Since today is the first Monday of December, I thought I’d give today’s post a bit of a winter theme. Today’s featured concept art is from Frozen and was created by Claire Keane. As I mentioned in some of my posts on Tangled I absolutely adore Claire Keane’s art, she is probably my favorite artist to ever work at Walt Disney Animation. This piece of Frozen concept art is just as amazing as the work she did on Tangled, the characters are incredibly delicate looking yet they’re also extremely detailed, and I love the huge variety of blues she used in these wintry characters. It’s unfortunate that Frozen was the last film she worked on for Disney before going off to work on her own projects.
This is obviously a piece of concept art from very early in the film’s development. Anna’s design does look largely the same as did in the final film, but at this point the film closely followed Hans Christian Anderson’s The Snow Queen, so Anna was actually called Gerda during this time period. Elsa’s character, or really the Snow Queen also sticks closely to Hans Christian Anderson’s original story. This design comes from a time when she was still considered the straight forward villain of the story and had no relation to Anna. There were many different versions of vileness Elsa/ Snow Queen created. This particular version with her tall, thin, statuesque figure and ice blue skin was supposed to be reminiscent of a glamorous and dramatic old-school Broadway divas. There were even early talks about having Bette Midler voice the character. The queen’s clothing was going to be incredibly showy and reminiscent of theatrical costumes, as you can see here. Also notice the live mink hanging around her neck. She was actually going to have an entire winter coat made up of her live pet minks (both extravagant and incredibly creepy). According to Claire Keane, she fittingly based most of her designs for the Snow Queen on the character of Auntie Mame from the musical and film Mame.
Eventually “Let it Go” was written, which sparked a huge change in the development of the character of the Snow Queen/ Elsa. She became Anna’s sister and eventually became one of the heroes of the film. The blue-skinned diva queen and all of her concept art was entirely banished to the archives. Although the directors clearly went the right way in changing Elsa to the character we know today, you have to admit that this version of the Snow Queen was a very interesting idea.