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Disney’s Frozen: “Perfect Love Casts out Fear”

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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.

 

 
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Posted by on April 1, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Six things Disney’s Frozen teaches us about True Love

Sisiters anna

I admit it. I love Disney movies – the more singing, the better. I took my girls to the movie Frozen and was tempted to see it multiple times in the theater. We all stayed up to watch Idina Menzel sing at the Oscars and celebrated when “Let it Go” won best original song and Frozen won best animated feature. It was a GREAT movie. 

But, what made it so great? Other than the music, which I loved. (Did I already mention I love musicals?) What made this movie unique was a non-traditional Disney love story. When it comes to Disney we are used to Princes and Princesses and true love’s kiss. Frozen shows us a different love story and teaches us six things about true love.

1. True Love is not just romantic love.

Now, I am not one to jump on the “Girl-power! Disney-finally-showed-us-you-don’t need-a-man-to-save-you!” bandwagon, but it is refreshing to see a different manifestation of true love. The best-selling book of all time says, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” Both Elsa and Anna are seeking to save the other’s life. Elsa by hiding out so that Anna is not hurt again by her powers, and Anna by pursuing Elsa and ultimately coming between her and death. Elsa’s broken heart and sisterly embrace over Anna’s seeming death is the true love that thaws a frozen heart. They both lay down their life for the other.

2. True Love grows over time.

This isn’t the first movie where Disney has rightfully mocked its portrayal of love, engagement, and marriage at first sight (the movie Enchanted comes to mind.) However, I love the parallel stories of love in Frozen. You see the sisterly love, founded on family and the relationship they shared as young girls, which doesn’t diminish even though it is neglected. We also see the love between Anna and Christoff grow as they work toward a common goal together. The “Love at first sight” shared by Anna and Hans is revealed as a false love.

3. True Love requires sacrifice.

There are many instances of sacrifice in Frozen: Elsa sacrifices a relationship with her sister to protect her from her unpredictable powers, Christoff sacrifices his time and energy to help Anna find her sister, and Anna ultimately sacrifices her life to save Elsa. However, my favorite is Olaf building a fire for Anna. “Some people are worth melting for.” He says as his face starts to sag.

4. True Love requires change.

At the pinnacle of the movie, Elsa (Idina Menzel) sings the much loved and rightfully awarded song, Let It Go. However, listening to that song in isolation, I wonder what lessons it is teaching my daughters. Here is just a sampling: “I don’t care what they’re going to say,” “no right, no wrong, no rules for me,” “that perfect girl is gone.”

Now, I get the kind of isolation she had been living in trying to control and hide her gifts, but how tragic if the movie had ended there. She’s basically saying, “Screw the world! This is who I am and now I can let it go and be free!” Thankfully, there is more to the story.

Elsa realizes that if she doesn’t live in fear of her gift but uses it in conjunction with love for others she can control it in a positive way. Her love for her sister not only requires her to change her attitude, but also the way in which she wields her power.

5. True Love doesn’t give up. 

Anna never stops pursuing her sister. First through closed doors, then through a snow storm and up a treacherous mountain. Her sacrificial love for her sister is  what eventually breaks through Elsa’s icy demeanor.

6. True Love always has a happy ending.*

Ok, so Disney may be able to mock itself on some levels, but still doesn’t disappoint with the happy ending. What do you expect? Ultimately it’s a kids’ movie. Children should be able to see peril and tragedy happen and expect everything to turn out ok. At this stage that is how we want them to view life. Harsh reality will rear its ugly head eventually, but for now we can all enjoy the happy ending.

 

*Perfect love truly does have a happy ending: https://babystepstowriting.com/2014/04/01/perfect-love-casts-out-fear/

 
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Posted by on March 10, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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