Frozen, Disney’s animated adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale The Snow Queen, is the surprise hit of the season, nominated for two Oscars and closing in on $800 million dollars at the global box office.
But how do you bring a movie that depends heavily on its music to an international audience? The translation and localization challenges are fascinating and unique. Last week, the L.A. Times profiled the work of Rick Dempsey, the man responsible for internationalizing Disney’s films.
Mimicking the tone of voice, words, and lip movements of Broadway star Idina Menzel and her character Elsa was no small feat: in the end, Dempsey relied on the talents of local stars such as Japanese actress and pop singer Takako Matsu and Moscow jazz vocalist Anna Buturlina.
Fortunately, you won’t have to travel the world and buy a stack of movie tickets to see the results for yourself. Disney uploaded a version of the Oscar-nominated song from Frozen, “Let It Go”, that unites all 41 different language versions in one video clip. Each singer fits perfectly into the whole while retaining their own local character — a marvelous testament to the power of thoughtful internationalization.