When it comes to Disney, the whole picture is key. Even the smallest details are often scrutinized and little is left to chance or happenstance. That attention to detail extends also into the marketing and promotion for their films and the upcoming animated feature length FROZEN 2 is no exception.
Earlier this year, celebrity astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson caused a small flurry in the Disney social media spheres by calling out the teaser poster for FROZEN 2 telling Disney directly, “you still have a few months to fix” the artwork showing a (physically impossible) 8-point snowflake instead of the traditional 6-point.
Respectfully, he is right, which means…it can't be a snowflake. 😉 https://t.co/gaq3Pr1OeS
— Jennifer Lee (@alittlejelee) July 23, 2019
Coy in her response, Jennifer Lee (Walt Disney Animation Chief Creative Officer and also a FROZEN 2 co-director) responded on Twitter, “You assume it’s a snowflake, do you?”
The mic-drop moment was followed up with another tweet which re-affirmed that no mistake was made in the chosen direction for the elegant minimal design. Fast forward to a few weeks ago when we were invited for a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film and we started to connect some more dots…
Feeling a bit like Julie Reihm when Walt Disney walked her through Imagineering to learn about Pirates of the Caribbean, we wound our way through the storied halls of Walt Disney Animation in Burbank hearing from several of the filmmakers including co-director Jennifer Lee herself.
Throughout the course of the media day, we came to learn that the journey upon which our favorite characters from Arendelle will embark in the upcoming sequel is very much a journey “into the unknown” — a recurring theme so prevalent that there’s even a song by that very name. We heard a bit of that very song last month at the D23 Expo and you can here a very small portion of it just recently released here.!
As to the choices made for the poster, there’s a few ideas here to consider. Perhaps the most compelling comparisons we’ve seen for the look of the “snowflake” is that it’s very similar to a Norse compass symbol called a “vegvisir.” We learned that this symbol is one that “if [carried], one will never lose one’s way in storms or bad weather, even when the way is not known.” That certainly describes the mystical path that we’ve seen thus-far in the released clips for the film. You could even say that describes Elsa’s path in the first film.
So are we looking at NORTH, SOUTH, EAST, and WEST? Maybe partially but as it would turn out, there’s an even deeper meaning if you look at the poster more closely!
Closer inspection of the poster shows us that four of the eight points on the snowflake actually have rune-like symbols on them. One symbol in particular is one you probably didn’t even realize you were looking at the entire time you saw Elsa’s ice magic in the FIRST FROZEN film. It’s a diamond inset within a diamond.
For the story of the first film, the pattern was inconsequential but it was there. Looking back more closely, we find over and again that Elsa’s ice magic was actually imbued with the same diamond-in-diamond pattern we see in the new poster. You can see below in the iconic “Let It Go” sequence from the first film that not only her icy chandelier but also the pattern in the floor below reflect the diamond-in-diamond motif. So why is it important? And what about the other three symbols?
Although we don’t know much about the four icons specifically, the new movie will feature a flashback with King Agnarr himself sharing with a young Ana and Elsa a story about a magical place he discovered as a boy; a place in which he encountered four mystical spirits. We learned that there are four spirits that he encountered: Air, Fire, Water, and Earth.
So where does Elsa fit into this scenario? It’s hard to say exactly because we already know the horse spirit that we first saw in the teaser for FROZEN 2 is Nokk, the Spirit of Water. We’ve also seen mystical wind Spirit of Air named Gale. So that leaves us with Fire and Earth. Oh, and then there’s that pink/purple Mist. Is it forming a heart shape? Where exactly does all this leave the mythic queen of Arendelle?
It looks like we might have to wait until later this year and venture “into the unknown” to get our answers.
FROZEN 2 opens in theaters November 22, 2019.