I’m really excited to finally be doing this post! “Let it Go” / “Lass jetzt los” [Letting Go Now] from FROZEN is pretty drop-dead awesome. I’ve always thought it was pretty awesome how Idina Menzel who originated Elphaba on Broadway voiced Elsa and how Willemijn Verkaik, who originated Elphaba in Germany voiced Elsa for the German dub! Anyways, here’s the analysis!
“The snow glows white on the mountain tonight Not a footprint to be seen A kingdom of isolation, And it looks like I’m the queen.”
So, we get some nice lyrics speaking to the setting. I don’t really know what more there is to say here except for the fact that Elsa describes a very isolated area and well… maybe that’s why she finally feels free. Because she doesn’t have to hide anymore.
“Der Schnee glänzt weiß auf dem Bergen heut Nacht, keine Spuren sind zu sehen. Ein einsames Königreich, und ich bin die Königin.” [The snow shines white on the mountains tonight, No traces are visible. A lonely kingdom, and I am the queen.]
In the German version, we also get some setting lyrics. And both really talks about the isolated nature of the place Elsa has fled to. However, I think that the contrast between the words “isolation” and “einsames” [lonely] is kind of interesting.
“The wind is howling like this swirling storm inside Couldn’t keep it in, heaven knows I tried!”
Here, we just get some insight into how much of a struggle it must’ve been for Elsa to hold back her true self from everyone, including her own sister. And well… that’s why Elsa knows that she’s free here. Sure, there’s no one around, but that’s why it’s good. There’s no one to hide her powers from. For the first time in years she can finally truly, fully be herself.
“Der Wind, er heult so wie der Sturm ganz tief in mir. Mich zu kontrollieren, ich hab’ es versucht.” [The wind howls like the storm deep inside me. I’ve tried to control myself.]
This stanza, in the German version, sets up what goes down in the next sentence. The “Mich zu kontrollieren, ich hab’ es versucht.” [I’ve tried to control myself] speaks to how she’s been taught her whole life to fear these powers that she possesses and to view them as a bad, evil thing.
“Don’t let them in, don’t let them see Be the good girl you always have to be Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know Well, now they know!”
In this stanza, we see Elsa reflecting on all of the warnings given to her as a child but she realizes that it’s so much easier, so much better to be free, with everyone knowing even though they despise and fear her.
“Lass sie nicht rein! Lass sie nicht sehen wie du bist. Nein! Das darf niemals geschehen. Du darfst nichts fühlen, zeig ihnen nicht dein wahres ich!” [Do not let them in! Do not let them see you. No! This must never happen. You must not feel anything, Do not show them your true self.]
From the German version, we don’t quite get that realization of freedom. But instead, we almost can assume that there’s resentment here (if you want to read it that way). I mean, “You must not feel anything”? That’s horrible! That’s not something that anyone should ever be told… And what makes this stanza more heartbreaking in the German version really comes from the fact that in the German version, it’s not just her powers that she’s told to hide, but herself. As if she were some sort of disappointment or something. And while I don’t think that’s how her parents viewed her at all, I think that perhaps, it’s very plausible that Elsa might have felt that way about herself or even thought that her parents thought that about her.
“Let it go, let it go Can’t hold it back anymore Let it go, let it go Turn away and slam the door!”
Here, we just see Elsa’s realization that she is tired of hiding who she is from everyone and being ashamed of it. She’s tired of having to think of her powers as something bad. And while some might think that Elsa’s letting go of her belief that she needs to conceal her powers, I believe that she’s also letting go of the thoughts of her powers of being evil as well as everything anyone’s ever told her about her powers.
“Ich lass los, lass jetzt los. Die Kraft sie ist grenzenlos. Ich lass los, lass jetzt los. Und ich schlag die Türen zu.” [I’m letting go, letting go now. The power is limitless. I’m letting go, letting go now. And I shut the doors.]
As I’m thinking ahead towards future stanzas, I realize that the “shutting of the door” / “schlag die Türen” speaks of the closing of herself off from her past life and from everyone in that past life.
“I don’t care What they’re going to say Let the storm rage on, The cold never bothered me anyway!”
And as we come to this stanza, we see that Elsa’s given up on trying to please everyone. She’s tired of having to pretend to be someone that she’s not so that she can make other people happy. And well, now that she sees that she’s alone, she sees nothing wrong with just letting this storm rage on. She just is glad to be free and the storm is a sort of expression of that freedom.
“Es ist Zeit, nun bin ich bereit! Und ein Sturm zieht auf. Die Kälte, sie ist nun ein Teil von mir.” [It’s time, now I am ready! And a storm is coming. The cold is now a part of me.]
I think it’s interesting that in the German version, Elsa addresses the idea of time. I don’t know what it is but it just makes me think that throughout her time being locked up in her room all alone, she might’ve thought of running away and being free but now she’s finally ready. Because the time had come.
“It’s funny how some distance Makes everything seem small And the fears that once controlled me Can’t get to me at all!”
And here, we get that addressing of the letting go of fear that I brought up earlier. But beyond just the fear, there’s also the fact that now she’s letting go of all of those things that she was told to conceal as a child. She’s letting go of all of those things that her parents had tried to engrave into her mind—that fear that they instilled inside of her.
“Es ist schon eigenartig, wie klein jetzt alles scheint. Und die Ängste die in mir waren, kommen nicht mehr an mich ran.” [It’s strange how small everything now seems. And the fears that were in me, Cannot get to me anymore.]
I think that it’s interesting here that Elsa views everything so small now—perhaps she saw everything as big and daunting before. After all, she spent so much time locked up in a room, horrified of the potential havoc she could wreak on the world.
