Before there was Bruno ("…no, no, no"), there was Elsa. It’s hard to believe it’s been nearly a decade since "Frozen" first took the world by storm. The 2013 film from Walt Disney Animation Studios promised in its trailers to be "the greatest Disney animated event since ‘The Lion King,’" and that bold statement was pretty much spot on. From its chart-topping music to endearing characters, "Frozen" became an international phenomenon.
However, even within many "Frozen" spin-off adventures developed by Disney — such as a number of short films, a holiday special, and even an animated LEGO event — there are still a few loose ends, confusing moments, and altogether unresolved plot points from the two feature films at the center of the "Frozen" franchise. There are a few layers to the series’ lore that remain up to the viewers’ imagination. Love might be an open door, but apparently these unanswered questions are similarly open-ended.
How does Kristoff meet Sven?
The very first sequence in "Frozen" shows a group of ice harvesters … well, harvesting ice. Naturally, they sing as they do so, harmonizing about how though they must chop away at the ice they mine, everyone must "beware the frozen heart," alluding to a key plot point later on in the film. The men chip away at large formations of ice and carry stacks of it away in a sled pulled by a reindeer. Alongside the team is a young boy with a baby reindeer and miniature sleigh of his own, happy to do his part.
The boy affectionately calls the reindeer "Sven," implying they have an established relationship as pet owner and pet. We later come to know the young boy as Kristoff (who appears to be somewhere in his late teens or twenties in age), but we never discover just how he and Sven became a duo. It could make for an adorable origin story; Sven sticks by Kristoff’s side through adulthood, a better friend to him than any other person. It would be interesting to learn the origins of their bond.
Why do the trolls kidnap Kristoff?
The trolls’ parental relationship to Kristoff is always presented as friendly, but the dynamic between them has some red flags.
With minimal context at the beginning of "Frozen," if the audience is to assume anything, it would be that young Kristoff might be the son of one of the ice harvesters that he loyally accompanies to work. At the very least, he knows these guys. While no adults say anything directly to Kristoff during the ice harvesting scene, or vice versa, he’s with them the entire time and is clearly connected to this pack in some way.
Kristoff and Sven then stumble upon a troll colony, at which point one of the trolls hugs them and proclaims, "Cuties! I’m gonna keep you." Ummm… what?
Kristoff later shares that he was raised by the trolls and considers them his family. But that doesn’t justify why the trolls abducted a human child and reindeer to keep as their own. It would be different if Kristoff was shown as a distressed wanderer, or if viewers definitively knew he doesn’t have another family. But since he was with the ice harvesters earlier, surely one of them is related to him or knows him somehow. Somewhere out there, could there be a family worried about the child they lost in the woods and never found? Regardless, Kristoff’s upbringing doesn’t seem to bother him, and if he has any memories of his life before the trolls, he never talks about it onscreen.
Why does Grand Pabbie traumatize Elsa?
When playtime goes wrong and young Elsa accidentally strikes Anna with her icy powers, the royal family seeks healing and answers from the trolls. Grand Pabbie, leader of the trolls, heals Anna but decides to remove any memories she has of Elsa’s magic. He also gives strict, dramatic instructions to Elsa to control her powers, warning her, "Fear will be your enemy." To prevent harm that may happen in the future from Elsa’s unpredictable powers, her parents then reduce their staff and limit Elsa’s interactions with others going forward.
Poor Elsa. She has abilities she doesn’t understand, and rather than patiently offering guidance and helping her find a solution (or, heaven forbid, celebrate her powers), every authority figure around Elsa instead frightens her with worst-case scenarios and extreme overreactions. Even worse, she has to hide who she is from her sister, her closest friend. Grand Pabbie doesn’t handle that conversation the way he should, and Elsa’s parents likewise make the situation worse, despite their intentions. As the audience later witnesses, Elsa is fated to deal with the implications of this traumatizing moment of parenting for the rest of her life.
How do Rapunzel and Flynn Rider know Elsa?
It was a cameo that was endlessly freeze-framed. Blink and you’ll miss it, but during the song "For The First Time In Forever," sharp-eyed viewers can spot Disney royalty among the crowd. As the gates of Arendelle open and Anna excitedly bounces through the sea of people arriving to celebrate Elsa’s coronation day, among the guests are none other than Rapunzel and Flynn Rider from 2010’s "Tangled." Yes, the Fitzherberts themselves are right here in Arendelle.
But why are they here? And how do they know Elsa?
To answer that, fans might need to take a deep dive into Disney conspiracy theories. In 2014, "Frozen" filmmakers participated in an "Ask Me Anything" session on Reddit. Upon being asked where Anna and Elsa’s parents were traveling to when their ship crashed, director Jennifer Lee said they were going to a wedding and suggested that the parents survived and wound up on the shores of Africa, giving birth to Tarzan.
