- Brian Myers
Spoiler alert! This reflection assumes you've watched the movie. It will reveal and reflect on key plot points from the movie.
We recently brought our daughters to Disney on Ice and we prepared for the event by watching Frozen as a family. The movie is over four years old, but it has maintained its popularity and for good reason. Not only does it feature catchy music, dazzling visuals, and a compelling story, but it also beautifully explains the complex idea of true love in a medium accessible to the younger members of our domestic churches.
The movie teases viewers with its main themes in an early scene when Elsa's family visits the trolls. Pabbie tells Elsa, "Your power will only grow. There is beauty in it but also great danger. Fear will be your enemy." Each of us has been gifted with great power to change the world for the better or for the worse, to build up or to tear down, to unite together or to separate apart. Like Elsa, fear is often our enemy. Fear leads us to prioritize and protect our own needs and desires, and too often this means hurting those we perceive as a threat.
This danger of course comes to fruition for Elsa. Elsa freezes her entire kingdom in eternal winter. Fear leads nations to build walls and turn away from the needs of the vulnerable and oppressed as we see happening in our world today. Worse than freezing the kingdom, Elsa's fear leads her to hurt those closest to her and no one is hurt more than her sister, Anna, whose heart is poetically frozen by Elsa. Those who are closest to us have the most to lose when push them away and we have the power to cause them the deepest pain.
The cure to the pain and suffering wrought by fear is revealed in the movie's climax. The turning point occurs when Pabbie tells Anna "only an act of true love can thaw a frozen heart." Of course our immediate assumption is that Anna needs true love's kiss and rightfully so. Physical affection shared between a man and a woman who have completely given of themselves to each other can be a true act of love. However, in this movie, Disney recognizes that kind of true love between two people who have given themselves and committed themselves to each other completely does not happen with a person you just met. The strong emotion experienced when a couple first meets is more infatuation or attraction than true love.
Realizing a passionate kiss from a man she just met is not an act of true love, Anna admits ”I don't even know what love is." Thankfully, Frozen provides an insightful answer. Olaf responds, "love is putting someone else's needs before yours." When facing our own self interest - that which we might be afraid to lose - we must 'let it go'. Finally, the movie portrays a true example of an act of true love. Faced with the choice to serve her own needs by running to Kristoff or serve Elsa's needs by stepping in front of the sword, Anna chooses to sacrifice herself for the one she truly loves. That is the essence of true love! True love is giving the gift of your very self to another. The act of true love par excellence is Christ's gift of himself on the cross for all of us. Anna's selfless act is also a true example of love. Furthermore, Frozen reminds us true love is shared between more than husbands and wives. A person can act out of love for a sister, brother, friend, or - if we accept Christ's challenge - even an enemy!
Elsa realizes that love is the remedy for fear. When she let's go of her fear and instead embraces love, she finds the ability to control her power. She is able to thaw the eternal winter throughout her kingdom. She can do more than simply end the destruction caused by her powers when she was dominated by fear. She can use her powers to create something beautiful. She can now create controlled snowstorms and ice sculptures. She uses her powers to create an ice rink that brings people together rather than driving people apart. Love enables us to create beauty with our power as well. Our nation, our communities, and our families are at their best when our love is stronger than our fear.
Family move night is a great time for the family to relax and be entertained together. It can also be a good time to discuss the deeper themes explored through the cinematic art. While children may struggle to comprehend complex theological discourses, movies like Frozen make these realities more accessible. Frozen provides great themes worth exploring with your domestic church. God has gifted each of us with great power. Scripture repeatedly instructs us to be not afraid and to love as Christ loves us. When we let fear go and embrace love, we are able to use our power to participate in building the Kingdom of God.