“It’s time to see what I can do To test the limits and break through No right, no wrong, no rules for me I’m free!”
Here, we see a little more of the rebellious side to Elsa. Teens are notorious for being rebellious—at least stereotypically (but let’s all admit that there’s some truth to that stereotype). And well, having spent most of her teenage years in a room, all by herself, cowering in submission, she must’ve thought a lot about rebellion but was probably too afraid to actually see it through. However, recall what the German version brought up earlier: “Es ist Zeit, nun bin ich bereit!” [It is time, now I’m ready! She must’ve thought about running away, of being rebellious for a really long time but it was never time. She was never ready. Until this moment.
“Was ich wohl alles machen kann. Die Kraft in mir treibt mich voran. Was hinter mir liegt ist vorbei, endlich frei!” [I can do practically anything. The power within me pushes me forward. What is behind me is over, [and I’m] finally free!]
Elsa’s enthralled with her powers here and she’s seeing the beauty in it instead of seeing the terrible pain it could potentially bring about. We also know that she has no intention of going back, nor does she want to. She sees her freedom being a matter of being alone and being able to use her powers freely. She sees going back as allowing herself to be shackled up (which she is, when Han brings her back).
“Let it go, let it go I am one with the wind and sky Let it go, let it go You’ll never see me cry!”
Here, I think that we just see more of Elsa’s lack of regret. She doesn’t regret running away, she doesn’t regret isolating herself. She won’t cry because she’s happy. She’s content. And she won’t go back.
“Ich lass los, lass jetzt los. Nun bin ich endlich soweit! Ich lass los, lass jetzt los. Doch Tränen seht ihr nicht!” [I’m letting go, letting go now. Now I’m finally ready! I’m letting go, letting go now. And you cannot see tears!]
There’s really not too much more to say about this stanza in the German version though Elsa does reiterate the fact that she’s ready for this change. She’s ready for this freedom for which she has longed for over so many years.
“Here I stand And here I’ll stay Let the storm rage on!”
Just a little bit more of Elsa’s lack of desire to leave this place. As I’ve mentioned before, she sees the storm as her feeling of being free and alive. I’ve noticed that amongst characters who have spent so much time being suppressed and/or in bondage generally see chaos—and in this case storms—to be tied to a sense of freedom and life. And for Elsa, it’d be easy to understand why. After all, she’s spent so much of her life in bondage. She’s spent so many years locked up, with no option but orderliness.
“Hier bin ich, und bleibe hier! Und ein Sturm zieht auf.” [Here I am, and I’m staying here! And a storm is coming.]
Here, we practically have a spotless translation from English to German so I’m not going to add any more analysis here!
“My power flurries through the air into the ground My soul is spiraling in frozen fractals all around And one thought crystallizes like an icy blast I’m never going back, The past is in the past!”
We see more of Elsa’s newfound love of her powers. In contrast though, we’re reminded that back in Arendell (Is that spelt right? I’m not sure…) people don’t see her powers in the same way that she does. It’s the whole reason why she has to run away. It’s the whole reason why she feels despised and rejected back at home.
“Ich spüre diese Kraft, sie ist ein Teil von mir. Sie fließt in meine Seele und in all die Schönheit hier. Nur ein Gedanke und die Welt wird ganz aus Eis. Ich geh nie mehr zurück, das ist Vergangenheit!” [I feel this power, that is a part of me. It flows into my soul and all the beauty here. Just a thought and the world will be completely turn to ice. I never go back, that’s past!]
I know that some of my German-speaking friends really dislike the use of “sie ist ein Teil von mir” [that is a part of me] so many times but I really like it. It definitely highlights the fact that it’s not just her powers that people hate, it’s her because her powers are a part of her. And well… that’s one of the reasons why she loves being away from Arendell and free.
“Let it go, let it go And I’ll rise like the break of dawn Let it go, let it go That perfect girl is gone Here I stand In the light of day Let the storm rage on!”
For so many years she had to temper herself, she had to be perfect, fearing that one misstep could ruin not only her own reputation but her family’s reputation as a whole. And I think that this only backs my thoughts on the whole storm thing, in which I spoke about the storm being an embodiment / personification of her newfound freedom.
“Ich bin frei, endlich frei. Und fühl mich wie neu geboren. Ich bin frei, endlich frei. Was war ist jetzt vorbei. Hier bin ich, in dem hellem Licht. Und ein Sturm zieht auf.” [I’m free, finally free! And I feel like a newborn. I’m free, finally free! What was then is over now. Here I am, in the bright light. And a storm is coming.]
So, personally, I think that this stanza is really, really great in German. Here, they could have continued to use “Ich lass los, lass jetzt los” [I’m letting go, letting go now] but instead they use “Ich bin frei, endlich frei” [I’m free, finally free]. She feels like a newborn because, for the first time in well… forever, Elsa’s finally able to truly live her life.
“The cold never bothered me anyway!”
I think that saying “the cold never bothered me anyway” really symbolizes her contentment where she is and with who she is. But beyond just speaking about the cold, I think that Elsa’s talking about her powers. Her powers never bothered her, although they always bothered everyone else.
“Die Kälte sie ist nun ein Teil von mir.” [The cold is now a part of me.]
Much the same as with the English version, the cold is now a part of her because her powers are now a part of her!
Whew! That was a lot of fun. I wasn’t expecting so much analysis to come out of this song but there was definitely a lot! Anyways, guys, any other songs that I should translate and analyze? I might do more Disney stuff but I’m open to all sorts of suggestions. I was kinda thinking of doing “Tears to Shed” from THE CORPSE BRIDE. Would that be something you all are interested in? Please let me know! Vielen dank und tschüss!