Disney’s ‘Frozen’ Animator Draws Heat for Female Character Comments

“They have to go through these range of emotions … and you have to keep them pretty,” says Lino DiSalvo

Disney Animation supervisor Lino DiSalvo is in some hot water over comments he made about creating the female characters in “Frozen,” the studio’s upcoming cartoon musical.

“Historically speaking, animating female characters are really, really difficult, ’cause they have to go through these range of emotions, but they’re very, very – you have to keep them pretty and they’re very sensitive to – you can get them off a model very quickly,” he said.

His point, made during an interview with Fanvoice, was that it was harder to make the movie because animating women was trickier.

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“Having a film with two hero female characters was really tough, and having them both in the same scene and look very different if they’re echoing the same expression; that Elsa looking angry looks different from Anna being angry,” he said.

In the film, Idina Menzel voices Elsa and Kristen Bell is Anna.

The comments have drawn negative reactions on the web, most taking DiSalvo to task for propagating unrealistic expectations for women to youngsters.

“It’s not that animating female characters experiencing emotions is a hard job, it’s that it’s hard to do when you’re focusing on keeping them looking pretty and perfect 100 percent of the time, which no one is capable of doing because it’s impossible,” wrote Tanya Ghahremani of ComplexPopCulture.

Disney on Thursday took exception to the characterization of DiSalvo’s comments.

“Animation is an intricate and complex art form,” a Disney spokesman told TheWrap. “These comments were recklessly taken out of context. As part of a roundtable discussion, the animator was describing some technical aspects of CG animation and not making a general comment on animating females versus males or other characters.”

Disney has high hopes for “Frozen,” which is opening on Nov. 27, the day before Thanksgiving. Long-range projections have it opening north of $35 million and taking in $170 million domestically.

Thanksgiving has been the launching pad for a couple of Disney films with female characters front and center, 2010’s “Tangled” and 2012’s “Brave.”