Exhibit A: Elsa and Jack
Let’s talk about a movie in which the menacing main character is a danger to family members, whose volatility increases after a long isolation inside a giant, ornate, high-ceilinged building in a cold, desolate landscape. Perhaps the acquisition of a brand new leadership position set off an unraveling this character cannot control.
Exhibit B: Anna and Danny
An innocent protagonist, touched by the supernatural, is locked out of a forbidden room inside a giant, ornate, high-ceilinged building in a cold, desolate landscape, and forced to play childlike games alone in its incongruously cavernous hallways.
Exhibit C: Olaf and Wendy
Hm, a somewhat goofy supporting character who knows our principal characters better than anyone and will sacrifice anything to protect our innocent protagonist from danger.
Exhibit D: Anna and Danny’s injuries
As we are introduced to Jack Torrance and his family in “The Shining,” the aspiring writer is preparing to take a job as the winter caretaker of the Overlook Hotel. But before he arrives at the hotel, we are given a foreboding glimpse into Jack’s character and past by his wife Wendy, who divulges the story of their son Danny’s dislocated shoulder. The incident caused Jack to give up drinking, according to Wendy.
“Well, it’s just one of those things. You know…purely an accident, um. My husband had oh…been drinking and he came home about three hours late, so he wasn’t exactly in the greatest mood that night. And, well Danny had scattered some of his school papers all over the room…and my husband grabbed his arm, you know, and pulled him away from them. It’s…it’s just the sort of thing you do a hundred times with a child—you know, in the park or on the street—but on this particular occasion, my husband just…used too much strength and he injured Danny’s arm.”
As we are introduced to Elsa and her family in “Frozen,” we learn that as children, Elsa injured her sister Anna with a frozen shot to the head, which forced Elsa to give up her cryokinetic magic powers.
Exhibit E : Kristoff & Sven/Hallorann & Snowcat
Oh, sure, you say, but what of Kristoff and Sven? Surely the similarities end here. Kristoff is a snowsuit-clad rescuer whose family experience with the supernatural (the trolls) gives him a special bond with Anna (once healed by the trolls). His years of experience in the snow allow him to bring Sven to whisk Olaf and Anna away from danger.
And, Overlook chef Dick Hallorann is but a snowsuit-clad rescuer whose family experience with the supernatural (the clairvoyant “Shining”) gives him a special bond with Danny (also has the “Shining”). His years of experience in the snow allow him to bring a Snowcat to attempt to whisk Wendy and Danny to safety.
Imagine Elsa hitting Kristoff in the chest with a fire ax as he enters her fancy ice palace, and we have a match! But who can imagine Elsa so scary? She doesn’t mean to hurt anyone. Right?
For those who are really familiar with both “Frozen” and “The Shining,” I will note the parallels between Elsa’s sanctuary—her ice palace on the North Mountain—and Jack’s, the Gold Ballroom, whose walls and bar back are covered in iridescent, mirrored tile of some sort. Icy, one might call it. If only Elsa had had a bartender as good as Lloyd.
Exhibit F: Hans and Grady
This one’s a little more figurative, so stick with me. Delbert Grady is the seemingly refined but evil, murderous caretaker of The Overlook who came before Jack Torrance. He killed his wife and two daughters. Hans is the seemingly refined but evil caretaker of Arendelle after Elsa runs away to the North Mountain. He is intent on killing his fiancé and her sister.
In “The Shining,” Grady is pretty clearly a symbol of Jack’s struggle with himself during his descent into madness. Their conversation in the bathroom of the Gold Ballroom pushes Jack to acknowledge and embrace his inner psychopath. And, when Jack has been locked away in the pantry by Wendy, it is the specter of Grady who pays him a visit before the culminating scene in which he chases Danny and Wendy.
In Hans’ final confrontation with Elsa he adopts the brutal tone of Grady in forcing Elsa to reckon with the real damage of which she’s capable.
Hans: You can’t run from this!
Elsa: Just take care of my sister…
Hans: Your sister? She returned from the mountain weak and cold. She said you froze her heart. I tried to save her, but it was too late. Her skin was ice. Her hair turned white…Your sister is dead… because of you.
It is also Hans who visits the locked-away Elsa before the culminating scene, in which her icy power closes in on Anna and Olaf.
Exhibit G: The Escape
When Anna and Olaf realize they are stuck in the Arendelle castle as Elsa’s power begins to throw icicle daggers in their way, Olaf throws open an upstairs window, and sends Anna sliding down the snow to the ground. Olaf follows.
In “The Shining,” as Jack corners Danny and Wendy in an upstairs bathroom with his ax, Wendy throws open a window and sends Danny sliding down the snow to the ground. In this version, of course, Wendy cannot escape as easily as Olaf does.
Exhibit H: The End
An act of love? Credit to arendelle.weebly.com and kissthemgoodbye.net for screencaps.
You’ll notice the characters who meet their icy demise at the ends of these movies don’t match up. Because love. When Anna sacrifices herself to save Elsa—despite the fact that Elsa almost killed her twice—she is able to save them both, teaching Elsa that love can conquer a cold death and help her control her dangerous wintery outbursts.
I mean, it’s not “The Shining,” y’all. It’s Disney’s “The Shining.” So, Kristoff doesn’t get an ax plunged into his chest, Olaf doesn’t have to face “Heeeeere’s Johnny!” and Anna and Elsa and Olaf and everyone can live happily ever after. Maybe if Danny had taken one for the team, “The Shining” could have ended a lot more happily. But that’s not gonna bring Scatman Crothers back, now is it?
I rest my case. And, now I can take my rightful place among the crazy people in the documentary “Room 237,” which chronicles wacky theories about “The Shining.” My theory is of course that Stanley Kubrick, in his genius, was predicting with eerie accuracy the highest-grossing animated film of all time, 33 years before its release.