See below for an excerpt from my latest piece for The New Yorker, on Disney’s translation of its hit musical Frozen into Modern Standard Arabic. We’ve discussed this subject before on this blog. If you’re interested in reading earlier discussions, check out the following comment sections:
After reading the New Yorker piece, be sure to come back here to comment.
Translating “Frozen” into Arabic
For the past few months, I’ve lived my life to the soundtrack of Disney’s mega-hit musical “Frozen.” I wake up to the sound of my two daughters singing the Oscar-winning power anthem “Let It Go” at the top of their lungs as they get dressed for school. By breakfast, we’re on to “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” followed by the peppy duet “Love Is an Open Door.” Between bites of oatmeal, my four-year-old chimes in with well-rehearsed counterpoint as her older sister closes her eyes and solemnly belts out the reprise to “For the First Time in Forever.”
On a scale of infectiousness, these songs are pestilential. This is a good thing; “Frozen” recently became the fifth-highest-grossing film of all time. The story of two orphaned princesses—Elsa (aloof, traumatized, cryokinetic) and Anna (headstrong, starved for companionship)—in the fjord-riven realm of Arendelle, the film spent many years in development, as one producer after another tried to adapt Hans Christian Andersen’s dark fairy tale “The Snow Queen” into something Disneyesque. The result looks almost nothing like the original story, thanks in part to “Let It Go,” which prompted a re-write of Elsa’s character and turned her from a frigid hermit into a spunky feminist. (keep reading)