Fan Theory Digest: Did Anna Die Years Before Frozen Began?
Frozen is a touching tale of sisterly love, as royal siblings Anna and Elsa of Arendelle stuck together and helped each other overcome the many tough struggles they faced...or is it? What if there was more to the story than meets the eye? Is it possible that this was really a story of the tragic and lonely life of Elsa, and that Anna was dead the whole time?
Let's start by going back to the very beginning, when Anna and Elsa were playing while they were supposed to be sleeping. Everything was going fine until Elsa accidentally pasted Anna in the face with ice magic and knocked her out. Their parents panicked, and brought Anna to be saved by the trolls...or so we thought.
What if the trolls weren't able to save Anna? What if she died that night, and none of the things we saw Anna doing as they grew up were real, but were instead regretful fantasies imagined by Elsa? Is it possible that we never saw Elsa open that door because there really wasn't anyone on the other side?
Elsa would have undoubtedly felt personally responsible for what happened to Anna. After losing her parents as well several years later, she could have been suffering from both PTSD and the effects of the extreme isolation that had been imposed on her by first her parents, then herself.
Speaking of her parents, while they did unknowingly contribute to the problem by locking Elsa away, they had different motivations for doing so than were apparent from simply watching the movie. Yes, part of it was that they were worried about what would happen if the kingdom knew Elsa could use ice magic, but there was more to it than that.
In covering up Elsa's magical abilities, they would have also had to cover up Anna's death. They wouldn't have been able to bring Elsa out in public, because doing so would raise questions about why Anna was never with them, which in turn could eventually lead to the truth about Elsa getting out.
All this would have resulted in the severe social and emotional stunting of Princess Elsa, which would have gotten even worse once her parents were no longer there to help manage it. She would have had nothing to cling to in her mind other than memories of her dead family, and the experiences she never got to have with them.
So how could Anna have been such an active part of the movie if she had been dead all this time, you might ask? Surely Elsa, Hans, Kristof, Olaf and everyone else weren’t talking to thin air, right? They weren’t, but that also wasn't really Anna they were talking to: it was a magical ice being that Elsa created, brought to life, and made to look like an adult version of her dead sister.
That's not such a farfetched idea, because after all, we've already seen that this is something Elsa's magic can do. We know she created both Olaf and Marshmallow, so what if "Anna" was actually the first being Elsa created before the other two, and we never realized it because we didn't see it happen on screen?
The same way she gave Olaf and Marshmallow sentience and distinct personalities, Elsa could have used all those fantasies she had as a child to infuse "Anna" with memories of the childhood she never really had. Along with legitimate memories Elsa had of the real Anna, the fantasies would have helped Elsa fill in the gaps that would have existed in “Anna’s” mind during the years after the real Anna died.
Using those memories and fantasies as the basis for “Anna’s” personality would also explain the childish behavior that she displays. Elsa never got to know Anna as an adult. In Elsa's mind, Anna is forever the small girl she killed so long ago, and that child’s personality was literally all Elsa had to go on when “programming” the clone.
"Anna" would be completely oblivious to all this, of course. Everything that Elsa had imagined would have been real to her, even though she never actually experienced any of it. In fact, Elsa could have even spent all those years freely roaming the castle, but programmed "Anna" to believe that she had locked herself away in that room to explain why she had so few memories of them interacting.
So why would Elsa have created this...thing? Two reasons, and the first is obvious: she badly missed Anna, and spent years tormenting herself for what she had done to her. Once she realized she could create living beings with her magic, who else could she have possibly wanted to try it with before Anna?
The other, more complicated reason is that Coronation Day was coming up, and since her parents had never told anyone that Anna died, people would have noticed if the new Queen's younger sister wasn't there. Elsa had no desire to start answering questions, so the creation of "Anna" was also done as a matter of convenience.
In fact, the evidence seems to point to the strong possibility that “Anna” was very, very newly created by the time we get to the “present day” part of the movie, possibly even awakening for the first time on Coronation Day. She wouldn't have known they had 8,000 salad plates because that was the first time she had ever walked around the palace.
All of this would explain a lot about Elsa’s awkward behavior toward her “sister” during the coronation. It would have been unavoidable because, after all the thousands of times she had replayed Anna’s death over and over in her mind, here she was was standing next to, for all intents and purposes, her sister who had been dead for over a decade.
It would also explain why Elsa was dead-set against "Anna" marrying Hans: It's not that she didn't want "Anna" to be happy, or because she didn't trust Hans. It was because she was the only one who knew what "Anna" really was, and that “Anna” would not only never be able to have a normal relationship with anyone, but even allowing her contact with the general public was a major risk.
If the creation of “Anna” was something that only came about in the days immediately before Coronation Day, then Elsa may not have had a plan for what to do with her once the coronation was in the books. If Elsa did it on an impulse and hadn’t had time to think this all the way out, then she may not have considered how “Anna’s” free will could complicate matters, much less the introduction of an outside element like Hans into the mix.
So by trying to cover up what had already happened by creating the clone of Anna, Elsa had inadvertently dug herself in even deeper. “Anna” was a walking liability in this increasingly complex cover-up, and if Hans were to marry her and discover her true nature, then the rest of the truth was at risk of spilling right out as well.
The Downward Spiral
This all led to the situation spiraling completely out of control, and since Elsa was already in a very fragile state of mind after her traumatic childhood and long-term isolation, losing her handle on “Anna” was the breaking point that caused her to flip out and disappear into the mountains. What Elsa didn't count on was "Anna" taking chase...without bundling up to any great degree despite the fact that she was running right into a blizzard-covered mountain, by the way.
Like many sentient magical creations, "Anna" eventually found her way back to her creator, carefully avoiding Oaken's sauna on the way. Elsa was scared to death of her, and the reason she wanted "Anna" to leave so badly had nothing to do with shutting herself off from the world again, but because she simply didn't want to be haunted by a doppleganger of her sister for the rest of her life.
That's why she had no problem sending Marshmallow after her. It would seem strange that Elsa would have had such a dangerous monster chase her sister off like that...unless she didn't care if Marshmallow destroyed her since “Anna” wasn't really Elsa's sister to begin with.
This brings us to the end when "Anna" literally turned to ice, but not because of anything wrong with her human heart...she didn't have one. She was a being made of ice, and what we saw was "Anna" reverting back to her natural form to protect her creator from an assailant.
Elsa's love did "bring her back to life" so to speak, but underneath the smiling visage of her younger sister was the same ice creature that had always been there. Elsa let her live happily ever after without ever telling her what she really is (and isn't).