Frozen 2 is crammed full of catchy and power tracks from Into the Unknown to Show Yourself, but one of them was very nearly cut.
The sequel to the 2013 box office hit was always under pressure to match if not surpass Let it Go, the tune on everyone’s lips for years after its release.
While Into the Unknown is often compared to Let it Go, the Frozen 2 tune Show Yourself is more of Elsa’s coming home song – a powerful theatrical duet with her mother as she reaches Athahalla.
But despite its importance in the final cut of the movie it was nearly axed – only months before the release in November 2019.
In Disney+‘s Into the Unknown: Making of Frozen 2, the new behind-the-scenes documentary, we get to see the full process as the film gets made, from animation to music, storyboarding to director’s cuts.
One of the big arching points in the documentary is the battle the team had to get Show Yourself to work.
Bobby Lopez and Kristen-Anderson Lopez, who wrote the music for both movies, penned the song based on the first ideas the team had, but it didn’t quite “land”.
Director of story Mark Smith reveals that it was barely eight months before release that the struggle was still raging on.
“I don’t think we’ve found a reason to keep it in,” he says adding it “feels like the patient is on the operating table but we’ve got one last shot at bringing it back.”
Co-director Jennifer Lee is seen talking about how she doesn’t see it fitting and how she’ll be “the bad guy” and tell the duo that the song needs to go and be replaced with a new song ‘I Am Home’.
What they don’t know is the pair have actually already worked 24 hours on the song and rewritten the intro clarifying the storyline – and as we hear on the doc, getting the first verse closer to what we finally hear in the movie.
“What if this song is ‘I’m Home’ and not ‘Show Yourself?” she asks.
“I just feel like the hook is wrong, you have to change the song if you change the hook.”
Co-director Chris Bucks agrees saying it’s not “emotionally adding up. I’m not feeling anything.”
When Bobby Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez join the call they’re honest with their take, agreeing to look at another song, but saying it it’s boring and could be too similar to Let it Go. As they hang up Kristen says: “I don’t know about that whole pitch of she gets there and she sees a glacier and she suddenly realizes, ‘Oh It isn’t a person it’s a glacier… I don’t think it’s going to make any sense.”
The main issue at this stage is that the team don’t agree on who is calling Elsa.
Elsa hears the voice all through the movie calling her to Ahtohallan, but the team is confused as to who the voice should be.
Is it Elsa herself? A spirit? Lee says the team “all have different opinions”.
By the time the Story Trust screening arrives, when the movie is seen by the directors and animators to give feedback (there’s six of them in a full movie process), the song is a success.
The song was seen as playing as it was intended and goes down well – the song was saved!
Following the screening the team settle on the answer to their question. Elsa is hearing her mother.
We see Evan Rachel Wood come back in to record her side of the duet and the team all breathe a sigh of relief as Show Yourself more than works, it’s a success.
While fans still debate over who Elsa was hearing, the film is clearer showing Elsa’s mother in the ice, singing with her.
Arguably, Show Yourself is the best song of Frozen 2 (this writer thinks so at least), so thank goodness it was saved. It just goes to show how much can go on behind the scenes before we even get to see the finished movie.
Frozen 2 is on Disney+ 3rd July (along with Hamilton) – you can sign up for £59.99 a year and £5.99 a month.