A Tumblr user took the ball and ran with it, suggesting the wedding in question was Rapunzel and Flynn’s, which would add validity to the couple’s cameo in "Frozen." Going further down the rabbit hole, it was suggested that the crashed ship was the vessel explored by Ariel and Flounder in "The Little Mermaid." The events of "Frozen 2" render this theory null and void, of course, but it’s still fun to imagine. Sometimes, it seems, a hidden character is nothing more than just that.
Just who is Wandering Oaken?
Viewers first meet Wandering Oaken when Anna stumbles upon his trading post (and sauna) in "Frozen." He sells anything a traveler might need for their journey, as well as offering a relaxing sauna session, which his family is enjoying at the time of Anna’s visit. As luck would have it, Oaken is hosting a "big summer blowout," with everything marked down.
It’s all in the name, but Wandering Oaken does indeed do his share of venturing out and about over the course of the "Frozen" series, despite seemingly having permanent residence in a cabin in the woods. Quite the entrepreneur, in the 2015 short film "Frozen Fever," Oaken operates a mobile pharmacy while in 2019’s "Frozen 2," he’s a mobile manicurist. While the audience may not know Oaken’s full backstory, he’s a man of many talents and seems to be in the right place at the right time whenever these characters need something he sells.
The trolls sing, people don’t really change. What’s up with that?
In the song "Fixer Upper," the trolls sing about how while Kristoff might not be perfect, he’d make a great husband for Anna — in their opinion. During the song, one of the trolls sings to Anna, "We’re not saying you can change him, ’cause people don’t really change. We’re only saying that love’s a force that’s powerful and strange." Huh? This is a bizarre lyric that stands out in a movie all about love and optimism. It seems to throw a random, definitive, philosophical, altogether pessimistic statement into an otherwise zippy song is an odd choice that must have some sort of purpose.
The sentiment "people don’t really change" is, if anything, refuted time and again throughout the "Frozen" series. Every character changes in some way, as they grow and learn new things. Perhaps the trolls mean that in a relationship, no one should try to change what makes their partner special, but the generic blanket statement "people don’t really change," spoken with dismissive authority that assumes its hubris without a second thought, veers the sentiment elsewhere. If the lyric is meant to be on the nose or ironic, it’s not delivered that way.
What happens in Weselton when Hans returns?
Prince Hans hails from the Southern Isles — Weselton, to be exact. Which is, as its duke so frequently insists, pronounced "wessel-tuhn," not "weasel-town." When Hans arrives in Arendelle, it doesn’t take long for Princess Anna to become smitten with him. After only one evening together, the two decide to get married. It’s all a ruse, however. After Elsa flees following an icy incident, Hans ultimately reveals his plan to take over the throne of Arendelle no matter the cost, even if it means killing Anna and Elsa. Once things get sorted out, Arendelle royal staff send Hans and the duke back to Weselton, where they’re hopeful that Hans’ twelve older brothers will dutifully punish them.
In the 2015 short film "Frozen Fever," fans get a small glimpse at what Hans is up to in Weselton: scooping manure. It seems his brothers put him in his place after all, though it would be great to see what went down when Hans first returned. How did his family take it when they learned Hans attempted homicide? And where is the duke? Hans and anything to do with Weselton is (perhaps rightfully) absent in "Frozen 2," as the story moves on to other narratives and characters.
What is the extent of Elsa’s powers?
For Elsa to be cursed with the power of ice and snow, there are certainly a lot of extra capabilities she seems to possess that have nothing to do with temperature. Screen Junkies on YouTube points out some of these non-sequiturs in their "Frozen" Honest Trailer, each one as seemingly ridiculous as the last, including, "dress-making, castle-building, and creating life? They kinda gloss over that one." Yes, Elsa can apparently empower sentience into snow, from Olaf the huggable snowman to Marshmallow the terrifying snow monster.
Granted, "Frozen 2" adds a little more credibility to Elsa’s seemingly bizarre skillset. It turns out that she’s actually the fifth spirit along with earth, air, fire, and water that make up the elements of nature. Elsa’s powers derive from her mother selflessly saving her father when the couple was young and each belonged to opposite sides of a war between Arendelle and Northuldra. "Nature" rewarded Elsa’s mom’s heroism with Elsa’s powers. This might not add clarity to any common thread among Elsa’s disparate abilities, but it at least gives some reasoning behind why they’re more than just ice.
How does Olaf know who Mickey Mouse is?
Charades is the activity of choice during family game night in "Frozen 2." When it’s Olaf’s turn and he has to mime the word "mouse," he promptly puts two of his circle-shaped coals on either side of his head, cocks out his heel, puts one of his arms in a "ta-da" gesture, and puts on a huge smile — an unmistakable charade of Mickey Mouse. Kristoff correctly guesses the word from Olaf’s clues.
