Much like me, my friend Catherine was captured by Disney’s Frozen. A movie that is topping the charts and winning awards for its story and music. With so many thoughts running through her head she asked if she could be a guest blogger. Read below and see how truth has peeked its way into our little girls (and boys and grown ups) hearts through the big screen.
Is Disney intentionally trying to spread the gospel or is the story of sin, redemption, and sacrificial love just such a part of us that it comes out on its own? Disney’s Frozen has become the highest-grossing Disney- produced animated film of all time, surpassing even The Lion King. I saw the movie six weeks ago and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since – and it’s not just because my 5 yr old wears an Elsa dress, has all the Frozen figurines, and repeats the mantra, “the cold never bothered me anyway” constantly. I’m struck by how much the story has resonated with me as a story of the gospel, a story of sin and separation, unconditional love, and redemption.
Elsa is born with ice power which at first seems fun and innocent. After accidently hurting her sister Anna she realizes the ice power can be dangerous and uncontrollable. Like sin in our life it starts out looking appealing and innocent then soon has things spiraling out of control. In order to try to control the power, Elsa separates herself from everyone, even her sister. Sin has a way of separating us from those we love. Rather than honesty, confession, and authenticity, we attempt to compartmentalize, hide, and ignore the parts of our life that are shameful, embarrassing, or different – the very things we need healing from.
It’s interesting to me that in this story the “evil” force is inside of Elsa. Despite her best effort she can’t can’t stop or control her power. To make it worse she doesn’t have an evil step-mother or uncle or sorcerer to blame it on, it is the evil right inside of her. Yet there is a constant understanding throughout the movie that this power doesn’t make her evil in herself, there is always hope for her redemption and for her powers to be used for good.
The other thing that’s interesting about Elsa’s ice power is that it affects the whole community. She accidently sets off an eternal winter that she isn’t even aware of. She thought by retreating to the mountains she was containing her power and keeping those around her safe but it’s too late, the community she is supposed to be queen of and love the most is suffering because of the misuse of her power. Sin has a way of affecting those around us. Even when we don’t want it to and try our best not to. It starts a domino effect and soon those we love the most have been hurt by our poor choices.
Anna is a picture of unconditional and sacrificial love. Despite the fact that her sister has shut her out and ignored her even during the lowest point of her life (when her parents died) she does not begrudge Elsa but always wants to be best friends again. She watches Elsa self-destruct in front of the entire community and she wants so much to help but Elsa shuts her out all the more and runs away to a high mountain. She believes in Elsa and her ability to change the “deep, deep, deep, deep snow” of Arendale back into summer even when Elsa doesn’t believe in herself. Even after being mortally wounded by Elsa she doesn’t give up on her and finally gives herself sacrificially to save Elsa from the Prince Hans in a final act of true love which helps Elsa finally see that her power could be used for good and doesn’t need to be separated or ashamed. This act of true love saves both Elsa and Anna and the two are finally reconciled.
It especially resonates with me that true love here is portrayed as sacrificial and unconditional and not just romantic love as it so often is. This is the love that Jesus showed to us by suffering and dying on the cross for us while we were still sinners. The power in that sacrifice ought to jolt us awake recognize the destructive power of sin and find true acceptance to be ourselves and a supernatural empowerment to use all of our abilities for good rather than evil in our world. Unfortunately, too many people are more like Elsa, aware of their own failings but completely incapable of controlling them on their own. It is only in the true sacrificial love of Jesus do we find redemption so that sin does not control us any longer.
Not only does Frozen tell an amazing story but it also has amazing songs and unforgettable characters. I encourage everyone to see Frozen and consider what role you would play in narrative (I’ve even encouraged cashiers and waitresses the last few weeks!). There is something for us all to learn there. I tried to read more about the screenplay writer Jennifer Lee to determine if she was a Christian. There is little information I could find except that she is married, has an eleven-year old (that sings “Do you want to build a snowman” in the movie), and also wrote the screen play for Wreck-it Ralph which also is filled with themes of true friendship, acceptance, and the destructive power of evil. These themes are part of our very DNA and it seems they are trying to reach out to us and teach important lessons to the next generation (or to mine since I love the movie just as much as my daughter).
I’ve never preordered a movie before but thanks to Amazon this one will be arriving at my house on March 18th. I know the analogy isn’t perfect and I’m not trying to stretch it too far. I’m just excited to watch it with my children and use examples from it to teach my children important lessons about faith, love, and sacrifice.