Streaming Friday on Disney+ is “Myth: A Frozen Tale.” Branching off of the lore built in “Frozen 2,” “Myth” is an eight minute short directed by Jeff Gipson, whose first short “Cycles” was featured in last year’s Short Circuit Series of shorts. Originally released as a VR experience for Oculus, “Myth” was reimagined with production designer Brittney Lee to capture the studio’s rich tradition of 2-D animation. While the VR edition intended to evoke the immersive experience of Disneyland, this adaptation aims to draw on the audio-visual nostalgia of “Fantasia” and other early animated films.
There is little dialogue in the short, which begins with children returning home in a forest outside of Arendelle where their mother (Evan Rachel Wood, who also voice Queen Iduna in “Frozen 2”) tells them a bedtime story. The myth tells of four elemental spirits, familiar from “Frozen 2”: “Nokk (a water spirit in the form of a mighty stallion), Gale (the playful wind spirit who can manifest as a light breeze or a raging tornado-like force), the Earth Giants (the massive creatures that form the rocky riverbanks and are capable of intense destruction when awakened), and the Fire Spirit (a fast-moving and mercurial salamander named Bruni).” Each spirit’s influence on the world is showcased in tandem with the Human Spirit, before they are fractured when the Human Spirit falls out of harmony with the others.
“Myth: A Frozen Tale” is beautifully animated and stylistically very interesting. The aesthetic of each of the elements is is unique from each other so the view can easily follow the story, but flow smoothly into each other without feeling like a series of vignettes. While the Fire Spirit and Water Spirit are animated as silhouettes that guide the viewer through the short, the Earth Giants are drawn as elaborate paper cuts that speak to both the 2-D inspiration and the forced perspective set pieces seen in Disney theme parks. This short acts as a folklore predecessor to “Frozen 2” and the familiar characters will draw in younger viewers who might not normally be engaged by the abstract format. Ironically, given that “Myth” is about a human spirit falling out of harmony with the others, the one element of the short that did not land was the score. The music of “Frozen” is so distinct, especially the soundtrack of the sequel that inspired this short. The music of “Myth” instead is a drum heavy pop-rock that just does not fit with the ancient lore of the short.