Olaf could have simply acted like an actual mouse, maybe pretending to have whiskers or mimicking the nimble way a mouse eats cheese. The fact that he instead chooses to imitate Mickey implies a few things about Arendelle that makes this simple wink to Disney history complicated. If Kristoff and Olaf know who Mickey Mouse is, does that mean there’s a Walt Disney Company in the fictional world of "Frozen"? But if the movies take place before the dawn of electricity, that means there’s no such thing as cartoons or movies yet. How is Mickey a recognizable figure to them? Are tales of this plucky mouse passed on as oral stories? This logic could also be applied to "Olaf Presents," a series of shorts in which Olaf acts out favorite Disney animated movies like "The Little Mermaid" and "Moana." Best to not overthink it too much, perhaps.
Do the trolls live in Arendelle now?
The geography of Arendelle and its surrounding village and forest are never quite explained in full detail. This leads to some questions about where the trolls lived during the events of "Frozen" and if they live somewhere different during "Frozen 2." The journey to visit the trolls is shown to be an extensive voyage in "Frozen," but in "Frozen 2," the trolls arrive rather quickly when the elements begin to invoke harm upon Arendelle.
This implies that even if the trolls still live in their colony in the mountains, it’s considered within the confines of Arendelle’s kingdom, since they experienced the elements the same as the rest of the village. Their swiftness and near-comical abruptness arriving on the scene to conveniently explain everything that’s happening implies that they either moved closer to the kingdom proper, or they’re just really fast travelers who roll around all over the place.
Do any other connections exist between Elsa and Olaf?
Olaf came to life through Elsa’s magic, and in "Frozen 2" viewers learn that his existence relies on Elsa’s survival. As she becomes weak and eventually freezes, Olaf, for lack of a better word, dies. His snowman form disintegrates into snowflakes and rests itself in a pile. All’s well that ends well, however, as Elsa is revived and is able to use that same pile of snow to bring Olaf back to life.
This connection solidifies that there’s clearly strong magic between Elsa and Olaf, though this is the first time that Elsa’s health appears to have affected that of Olaf. For example, when Elsa was sick in "Frozen Fever," Olaf seemed fine. Is it only life-and-death situations that prompt this connection between the two of them, or are there other circumstances that lead to something happening to Olaf as a result of what Elsa is experiencing? Also, can the bond ever go in the reverse direction, where something happening to Olaf would affect Elsa?
How does Anna emerge from the Jotunn battle completely unscathed?
The Jotunn are rock formations that represent the "earth" element of the five spirits in "Frozen 2." They’re huge and destructive, and Anna realizes they’re her only hope to set things right. She discovers that the dam at the river, thought to be a symbol of unity between Arendelle and Northundra, was built with malicious intention. In order to save everyone, the dam must be broken. But how do you destroy a sturdy, generations-old structure? Some big, scary rock monsters might do the trick.
Anna lures the Jotunn toward the dam by acting as bait, and correctly guesses that the creatures will throw rocks at her. She utilizes some impeccable coordination skills, running at full sprint while dodging boulders being tossed at her from behind. Sometimes she just barely dodges the rocks by inches. It’s an impressive feat; maybe it’s that soon-to-be-queen power or a rock radar akin to spidey sense, but Anna comes out on the other side without a scratch.
How does this Gale mail delivery system work?
One of the five spirits in "Frozen 2" is the air element, which Olaf affectionately names "Gale." While Gale doesn’t inhabit a physical form — unlike, for example, the fire spirit, Bruni, who appears as a salamander-like creature — she does seem to have something of a personality. She comforts Elsa in times of need and, as viewers discover at the end of the film, gladly delivers messages through the air now that Elsa doesn’t live in Arendelle anymore. Gale is something of an owl post, minus the owl.
Anna and Elsa seem to have some control over summoning Gale. Does this always work? How do they distinguish between Gale and any old gust of wind? Does Gale’s wind feel different somehow? Also, can anyone take advantage of this "air mail" delivery system, because it sure seems better than waiting in line at the post office.
What is Elsa’s mom’s afterlife situation?
In "Frozen 2," we learn that Elsa is a fifth spirit of nature along with earth, air, fire, and water. Elsa first begins her journey to discovering who she really is by following a melodic call she hears in the distance. Eventually she finds out that the call is being sung by none other than her deceased mother, beckoning her to learn her true purpose.
So, how does the afterlife works within the "Frozen" universe? Elsa’s mother exists somewhere, despite having died in her physical form on earth, and is visible to Elsa somewhat like a projection on the walls of an icy cavern. The scene, taking place in the "Show Yourself" song, brings to mind Mufasa’s moment of confronting Simba as a ghost in "The Lion King."
Before Anna and Elsa’s parents died in "Frozen," it was clear that they didn’t understand Elsa’s powers in the slightest. In "Frozen 2," Elsa’s mom not only understands Elsa’s powers, but is the authority on how she can step into what she was meant to do all along. What happened in between that led to this shift in perspective and awareness? How did Elsa’s mother, in death, learn the truth, and how did she know how to contact Elsa?