The Disney movie Frozen has been on a loop at my house in one way or another. We own the DVD, we own it on Kindle video, we own the soundtrack, and frankly, my girls don’t really need any of these to reproduce the movie…in its entirety…with their own voices and theatrics. It is entirely possible I’m going a little crazy here, but having been immersed in this story, I’m amazed at the depth.
The story is loosely based on The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Anderson, and can I just say something crazy? For the first time in forever a movie has actually improved upon the original story. I fiercely apologize as typically I am a literary purist, but I love what the writers at Disney did with this story. To be completely fair to Hans Christian Anderson, they didn’t really improve the original story. It would be more accurate to say they borrowed a few characters and wrote an entirely new story.
In The Snow Queen, a shattered evil mirror pierces Kay’s heart and eye. It causes him to see things in an ugly way and freezes his heart. The main idea being that evil has entered him and he cannot respond to the world in any other way. He hitches a ride with the Snow Queen and is taken to her mountain. His childhood friend, Gerda, sets off in search of him. Many people and animals help her along the way until she appears at the castle of the Snow Queen. The queen had given Kay a puzzle to solve that once solved promised him eternity. As Gerda’s tears thaw his frozen heart, and as his tears mixed with hers clears the shard from his eye, the puzzle is solved and they are granted eternal life.
A deep story in its own rite, the theme of both have similarities. In fact most stories that resonate with us share a common theme: that of vanquishing evil, darkness, and fear, so that good, light, and love reign victorious.
In the movie Frozen, the first time Elsa’s powers cause harm, the wise troll tells her that “fear will be her greatest enemy.” Ironically she locks herself away and shuts others out in fear of her powers for almost the entire movie. Her father’s advice to “conceal, don’t feel” does her more harm than good. She can’t control her powers by hiding and choosing not to feel, she needs to transform her powers by overcoming her fear.
When we visit the trolls a second time, the wise troll reveals the solution: “Only an act of true love can thaw a frozen heart.” Of course, all of us Disney junkies assumed, just like Anna, that a true love’s kiss would thaw the frozen heart. However, “an act of true love” means so much more. Love is not being twitterpated, or caught up in a moment of dreamy romance. Love is the act of continually placing someone else’s needs above your own. True love is sacrifice.
At the climax of the movie, Anna’s sacrificial love breaks down the walls of protection and isolation Elsa has built around her. Elsa finally realizes that “Love, of course” is the answer. When love conquers the fear Elsa has clung to as a shield, she is able to control her powers and create beauty. She is able to serve people rather than alienate them. She is able to love people rather than fear them.
Disney not only borrowed from Hans Christian Anderson to tell this beautiful and compelling story, but also from the New Testament. The wise troll had it right, fear is Elsa’s greatest enemy and love is the answer.
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” (1 John 4:18)
It was only when Elsa understood perfect love that she could redeem the power inside her and use it for good. The ‘happily ever after’ only comes through redemption. The stories that resonate with us are about redemption: redeeming evil into good, darkness into light, fear into love, and sometimes…eternal winter into spring.