This week I discuss one of my absolute favorite fairy tales: The Snow Queen, originally written by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen. Many films and media have used the story as inspiration. Frozen or The Huntsman: Winter’s War are two recent examples. Others have adapted the story with their own twists like the 2002 Hallmark film and the 2005 anime.
However, there still hasn’t been a full length live action film made for theatrical release!
For those unaware of the full plot, the tale follows two young friends Kai and Gerda. Unfortunately one day, a splinter of the Devil’s troll mirror gets into Kai’s eyes. He turns away from everyone, only seeing the ugliness of life. When he goes out to play in the snow the following winter, the Snow Queen kidnaps him. She bids him to spell various words using shards of ice.
Of course through many trials and adventures, Gerda is able to find Kai. She saves him from the queen and they go back home grown up and happy.
The end includes a Bible passage about entering heaven, fittingly, since the entire premise is about Satan’s evil stopping us from seeing good. I think the message applies universally.
Anderson’s tale includes a larger cast of characters than included in most adaptations or media inspired by it. There is an Old Lady who Knew Magic with a garden permanently in summer, two crows, a Princess and a Prince, an Old Robber Woman and her daughter, a reindeer, and two women who help Gerda. Any film adaptation should utilize the same characters!
The 2002 Hallmark adaptation actually takes a handful of these characters and adjusts them so that Gerda spends time with a representation of each season before Winter (Snow Queen). The Old Lady becomes the Spring Witch, the Princess/Prince combined are the Summer Princess, and the Robber Woman becomes Autumn Robber. All three want to keep Gerda for themselves.
There’s also a talking polar bear (? sure Hallmark) who loves the Snow Queen. Oh, and the Queen caused Gerda’s magical mother’s death. Nothing like magical rivalries to get a story going.
The 2005 anime posits that the Snow Queen is actually fighting the devil. She wants Ka(y) to help her put together the mirror to seal Satan away.
Like Little Red Riding Hood and Bluebeard, anadaptation of the Snow Queen can go in any direction while following the main plot. The story’s premise rests on the Devil (or any evil figure) wishing to sow discord, and the quest of a young woman to save not only her loved one but the world.
I also think that Gerda’s quest, which starts out of her love for Kai, translates well to any person’s love for another (or humanity).
The possibilities for settings and character changes are endless. Beyond needing a place where snow occurs (naturally or through magic) and a baddie who hates the beauty in the world, adaptations can literally do anything!