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Worlds Apart. The Nordic Countries in Worldbuilding: Frozen and Frozen II

Luna's fifth Call for Papers, Worlds Apart: Worldbuilding in Fantasy and Science Fiction is now in pre-order and will be released on Tuesday 27th of July. Here is a chance to discover the 14 brilliant papers you will find in the book in the order they appear.

Today, we would like to introduce you to Jyrki Korpua, presenting the paper: "The Nordic Countries in Worldbuilding: Frozen and Frozen II"

Jyrki said:

While watching Disney animation movies Frozen (2013) and Frozen II (2019) over and over again with my now five-year-old daughter, I became enchanted by the way the movies combined classical fairy tale narrative and Disney-like fantasy world with parts inspired by real life milieus and elements. Therefore, as an outcome of my interpretation, my article discusses the fantastic worldbuilding on the levels of both text and vision. I am interested on the central 19th century pseudo-Norwegian milieu of Arendelle, but also the magical milieus of the Enchanted Forest, where the fictive indigenous people of Northuldra tribe live in Frozen II, and the far north dangerous milieu of Ahtohallan. I am discussing on for example the names on the movies, the possible real-life connection between Northern countries and the movies, and generally on the high fantasy world that the movies portray.


Frozen and Frozen II are two extremely successful animated movies that take place in a fantasy world. The world of the movies has connections to traditions of fairy stories and fantasy, and to the geography of the actual Nordic countries, but also to the livelihood of the real-world indigenous Sámi people. In particular, Frozen II was conscious and appreciative of dealing with the real-world connections to Sámi culture. This article discusses the worldbuilding of the films from the point of view of fantastic milieus and surroundings. In focus here is the central milieu of Arendelle, the Enchanted Forest inhabited by the indigenous people of the north, and the mythical Ahtohallan; the “ultima thule”, the farthest northern location of the fantasy world. In the movies, the 19th century Nordic milieu of Arendelle is placed in contrast to their neighbouring tribe of Northuldra, which represents a Sámi sort of way of living. In focus here also is the textual part of the worldbuilding. For example, both movies were credited as being inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale “The Snow Queen” (“Snedronningen”, 1844). The central theme of both Frozen movies is the bond between two sisters, Elsa and Anna, who are princesses and later queens of the kingdom of Arendelle. The fantasy milieus are located outside the city of Arendelle, which is a more realistic place, but the magic inside the city originates from Elsa, the elder sister, who has magical powers. She is able to utilise cold and ice in similar ways to Andersen’s title character of the Snow Queen, or the White Witch, Jadis, in C. S. Lewis’s Narnia series; another character inspired by Andersen’s Snow Queen.

This chapter discusses how fantastical milieus, references, and elements deriving from the livelihood of the Sámi people are central to the worldbuilding and the creation of the fictional world, in the Frozen franchise.

Dr. Jyrki Korpua, Ph.D in Literary studies. Lecturer and researcher at the University of Oulu, Finland. His research interests include fantasy and science fiction, worldbuilding, classical mythologies, J. R. R. Tolkien’s fiction, Kalevala, Bible studies, utopian and dystopian fiction, graphic novels, and game studies. At the moment he is working on the international Tove Jansson Companion project funded by Kone Foundation.

Worlds Apart: Worldbuilding in Fantasy and Science Fiction

is now in pre-order!


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