I remember that this story used to freak me out. Actually, I don’t remember much of what happens, but I know that it freaked me out as a child. Don’t know why. Let’s go see what it’s about.
The tale is parted into seven parts, the first is sort of the set-up: The devil creates a glass. If you look through it, everything that is bad will be very prominent, while you won’t be able to see the good things. The devil has a school, too, (which, okay? Weird.) and his devilish students have this crazy idea to take the glass up to Heaven, to, I don’t know, freak the angels out a bit. Unfortunately, they’re not very good at carrying and let the glass slip, causing it to splinter as it hits the earth again. The splinters distribute all over the world, settling in people’s eyes and hearts, making them only see the bad and grow cold. I get it. It’s social criticism.
We then cut to the main action. In a big city live two children. Gerda and Kai. They’re next door neighbours and share affection for flowers and the like. They’re extremely good friends, and the tale says that they love each other almost as much as if they were brother and sister. Anyway, Kai’s grandmother likes to tell spooky stories, so one night she tells the children about the Snow Queen, who travels through the world, making it cold or something. It’s actually winter, so the next day, Kai looks out the window to watch the snow flakes and what does he see? Snow Queen, of course, no big surprise there.
Gerda and Kai create their own little flower garden, where they plant roses, which is totes important. Especially since Gerda sings that beautiful little song:
Roses bloom and cease to be, but we shall the Christ-child see.
It’s a bad rhyme, but I still think that established Gerda as the good guy of the story.
Unfortunately for them, the pieces of glass are still floating around and settle in poor Kai’s eyes and heart. So Kai pretty much becomes a jackass; making fun of people, destroying the garden and being really horrible to poor Gerda.
One day, he goes out with his sledge and then ties it to a passing sleigh carriage for reasons. There’s only one person who’s carriage it could be, right? The Snow Queen makes Kai sit with her in the carriage and kisses him, which makes him grow even colder and forget all about Gerda, and his grandmother, and pretty much everything else.
We cut back to Gerda the following year, who is still waiting for Kai. Everybody believes the boy to be dead, but Gerda refuses to accept that and sets off to find him. She comes to a river where people believe Kai to have drowned and she offers her new shoes if the river gives the boy back. The shoes get floated back to her, so she thinks: “Okay, good, obviously he hasn’t drowned.” Fine, then, Gerda. She climbs into a boat to throw the shoes in again (again, reasons) and accidently sets it off like this. At first, she’s all: “Shit, can’t swim. I’m going to die.” But then she realizes that everything around her is really beautiful, so she cheers up instantly. STILL GOING TO DIE, THOUGH!
Anyway, she gets rescued by a witch, who at first seems really nice, but as it turns out, isn’t really that nice. She wants Gerda to stay forever and makes her forget all about Kai and her search. So that Gerda doesn’t remember it, she removes all roses from her garden. Luckily for Gerda, the witch forgot something – namely the rose she has on her flower-covered hat.
Quick round of applause for this intellectual masterpiece, witch.
Gerda walks out into the garden and asks all the flowers about Kai, but they all tell her that they don’t know anything about the boy. After an additional 1000 words about what the flowers say, Gerda, too, comes to the conclusion that she’s wasting time and sets off again, to find that it’s already autumn. OKAY.
Next, Gerda meets a crow who tells her about the marriage of the princess and as it describes the prince, Gerda figures that it must be Kai. So the two of them set off for the palace. Gerda sneaks in to – IDK, creepily stare at Kai while he’s sleeping? Edward-esque, I must say. She realizes that it isn’t Kai at all and starts sobbing so both the prince and the princess wake up. Fortunately for the girl, they don’t go, “WTF are you doing staring at us while we sleep?” but are rather understanding and offer her a carriage so she doesn’t have to walk anymore.
Not so fortunately, she gets captured by robbers. The mother wants to kill and eat Gerda (dafuq?) but her daughter wants the girl to herself – not to eat her, but as a friend. She takes Gerda to the robber’s castle and introduces Gerda to her doves. These doves have seen Kai in the Snow Queen’s sledge. The robber girl decides to help Gerda and tells her pet-reindeer to take Gerda up to Lapland, where the Snow Queen’s castle is.
They make a stop at the home of a Lapp woman, who just basically says that she doesn’t know anything and sends them off to a Finn woman. That woman figures out what happened to Kai – namely, the pieces of glass. The woman says that she can Gerda no extra-power, because she’s already got innocence and purity and that will totally be enough to defeat a super strong Snow Queen.
We cut to Kai, who is blue with the cold by now. His task is to from the word “eternity” and if he manages to do so, the Snow Queen will set him free. She then leaves, to cause some mayhem elsewhere, and leaves the boy to it. Kai can’t form the word, though. What I figure is that he is really bad at Scrabble. Gerda burst in and Kai is legitimately perplexed. She sings the song again:
Roses bloom and cease to be, but we shall the Christ-child see.
Either Kai thinks it’s really beautiful (which I doubt) or (more likely) he cries because of the bad rhyming; either way, he starts crying and thus the piece of glass falls from his eye. He instantly recognizes Gerda and his wrongs. They form the word and then set off for home. I expected an epic battle of some sort, but unfortunately for me, it never comes.
The meet the robber girl who left her home. She tells them that the prince and princess are gone to foreign countries, and that the crow is dead. Andersen had to keep some death toll in his tales, I guess. They set off again and reach their home to find that they have indeed grown up! Also, they’re still children at heart, so they shall enter the kingdom of God. They just threw the Bible verse in there, guys, I don’t know why.
So, I wonder what really freaked me out about this. Doesn’t particularly seem scary. Maybe it was being kept alone in an ice-cold castle? Or nearly being eaten by robber moms? Or, maybe that glass-piece in the heart? I don’t know guys. I don’t know.
You can read the original version by Hans Christian Andersen here. Have yourself a lovely day J