With the wonderful white Christmas that’s made so many of our lives unexpectedly interesting over this pre-holiday weekend, I thought it might be apropos to take another look at The Snow Queen. We’ve talked a little about the history of this project, which is now back in development at Disney. The studio has taken several stabs at animating the Hans Christian Andersen tale over the years, most recently from around 2000-2003.
Sadly, we don’t know a lot about those earlier versions of The Snow Queen. Not a lot has leaked out over the years since the project was canceled, and what art exists online consists solely of some character concepts by veteran artist Harald Siepermann and some story sketches by Woody Woodman.
Woodman’s sketches show a conversation between a penguin and a polar bear – two characters that could possibly be the film’s comedic sidekick characters. A larger storyboard image, shown at the top of this article and whose artist is unknown, shows a scene featuring the Snow Queen herself and her retinue. The scene also appears to have a distinctly comedic tone, as a seemingly exasperated Snow Queen deals with her army of snowmen and what appear to be trolls. One snowman is angry, possibly because he knows that his film is going to be taken out of production.
Siepermann’s wonderful art spans a range of possible looks for the Queen herself, from classical figures reminiscent of Alphonse Mucha’s work to far more cartoony designs. As you can see in the storyboard samples, it appears that they eventually decided to go with the more exaggerated, cartoonish look for the character. More of Siepermann’s design ideas for the Snow Queen can be seen below, but you’re best served by visiting his great blog and checking out his designs yourself.
But while you’re looking at the artwork, you’ll need some inspirational music. Thankfully now we not only know what Snow Queen would have looked like, but also possibly what it would have sounded like. After development on the film ended, it was announced that Alan Menken was developing a stage musical for Tokyo Disneyland based on the same story. It’s possible that some of these song ideas were adapted from work he’d done for the animated film; sadly, work on the stage musical was canceled about the time that the film was revived by the new management at Disney and it’s unknown if we’ll ever hear those songs. Except for one.
In September of 2005, the Kaufman Center’s Merkin Hall in New York City presented a tribute to Alan Menken. “Part of Your World: The Music of Alan Menken” presented an evening of Menken’s music performed by a number of prominent Broadway vocalists, many of whom had worked with Menken previously. One of the numbers, performed by Brian d’Arcy James, was Love Can’t Be Denied – one of Menken’s songs then being composed for The Snow Queen. The song can be heard below – it’s a rare listen at what could have been.
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