How Anna and Elsa's Relationship Has Changed in 'Frozen 2'

Walt Disney Animation Studios

Enchanted forests and magical beings await Anna (Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel) as they embark on their next adventure in Frozen 2, coming to theaters Nov. 22. Three years have passed since the events of the 2013 original, and Elsa is trying to settle into her role as the Queen of Arendelle while her little sister is soaking up every moment with the family they've has built along with Olaf (Josh Gad) and Kristoff (Jonathan Groff). While the original Frozen focuses on these two sisters reuniting after an emotional and physical separation, Bustle learned during a press day at Walt Disney Animation Studios that Frozen 2 is a deep dive into Anna and Elsa’s relationship. On an epic journey, they're challenged to uncover the past. Their support for each other, however, is now unshakeable.

“[Elsa and Anna] have had time to bond as a family,” Director of Story, Mark Smith, tells Bustle. “So much of their young lives they lived apart, so they have a lot of catching up to do. Coming into this film, they are closer than they ever were.”

New footage revealed to journalists in early September shows a new side of Anna and Elsa. They have raucous family charade nights and cuddle up together before bed — it's a state of domestic bliss until Elsa reveals that something has been tugging on her conscience lately. A mysterious voice has been calling her into the unknown and she can't ignore it anymore. With the city of Arendelle in danger, the sisters embark on a mission to find out where exactly Elsa's powers came from and what answers might be buried in their past.

During a press conference, co-writer and co-director Jennifer Lee explained how the filmmakers spent months journaling as each character to really find the heart of where Anna and Elsa are with themselves, each other, and this new life they have in Arendelle. Head of Story Normand Lemay confirmed that Anna and Elsa are 21 and 24 respectively in the sequel, so they're both young women still trying to find their place in the world.

“We write very complex, real, messy characters, and Anna and Elsa are certainly that,” Lee says. ‘They lead with their passion and emotion, and they struggle like all of us.”

In Frozen 2, Elsa is worried that she is not built for a quiet life of leadership, and Anna is concerned for her sister and the future of their chosen family. The younger sister remains optimistic, it's clear that the stakes are higher now than ever before for her. In the first film, it's always Anna leading the charge, however, there's a hesitation to her in the preview footage. Anna doesn't want to risk this new life.

“[In Frozen,] Anna had nothing to lose. She was fearless in finding her sister,” says co-director Chris Buck. “But now she has got everybody, and she has everything to lose.”

Walt Disney Animation Studios

Even with Anna's new fears, there's a tenderness between Anna and Elsa — something it looks like they may have inherited from their mother Iduna, voiced by Evan Rachel Wood. Frozen 2 is fans' first glimpse at the intimacies of their relationship, including much-needed hugs, the pep talks, and laughter. One of the most touching scenes screened for press shows their mother singing the girls a soothing lullaby. The tune returns when Anna sings it to Elsa in the present day, after noticing that something seems to be weighing down on her.

The highly-anticipated Disney sequel is set in the world of fairy tales and wind spirits, but its themes are rooted deeply in reality and the real work that goes its relationships. In many ways, Anna and Elsa encapsulate the struggle of being in your early 20s, including the rather complicated business of venturing out into uncharted territory for the first time.

"It was a big theme really early on," confirms Smith. "They are at that sort of pivotal age of going into the world, going into the unknown, but how do you know which is the right choice? How do you fit in?"

Walt Disney Animation Studios

Those are the questions the sisters are asking themselves as they step into the forest, unsure of what they might find. In Arendelle, Elsa feels restless and unsure that being Queen is her true calling (and of course sings about it in a song aptly titled "Into the Unknown"). Anna, on the other hand, can’t help but try to hold onto the comfort of the life she has gotten used to and the sister she has only just now gotten to know. But through all the ups and downs of their adventure, Anna and Elsa remain fiercely protective of one another. Their bond is special, but it is also one that most audience members will be able to recognize in their own lives.

“These are sisters who put each other first, they try to do the best for each other,” says Lee. “A lot of us with siblings know there is something so deep in the core of ‘I’ll do anything for you...even if we fight over clothes.’”