

Gus has short army-hair style, olive green shirt, dark green trousers, brown shoes, wristwatch and eyeglasses. His character design is a bit different compared to other human characters in the show. They have white-eyes with black dots in the middle. Gus only has black dot's as his eyes.







Democracy in the school yard 

In T.J.´s gang there are kids with different social statuses making the gang democratic. There is also authority in the form of principal Prickly. Monarchy in the form of King Bob. Security system (Big brother) in the form of Recess superviser Muriel Finster and her right hand Randall who quickly reports her if anything suspicious is going on. Security system is flawless of course because students enjoy fooling these two around and they don't always approve the commands from principal Prickly.

There is also controlled chaos, total anarchism in the form of kindergarten children. Teachers also have their own separate cast system that is completely detached from the happenings of the school yard. King Bob is tolerated mainly because he rarely sticks to other kids businesses. Ashley's also have their own monarchy. In the top are Ashley's themselves and then other popular students (like the court of king Bob). There also lot's of eccentric students that can not be classified like chip-girl, swing-girl, upside-down girl or the diggers. However they are not the lowest of the low. Lowest of the low are D&D geeks who spent their recess inside role-playing.

In T.J´s gang there is fighter girl with anger-issues, pacifist Mikey, popular athletic student Vince, young genius Gretchen, new kid Gus and glue that keeps the gang together T.J. What it comes to popularity scale Vince is pretty high, followed by Gretchen, then Spinelli, Mikey and Gus. As die-hard democrat T.J. is all the way against cast-system. Still he is extremely liked by teachers, kids, adults and both non-popular and popular students, This is also the reason why T.J.´s gang work together so well. These six don't give a damn about their social status. They just enjoy each others company.