What movie is this? Looks amazing!
It’s the 1957 Snow Queen movie animated in Russia, and my favourite Snow Queen adaptation of all time. You can easily find the full movie with subs on youtube.
If I could say one thing about this movie that sets it apart from the rest, it’s the portrayal of the Snow Queen herself. (It’s slightly spoilery from here on, so watch the movie first, if you want to see it for yourself.)
It’s established very early on in the book that the Queen is a personification of a force of nature, a fey, maybe. She’s not a person, she has no emotions, no way of understanding love, and no real motive for her actions. She basically kidnaps Kay because, well, she felt like it. This is important. A lot of other adaptations (like the Hallmark channel one, and the 1995 UK-animated one) make her rationalize her actions - she’s evil because she needs her mirror fixed, she wants eternal winter, yadda yadda. Basically, they make her have a reason for her villainy. Here? Nah, they don’t ever explain why she does what she does - the writers are fully aware that they’re dealing with winter itself - winter makes no distinction between right and wrong, it freezes to death innocent people and horrible ones without distinction. This woman is not human, and she shouldn’t, by right, act like one.
That sense that you couldn’t reason with her, topped off by her sheer unpredictability was TERRIFYING to watch as a kid. No other Snow Queen has been this menacing.
Secondly, the Snow Queen in the climax was incredible! She appears as a giant in front of Gerda, several stories tall with a blank emotionless mask for a face. Gerda, our heroine, has grown into an independent woman by now - she’s walked across the earth BAREFOOT for her best friend Kay and now she’s found him and isn’t about to let him go - she screams to the Snow Queen to leave them alone, that Kay is no longer her’s to control. The tension builds, the standstill continues, and just as the climax gets unbearable, the Snow Queen on her throne… slowly vanishes.
She disappears. The strangest western standoff you’ll ever see has come to it’s anticlimactic end. It’s important to remember Gerda didn’t defeat her, she didn’t vanquish her, the Snow Queen is still out there. The Queen disappears and in her place is a sunny warm landscape - she’s conceded to Gerda “You’ve won this battle, have your warmth, but you can never defeat me,” I think that’s the perfect way for her to go. There are PLENTY of adaptations that strive to give us a traditional happy ending, some have the Snow Queen ‘cured’ and turned into a human being (I’m looking at you, Egmont’s Fairytaler and Hallmark!) but that defeats the purpose of the original story. The Snow Queen is winter itself, and no one man (or girl!) can truly defeat winter, no matter how much magic you have on your hands. Nature itself is greater than any human power.
The Snow Queen is a story of the power of faith and love, and how those will help you succeed. And by ‘succeed’, I don’t mean ‘defeat the personification of all that is wintry and cold and merciless’. It’s not about the triumph of humankind over the elements, it’s just a simple story about keeping love and innocent faith in your heart until you reach your goals, and and no movie has ever stuck more true to that than this one.