Tag Archives: Redemption

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


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.



Posted by on April 1, 2014 in Uncategorized


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Story-formed, Redemption and Gravity

I enjoy analyzing literature and movies because at the very root it is the study of story. We all live and breath stories. Often the first question we ask someone after we find out their name is, “where did you grow up?” This invites story. Or we ask, “how did you meet your spouse?” Once again, we are asking for a story.

The beauty of a good story draws us in and affects us emotionally. Often a story is most compelling when it fits into the context of a larger more universal story. We are then allowed to interpret it on a level of shared human experience.

Watching Alfonso Coarón’s Gravity in 3D at an Imax theater was one such experience. On the surface the movie is limited in relational interaction and seems to be a series of unfortunate events, to say the least, but from a universal story standpoint it is so much more.

*SPOILER ALERT*  Most major plot points of the movie Gravity are discussed below:

We first meet Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) on a space walk recalibrating a piece of damaged equipment on the Hubble telescope. A medical engineer who has been trained as an astronaut, she appears shaky and unsure of herself. She tells Matt Kowalski (George Clooney), “I hate space.” Which begs the question, what is she doing out there? What exactly she fixes and why she is qualified to fix it do not seem important plot elements to the writers.

What is important to the writers is that she appear lost. Both literally and figuratively, Dr. Ryan Stone becomes lost in space. Here is where the universal story comes in. Though Hollywood might deny it or call it something else, nearly all of our stories deal with redemption, and imbedded in many stories in both movies and literature, we find a Christ figure.


Early in the film, debris repels Dr. Stone off of the telescope and into an untethered free fall in space. She is lost. Matt Kowalski has to come find her. As they are slowly floating toward the space station, we find out that Dr. Stone had a little girl who died in a playground accident. Ryan received the phone call while driving home and has been lost ever since. She tells Kowalski, that she gets off work and just drives.


Kowalski is able to locate Stone and fly to her location using an outdated jetpack. He then tethers her to him and carefully maneuvers them back to the now destroyed shuttle. They continue their spaceflight to an abandoned russian space station. They approach too fast and bounce off grabbing for whatever they can. At this point, Stone’s legs are wrapped in cording attached to the space station while Kowalski, still tethered to her, is drifting into space. Kowalski realizes that his weight and trajectory will eventually pull them both away from the station and in a move reminiscent of many mountain climbing movies, cuts himself loose.


He sacrifices his life to save hers.

Once inside the space station, Dr. Stone removes her spacesuit and floats for a moment of tranquil sleep in a dancer’s pose evoking emotions of peace, surrender, and complete fatigue. However, her journey is not over. This space station contains a module that will allow her to reach a Chinese space station that contains a space capsule able to enter earth’s atmosphere. She detaches the Russian space module full of hope and one step closer to home.

The module is out of gas. At this point she despairs for her life and decides it is better to turn the oxygen down and drift into death. Clooney, (her Christ figure) comes to her in a dream (in spirit) and shows her the way.


She wakes up, restores pressure to the cabin, and for the first time in the movie, we see life and determination in her soul. Through a manipulation of the jets used in landing she is able to reach the Chinese space station and man that capsule through earth’s atmosphere.


The capsule parachutes into water. Dr. Stone frantic to get out, opens the door allowing water in that sinks the capsule. She narrowly escapes and surfaces with a life-giving breath. Crawling her way to shore and haltingly standing tall, we see a new resolve. Her despair, and disorientation in space have turned to exhiliration and joy to be alive.

Interwoven in this poignant redemption story is cinematography beyond rival and flawless performances by Bullock and Clooney.


Posted by on November 1, 2013 in Uncategorized


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