THE ABIDING LIFE
Finding Freedom in Frozen
By Gwen Sellers
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I finally jumped on the Frozen bandwagon this weekend. Parent friends had raved about the movie, and I saw multiple online parodies of the various songs. I was curious, but not enough to actually go out and see the movie. Plus it's a kids' movie, right? But my mom, who also heard people raving about the movie, saw that it was available On Demand and requested that we watch it together on Mother's Day. It was her day, and it was snowing (gotta love spring time in the Rockies), so I agreed. What a treat! The music was incredible and the jokes were hilarious, but it also had a great message.
For those of you who don't already know, the story takes place in the kingdom of Arendelle and centers around two princesses—Elsa and Anna. We first meet the sisters when they are young girls playing together. Elsa has magical powers to freeze things, make snow, etc. Anna loves building snowmen and running around jumping on the snow Elsa makes. But Anna starts running too fast and Elsa accidently strikes her with her freezing powers. The parents rush Anna off to magical trolls to be healed. The elder troll tells Elsa that she has great powers, which can be very beautiful and also very dangerous. He warns her to learn to control her powers and also suggests that fear will be her enemy. Because Anna was struck in the head, which is "easily persuaded," rather than the heart, which is much more difficult to change, the troll can simply touch her to make her well and also remove her memories of the magic. The king decides that Anna will never be told of Elsa's powers, that the castle staff will be reduced, and that the castle gates will be closed. Elsa's powers will simply be hidden so that no one else gets hurt. We then see the girls age and watch Anna's vain attempts to get her sister to play with her. The parents die and it ends up just being the two girls in the lonely castle. Elsa is taught to "conceal; don't feel." She fears herself.
This is the first lie the movie debunks: "conceal; don't feel." Don't be the person God created you to be. Don't learn about your uniqueness and learn to use it well. We know that probably hurts, so just choose not to feel the pain. Fake it. Stop being who you are, because who you are is not okay. It just hurts and scares people. So don't be yourself, and don't be upset about that, and everything will be fine. Only it isn't fine. Elsa confines herself to her room. She has to consistently remind herself to hide who she is and suppress the painful feelings. She acts as if she has a horrible disease that disqualifies her from life. She is secluded and hurt and desperately tries to be the "perfect girl" everyone wants her to be. Anna is confused. She wants her sister to play with her and begs her to come out, only to meet with a closed door. Everything in her life, she says, has been a closed door. This is what sets her up to fall for the movie's villain, Hans. "Love is an open door," only Anna doesn't know what love is because everyone shut her out in order to, they thought, protect her. The people in the kingdom are left to wonder at what goes on in the castle. They don't dislike their rulers, but they are certainly shut out.
Finally, it's Coronation Day and Elsa agrees to open the castle gates and host a ball. But disaster strikes. She loses her glove and her undeveloped powers go haywire. She freezes most of the kingdom on her run up to the mountains, leaving people scared, confused, and helpless. Elsa has some beautiful moments on the mountain. She recognizes that hiding who she is has been a slow death. She sees the beauty in her powers. As she sings "Let it Go" and builds a magnificent ice palace, the audience wants to shout with her. That's right, Elsa, let it go. The cold doesn't bother you; it's those other people who have a problem. Be who you are. Look at the beauty here. The problem is that it's only partial freedom. Elsa recognizes her value and the utility and beauty in her gift, but she is still isolated. She still fears herself. Cold doesn't bother her, but she thinks she cannot be part of Arendelle. She's gone and that's better for everyone.
Another lie: You can be yourself all alone. We go lots of different directions with this one. Sometimes we are "ourselves" to the great annoyance of others and claim they are the ones with all the problems. We basically let everything about us—good, bad, ugly—come out in every environment with no regard for the interests of others. Sometimes we even play up the ugly just to see what people will do. Other times we're a little less confrontational. We choose the solo life. I'm okay with myself, but I don't think others are. And that's okay. I'll just do life alone because, really, I'm an introvert anyway and it's just better this way. Whether we're crass or isolated, we're still concealing and we're still stuffing emotions. But the sneakiest thing about this is not that it is a faked acceptance of self. It's that it is a lesser version of self. We really cannot live out the full extent of what God has for us all alone. Elsa left her kingdom in ruins. They needed her to return to fix it. Anna now had answers for all those years of closed doors and was eager to gain back her sister. And Elsa would not know the full extent of her gift until she engaged with other people.
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