Disney's new trailer for Frozen 2 casts an enchanting spell without ever making truly clear what the story is. In other words: a perfect teaser for another visually arresting fairy tale, and engrossing celebration of sisterhood.
Here are the themes we've extracted from the latest teaser.
1. We get more Anna and Elsa backstory
In 2013, the first Frozen movie took an iceberg-sized $1 billion at the global box office. One of the reasons was the emotional directness of its storyline – despite its mythological trappings, the movie had a recognisably human centre in the shape of sisters Anna (Kristen Bell) and the ice-manipulating Elsa (Idina Menzel).
The first film alluded briefly to the childhood of the two women – it transpired magical Elsa was separated from her sibling over fears she would cause injury. Frozen 2 reinstates the importance of family and legacy by showing how the fairy tale tradition was passed down to both Anna and Elsa by their parents – but judging from the seemingly worried expression of their mother, there's more to this than meets the eye.
2. The source of Elsa's powers is key
Anna and Elsa's father tells of the tale of an enchanted forest, seemingly the same forest that plays a role in the Frozen 2 storyline when the girls are grown up.
Are we deriving from this that the forest is the source of Elsa's powers? Given the matching between the purple-hued magic at the start of the trailer, and the same-coloured spells Elsa later deploys, we imagine there's a personal connection to this tale. The whole onus of the sisters' new quest is to discover who's calling to Elsa via magic, so we imagine any introductory preamble will play an important role in her character development.
3. Arendelle has some new defenders
This trailer acts as our first introduction to Sterling K. Brown's character Lt. Destin Matthias. He runs into Anna, Elsa, snowman Olaf (Josh Gad), Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) and reindeer Sven on their mysterious quest beyond Arendelle. Judging from his brief dialogue, he and his troops appear to be defending Arendelle from marauding monsters from the north – imagine the Knight's Watch vs the Wights but, you know, family-friendly.
Mind you, that rock monster who appears at the end could potentially give the Night King a run for his money.
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4. Elsa may be a threat again
As mentioned, in the first movie a rift grew between the teenage Anna and Elsa owing to the latter's magical powers. Eventually, Elsa turned her back on the opportunity to become queen, incarcerating herself in an icy castle and engulfing the land of Arendelle in an eternal winter.
As we know, sister Anna's intervention later restored peace to the land, but how long will it last in Frozen 2? Returning character Grand Pabbie – or at least we assume it's him – has more dire portents about the potentially devastating impacts of Elsa's powers. So will returning to their source help restore a sense of inner peace and save the kingdom once and for all? And how will the grounding presence of the non-magical Anna further help restore the sense of balance?
5. Sisters stick together
The Frozen franchise mines a great deal of visual and thematic potential from the contrast of the various elements. The animation in Frozen 2 looks especially gorgeous with its contrast between frigid, snow-blasted wastes and the warm autumnal hues of the unexplored landscapes.
And the dialogue is also peppered with such oppositions: in spite of Elsa's snowy abilities, she provocatively tells Anna to stop walking through fire for her. "Then don't run into fire," is the latter's response.
It's a vivid description and one that actively connects the themes of sisterhood with those of the natural world. The world of Arendelle, it seems, is a figurative extension of the affection that exists between the two sisters. How much of their history will unthaw in Frozen 2 remains to be seen.