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Frozen II is Disney’s newest addition to its long history of dark fairytales

By Sangeeta Singh-Kurtz

The first full-length, long-awaited trailer for Disney’s Frozen II, the sequel to the beloved 2013 animated fantasy film, was released today (June 11):

The film is the follow-up to the story of Anna (voiced by Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel), two spunky sisters fighting against various evil forces in their Kingdom of Arendelle. Frozen is a children’s story, but many in the entertainment press point out that the early glimpse suggests Frozen II will adopt a darker, more serious tone: The preview features a stormy sea, a mysterious threat, and Tolkien-esque stone giants.

Disney’s apparent departure from the quaint children’s picture that was the first Frozen, a film that spawned such upbeat ditties as “Do You Want To Build A Snowman?” and Elsa’s empowering “Let it Go” anthem, might seem surprising. But if Frozen II does end up striking a more serious tone, it wouldn’t be much of an anomaly—many of Disney’s most classic installments have been some of its darkest.

Indeed, many of Disney’s early classics are based on or inspired by fairytale storylines penned by the likes of Hans Christian Anderson, the Brothers Grimm, and other Western folklore writers. These stories are more tragic than whimsical, marked by dark tropes and tragedies central the fairytale genre—motherless children, abusive step parents, and forced marriages. And so their Disney spinoffs, films like Cinderella, Snow White, Bambi and more, carry these markers, too, though surrounded by shinier packaging of cute forest animals and songs perfect for singalongs.

In any case, we’ll find out what happens when Frozen II, directed by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee, hits theaters on Nov. 22.