The Surprising Connection Frozen 2 Has To The Shining
As famous American movies go, there could hardly be two more different than “The Shining” and “Frozen II.” Even leaving aside the obvious facts that one is a gruesome horror movie and the other is a family-oriented CGI adventure, or that one came out just recently while the other hails from 1980, the very reception both films were met with could be argued to be diametrically opposite.
While “Frozen II” was a general critical success and worldwide box office hit — nothing less than the highest-grossing animated film ever (via The Numbers) — that ultimately didn’t leave nearly as much of a cultural footprint as its predecessor, “The Shining” was the precise inverse. Originally met with controversy among critics and general audiences alike upon its 1980 release, even garnering Razzie nominations for Stanley Kubrick and Shelley Duvall (via IMDb), the film eventually went through a cultural reappraisal and became a consensus pick for the all-time horror canon, leaving a mark on film history that few other productions can compare to.
Yet despite those vastly different trajectories, both films do have a few commonalities: the icy settings, the wintry costume design, the conspicuous presence of supernatural themes. And then there’s one particular connection between the two movies that you might never have guessed.
Both films incorporate the Gregorian chant 'Dies Irae'
Both “The Shining” and “Frozen II” hold a special place for music in their cinematic stylings. “The Shining” has one of the greatest film scores of all time, courtesy of the great Wendy Carlos, who was a one-woman revolution in the realm of electronic music. “Frozen II,” meanwhile, is, of course, a musical — and, while it didn’t produce any hits on par with “Let It Go,” it did have its share of Lopez family bops, most notably including “Into the Unknown.”
Interestingly, those with a good ear might notice that a musical pattern from “Into the Unknown” also occurs in “The Shining.” The wistful melody that Elsa (Idina Menzel) hears repeatedly throughout the song, sung by Norwegian singer Aurora, is actually the Gregorian chant “Dies Irae,” which tells of the Christian Judgment Day (via Quartz). As songwriter Robert Lopez told Vanity Fair, he and Kristen Anderson-Lopez decided Elsa should be awakened by a motif that evoked “death and danger,” as “Dies Irae” has throughout musical and film history.
Lopez himself made note of the fact that the hymn is used at the beginning of “The Shining.” It’s the creepy musical piece that plays over the opening titles, as we see the Torrance family driving through the chilly Colorado landscape. And it’s a testament to Carlos’ brilliance that she managed to make that “Shining” version sound so unlike anything you’d expect to hear in a kids’ movie.