Frozen: Love Casts Out Fear

We finally watched the much-acclaimed movie Frozen last weekend. A very good movie, for sure, although maybe a little over-hyped. To the point, though, there were some very good themes. As with Tangled and more often recently in Disney movies, there is the theme of strong women who are not defined by waiting passively for their prince to come in and rescue them. I particularly appreciated how Anna dreams the traditional Disney dream and it seems like she is going to get it, meeting and falling in love with a prince, agreeing to marry him within a day… eventually followed by discovering he just wanted her throne.

That ties in to the main theme, which is glaringly obvious so doesn’t really need much commentary here. When they were young, the two sisters Elsa and Anna were incredibly close and had a lot of fun together, particularly in using Elsa’s power to create snow/ice. Young Anna gets carried away, Elsa can’t keep up and accidentally hits in the face with her cold instead.

Their parents rush them off to see some rock trolls. They’re able to heal her, with a foreshadowing warning that at least it didn’t hit her heart. Then, for no apparent reason, they wipe Anna’s memory of Elsa’s powers but keep the fun memories, meaning Anna still has a deep love for her sister. Seriously, Anna was old enough that if parents explained she shouldn’t be so careless with her sister’s power, she probably would have understood and the conflict of the whole movie wouldn’t have been possible.

The trolls also warn Elsa that she’ll be battling fear for her entire life in controlling her power, which is followed by another amazingly-stupid decision. Their parents decide to lock up the castle, not letting Elsa see anybody. In other words, right after being told that Elsa’s big life struggle would be fear, they act out of complete fear and do pretty much everything possible to instil that fear in Elsa. Elsa understandably doesn’t want anything to do with her sister, either, something that the parents seemed to never try to rectify. This creates the central conflict: both sisters care deeply for each other, but Elsa is dominated by fear so isn’t able to act on that in any substantial way whatsoever while Anna is relentlessly trying to restore the relationship without understanding why Elsa isn’t interested.

Once Elsa turns 18, she has to open up the castle for her coronation. Her life is still dominated by fear, but she looks like she’ll make it through most of it until Anna announces that she’s getting married to the guy she just met. As Anna pushes, Elsa in her fear loses control of her power, freezes everything, and runs away. Anna still relentless and fearless chases after her.

To accelerate to the end of the story, Anna is almost dying from being shot in the heart with Elsa’s power. She has been told that only an act of true love will save her, found out that her prince doesn’t really love her, and is now running toward Christoph who she realizes does love her. But then we see the evil prince moving up to Elsa with a sword to kill her. Instead of finishing her run to Christoph to save herself with true love’s kiss, she runs and throws herself in front of the sword to save her sister. It turns out this was the real act of true love, saving not only her life but also breaking Elsa free of her free which breaks the kingdom free of the winter curse.

This gives us three general lessons. First, true love is not restricted to romance as most of us assume (perhaps in part because of older Disney movies). Second, true love is characterized by action and particularly sacrifice for others, not some sappy feeling. And third, love defeats the true enemy: not Elsa or the evil prince, but fear. Fear is the enemy and the love is the victor. It really is a perfect example of John’s claim that “perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18).

Ryan Robinson

It is easiest to identify Ryan as both theologian and tech guy. By day, Ryan is a Technical Consultant work with PeaceWorks Technology Solutions. There, he works on websites, CRMs, and SharePoint implementations. Along with blogging here, Ryan is a founding member of the MennoNerds blogging network and a contributor to the book A Living Alternative.