Last week we took our girls to see Disney’s Frozen for Christmas and I loved it! As in, I told my husband I want my own copy so the girls can’t take it with them when they get old enough to move out. If I had the chance, I think I’d watch this one more times in theater than I did The Matrix (8 times). This movie had good music and good acting, but if you’re like me, what you really care about are the redemptive themes. Frozen more than delivered in that respect! It had some amazing themes in it and has sparked some great conversations with our children. If you haven’t seen it and don’t want to know what happens, go see it and then read this 🙂
One of my favorite things was how the Frozen folks defined love in this movie: sacrificing for someone else, whether that’s in the context of romantic relationships or anywhere else, and then they showed it with Kristoff, Olaf, Anna, and Elsa. The trolls talked about how you can’t really change people, but when you love them, they change themselves–and they talked about how we need this kind of love from family and friends and in the context of romance; we’re all “fixer-uppers.” We regularly talk to our girls about how humans are incapable of loving on their own (1 John 4:19; Galatians 5:22-23). God initiates love and that transforms us. By the power of the Holy Spirit, we pass along God’s love and others are transformed. And then, of course, Disney hit the sacrificial love that saves Anna at the end, just as Christ’s sacrifice saves us. Love transforms us as we are loved AND as we love. So beautiful!
I also loved how Elsa’s parents thought they were protecting her (and everyone else) by isolating her and teaching “conceal, don’t feel” her magic, but at the end Elsa discovers love is what protects people. She’s trying so hard to control things. We had a great conversation with our daughters about how feelings are like that. When you lock them up inside you, they explode out and end up hurting people at some point. Instead we need to love and then share our feelings in the context of relationship. I could also really relate with the family dynamics of keeping secrets as a self/others-protective mechanism that ends up sucking the life out of and isolating those involved in the secret. Love is where it’s at.
Another amazing theme was freedom. Elsa feels trapped in her room/her power (or as she calls it, her “curse”) and then she sings about how she’s finally free when she goes up on the mountain alone and can let that part of herself out. She is free in the sense that she is finally using her power, similarly to how she used it in her childhood. She’s no longer pretending to be someone she isn’t and it changes her. I love how Disney visually showed this by switching up Elsa’s costume from a very straight-laced look to very flowey hair and dress. By changing her circumstances, it provides her with outward freedom to be herself, which is a step in the right direction, but later she realizes she’s not really free there either because she brought her own internal storm with her. It’s only once she learns to love and be loved that she’s really free. So beautiful to see a Disney film talk about how circumstances don’t determine our happiness, peace, etc.–that freedom is about being free from our own personal demons. And then combining that with her honesty about herself–Elsa ends up free because she lives out who she is AND deals with her internal storm. She lives a wide open life in a spacious place. I was really convicted by this theme. I’ve been thinking and writing a lot about how people can’t see what God is doing in us if we don’t live wide open lives. But it takes having time to be anchored in the reality of who we are. I’m not sure that Elsa would have been able to handle things as well if she hadn’t had that time alone where she was exploring her power. I have a short memory so I need time every single day to be alone, to sit in God’s presence and know who I am and who He is, to re-create that space in my soul. Only then am I able to love in truth. Otherwise I’m hemmed in on every side with no margin.
The Frozen folks also addressed fear and control and how the opposite of fear is love. Elsa and her parents are motivated by fear after the accident with Anna. Fear causes them to focus on control. They think they’re loving Anna and others by living out of fear, but as I said before, at the end Elsa discovers love is what protects people. I thought Disney did a great job of juxtaposing fear and love and how control is an illusion. Control promises to fix things, but all it does is hide the problems. And once you have some control you end up needing more and more to deal with the problem… it becomes a never-ending cycle. As a person with PTSD, this is a lesson I feel like I need to hear every single day. My natural response is to run to control because it seems like it’s the road to security, but I’ve learned that my heart is the problem.
I also liked that the bad guy didn’t stick out like a sore thumb. Usually you can guess who it is from the get go, but the sudden reverse of Hans provided a great opportunity to talk to our girls about giving people time to show who they really are. Maybe it’s my background, but I think it’s important to teach kids to be wise in who they trust–obviously, it’s important not to swing to the side of teaching them to fear. Hans is also a great opportunity to talk about how having a hungry soul makes you vulnerable. He even tells Anna that he was able to fool her because she was so desperate for love. It’s sad, but she practically fools herself. I’m not saying that her situation didn’t come into play; obviously the fact that she was alone for years was a big part of why she was willing to give herself to whomever came along. However, from a spiritual perspective, having a satisfied soul is a great way to safeguard oneself from bad relationships, bad choices, and the like.
I think it’s very telling that Frozen did so well in box offices. When a storyteller connects with the themes of God’s bigger story and the way He made the world to work, people connect with it on a heart level. Suddenly they can picture themselves as this character or that character (and I think it’s very telling to see which characters they relate with–my daughters each picked a different character as their favorite, one that matched up well with where they’re at!). So, if you haven’t seen it yet, I encourage you to watch this beautiful story and think about who you are.