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The story begins with a tale of an evil troll, actually The Devil himself, making a magic mirror that has the power to distort the appearance of things reflected in it. It fails to reflect all the good and beautiful aspects of people and things while it magnifies all the bad and ugly aspects so that they look even worse than they really are. While attempting to carry the mirror into heaven with the idea of making fools of the angels and God, it slips from the troll's grasp and falls back to earth where it shatters into billions of pieces — some no larger than a grain of sand. These splinters are blown around and get into people's hearts and eyes, making them only see the bad and ugly in people and things.
Years later, a little boy, Kai, and a little girl, Gerda, live next door to each other in a large city. Their grandmother tells them of the legendary Snow Queen, ruler of bee-like creatures made of snow. Shortly thereafter, Kai is struck by the shards in the heart and eye. Later he runs afoul of the Snow Queen, who causes him to forget everything and takes him back to her castle. Once Gerda learns of this, she sets out to find him - not an easy task.
Many movie adaptations and pop culture references have been made in honor of this work, one of them a Soviet Russian animated movie, which made Hayao Miyazaki believe that working in animation was worth it after all. Disney has their own version in the works, apparently titled Frozen, following the lead of Tangled. The Snow Queen is also the antagonist of the third installment of the Dark Parables PC game series. And Joan D. Vinge adapted it into a Hugo-winning science-fantasy novel in 1980.
Tropes associated with this work:
- Accentuate the Negative: People who get a shard of the magic mirror in their eye or heart do this Up to Eleven.
- An Ice Person
- Animated Adaptation: A Russian version made in 1957, for one, which actually received 2 different English dubs. There is also an anime adaptation. Also the Queen Nehellenia arc in Sailor Moon is based on "The Snow Queen".
- Antagonist Title
- Automaton Horse: Sadly averted with Gerda's poor reindeer.
- Coming of Age Story
- Dark Is Not Evil: One cinematic adaptation had the demon/troll/whatever that created the mirror doing so in order to show mankind how rotten it is, and heavily regreted having created it when it broke. Also, Faerie Tale Theatre's version implied that the Snow Queen took Kay to give him the opportunity to save him from himself. She also takes care of that troll at the end...
- Deadpan Snarker: The talking polar bear in the Bridget Fonda version has his moments of this.
- Determinator: Gerda
- Distressed Dude
- Earn Your Happy Ending
- Engagement Challenge: The princess' search for an intelligent husband.
- Evil Is Deathly Cold
- Eye Scream: It's not played for Squick, but the story does start with a little boy getting a shard of mirror in his eye.
- Friend to All Living Things: Gerda.
- God Save Us From the Queen
- Green Thumb: Gerda can talk to plants as easily as animals, although flowers don't have much worthwhile to say.
- Grim Up North
- Hair of Gold: Both Kai and Gerda; becomes important when Gerda wonders if a golden-haired boy she hears about who just became engaged to a princess could be Kai.
- Happily Ever After
- Heart Trauma
- Humanoid Abomination: the Queen
- The Hero's Journey
- Ice Palace: Of course a Winter Royal Lady has to own one.
- Identity Amnesia: The Snow Queen makes Kai forget his home and family; Gerda runs into a sorceress on her quest who does the same to her for awhile.
- I Love You Because I Can't Control You: Gerda meets a princess whose choice in husband resembles this trope.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Possibly the Robber Girl
- Kiss of Death: The Snow Queen herself can kill with three kisses; the first two just mess with your head.
- Magic Mirror
- The Messiah: Gerda
- Mistaken Identity: Gerda initially thinks the Prince is Kai.
- No Name Given: Many -- the Princess, the Prince, the Robber Girl...
- Plucky Girl
- The Power of Love
- Ravens and Crows
- Rescue Romance:
- Something About a Rose
- Speaks Fluent Animal: Gerda.
- Swiss Army Tears
- The Vamp: The Snow Queen; which makes her one of the few (presumably) non-sexual vamps.
- Walking the Earth: Only the coldest parts of it, that is.
- Winter Royal Lady
- Year Outside, Hour Inside: In the old woman's garden.