When you think of family history work, some things that come to mind might be family trees, indexing—and now the Disney movie Frozen. FamilySearch recently published an article that highlights the inspiration behind Frozen and the ancestry of Frozen’s main characters.
While the mythical kingdom of Arendelle might not exist outside of the Frozen universe, it is based on the landscape, culture, and people of Norway. FamilySearch makes a few comparisons between Arendelle and Norway that might make you want to discover if any of your ancestors are from Norway.
Inspiration from the Landscape and Architecture
The kingdom of Arendelle’s design is based on the city of Bergen, a major port on the western coast of Norway. Although Arendelle’s design is from the west coast, the name is based on the southern port Arendal, meaning “eagle valley.” Even Arendelle’s castle was based on Heddal Church, which was designed in the Viking style of dragestil.
Norway’s landscape consists of fjords, mountains, and the forest. Sound familiar? Much of the action in Frozen takes place in a land that has all of these features.
Traditional Culture and Music
Much of the vocal music in Frozen is based on the music of the indigenous people of Norway—well, maybe not “Let It Go.” But FamilySearch notes that even the orchestral film score uses traditional elements of Nordic music. “The bukkehorn and other regional instruments were used to record the music. Kulning—a traditional high-pitched Scandinavian yodeling call—also played a prominent role throughout the soundtrack of the second Frozen movie.”
In addition, do you remember Anna’s dress? It is not only based on traditional Norwegian costumes called bunads but it also has rosemåling on it, a traditional Norwegian art form. In fact, rosemåling can be seen throughout the movie as even Elsa’s ice magic was inspired by the design style.
A Nod to the People and Customs
Trolls appear in Norwegian legends as well as in Frozen. According to legend, these trolls hide in the mountains, disguised as rocks during the day until night time, when they wreak havoc.
Trolls aren't the only familiar Frozen characters based on Norwegian culture. One of Frozen’s main characters is Sven, Kristoff’s pet reindeer. Traditional Norwegian people have herded reindeer for centuries, and reindeer can be seen in northern Norway.
Here's another connection. The Norse people, commonly referred to as Vikings, settled Norway in around the ninth century. During this time, the Vikings created their own alphabet and set of symbols now called runes. These symbols were shown in Frozen. FamilySearch references that a prominent rune symbol is seen on the poster for Frozen II—the four-point snowflake. This design was “based on the Norse vegvísir, a compass intended to prevent the wearer from getting lost in a storm, which reflects the themes of the second movie.”
Next time you’re combing through historical records, look a little closer to find out if you have the same ancestry as Anna and Elsa. Their heritage influences their story, and FamilySearch encourages you to find out how your heritage influences your own story.
Visit familysearch.org to learn more.