So, I watched the Disney movie “Frozen” for the very first time today. I know, I know…a bit behind to the party, but I don’t have kids or a T.V…which also means I’m not tormented by little voices singing “Let It Go” 24/7 🙂
Anyway, despite my initial reservations, I have to say I was pretty impressed with the message behind this simple kid’s film. I sure don’t remember any Disney movies from when I was a kid (or before) that actually addressed the taboo societal views on emotion. So, many nuggets of insight planted into the storyline, if you caught them.
To recap quickly: The movie starts with a young Elsa (heroine and main character) and her sister Anna sneaking out of their rooms at night to build a snowman…which is actually code for releasing Elsa’s birth-given powers to create ice and snow. Elsa ends up hurting her sister unintentionally and the two are separated by their parents for the remainder of their childhood. After having her memory wiped (by a troll of all things, lol) Anna is confused and doesn’t understand why she can’t see her sister. Years later at her coronation ceremony, Elsa’s powers come out and she is exposed along with the shame she has carried from her childhood. She runs away and isolates herself in a palace of ice (no pun intended). Thinking herself safe and free to be herself with no fear of harming anyone else, she barricades herself away, not realizing her sheer absence is hurting her hometown until her sister comes to fight for her. In an attempt to avoid her fears she ends up harming her sister again unintentionally, but this time almost fatally. After a few struggles, Anna ends up saving her sister’s life by risking her own…which inevitably melts Elsa’s heart, which in turn thaws her hometown and the kingdom is saved. The movie ends with Elsa finally learning how to use her powers to benefit others and everyone is happy happy.
…So many golden nuggets here…I’ll try to contain myself 🙂
So, let’s start unpacking this. Elsa is in a sense “punished” at a very young age simply for being herself. She is not a “bad” person…her “powers” (read: who she is) are not bad. She didn’t mean to hurt her sister, it just happened while was operating in her gifting. What’s worse is the message that was ingrained into her from her childhood by her father. “Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let it show” becomes her mantra as she repeats after her father. And Anna becomes confused not knowing why she has to be separated from her sister. She only knows she has to because other people said so…to the point that she doesn’t even think she is supposed to (allowed to) stand next to Elsa at her coronation ceremony.
Isn’t that just the way of the world? Be strong, don’t let anybody see your weaknesses. Especially as women. We are taught to believe that emotions and even some personality is “bad” or threatening. So, we hurt ourselves by covering up, because we are taught to believe that if we are real, we might hurt or “offend” somebody else. Meanwhile our own emotional health suffers. So, we’re taught to “stuff” our true feelings which over time causes even more damage than we realize. Because we lose who we are in the process. And if we don’t lose who we are, we think the solution is to separate ourselves. I’ll circle back around on this one in a bit.
Anna didn’t know her sister had hurt her. All she knew was that she loved her sister and was willing to do anything for the sake of healing their relationship. Even, though she had been influenced as a child that a separation was necessary as a form of protection, she fought to uncover the truth because she believed it could be made right.
Kids are very impressionable. We tell a kid something or force them into a certain lifestyle when they are too young to understand and it can mark them for life. Elsa is taught to believe that because she is so “powerful”, she may end up hurting others and the best way to handle it is to isolate herself and “control” her emotions instead of working through to problem to find a solution that doesn’t require shutting everyone out.
Even her troll (that cracks me up for some reason!) warns her that her greatest gifting, although beautiful, could be her greatest downfall if she lets it overpower her; more specifically fear. Isn’t that the truth? Sometimes the best things about us or our greatest strengths are what satan attacks the most. Even our personalities can be used as a weapon. We can be a super passionate person, but if we are hurt….look out! Sometimes our own pain can be the very thing that hurts another person. As they say, hurting people hurt people.
It’s not until Elsa’s coronation that the truth about who she is finally comes out as a result of her sister’s relentless pleading to reconcile the relationship. Elsa’s power (her heart) is exposed and she is immediately misunderstood by her court and kingdom (the masses)…except by her sister who runs after her.
All of her pain drives Elsa further away (deeper into herself) to where she feels free and safe enough to be herself without the fear of hurting anyone else. (Apparently you need a sequined dress with a slit up to the thigh to do that! Heck, I’ll settle for a sparkly cape…can I have a cape every time my feisty comes out?).
So, she builds a fortress of fear made out of ice (pain).
Fear can become a prison.
Despite all of this, her sister loves her enough to fight for her and goes after her against all odds to pull Elsa out of her prison of fear. When Ana Finally does get to her sister and gently explains to her the ripple effect, Elsa reacts once again in fear, but this time she’s unable to control it and sends a “trunk monkey” to battle in her place. And she ends up deeply wounding her sister. We get like that sometimes, right? Fear can turn us into a monster if we aren’t careful. Building walls of anger (which is always, always, ALWAYS based out of fear) instead of facing the problem head on to find a resolution.
We are terrified of letting our guard down…to let our true feelings show…because we are afraid of what people are going to do when they see them…or we’ve been taught that it’s not “okay” to feel. We won’t be accepted, loved for who we are, flaws and all, etc.
And soon the very fortress that was meant for self-preservation begins to close in on her.
Meanwhile, Anna searches for a solution for her “broken heart”. Looking for love in all the wrong places. And the wound initially caused by her sister leaves her vulnerable for even further heartbreak. See, the wound from her sister cut deep. So deep, Anna doesn’t even realize it’s affecting her until it begins to show on the outside…we can wear our wounds like badges sometimes…and sometimes they are visible to everyone, but us. Left unhealed, slowly over time, those deep wounds can cause a slow emotional death. When we try to fill a void to mask our pain, we leave ourselves wide open. We can’t ultimately heal a root with a surface band-aid…but we can heal it with Love!
With Anna’s last breathe she chooses her sister’s life over her own, which ends up saving them both.
Love can do powerful things. It can be the soothing salve that heals a broken-heart. It can melt a heart of stone. It can render fear null and void. It can release us into our destiny. It can wipe away the prisons of guilt or shame from our past. And it can give us courage.
Just one catch, though…we have to be willing to receive it!
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear,..”- 1 John 4:18