Spiritual Lessons From Disney’s Frozen
The primary plot of Frozen surrounds two sisters, Anna and Elsa, who are best friends. Their parents are king and queen of Arendelle. Elsa, the older sister, has powers to create ice and snow out of nothing, and she uses her gift to entertain Anna. When the girls are children, Elsa accidentally injures Anna. Anna is healed, but loses her memory of the event and any recollection of her sister’s power. Elsa isolates herself from Anna to protect her sister from further physical harm.
(spoiler alert) The film fast forwards to Elsa’s coronation day as queen (Their parents are now deceased). Elsa all but ignores Anna which ignites an argument between the two girls. In the heat of the moment Elsa’s powers are unleashed causing their entire town to be covered in snow and ice. Embarrassed and disgraced, Elsa leaves Arendelle in self-imposed exile.
Anna decides to search for Elsa, with the help of Kristoff, a mountain man, and Olaf, a talking snowman. The sisters reunite, but then Elsa accidentally injures Anna again. This time, the ice penetrates her heart, leaving Anna cold and sick. Feeling bad again, Elsa chases them away. Kristoff takes Anna to a troll named Pabbie for advice on how she can be made well. Pabbie tells them that only an act of true love can melt her frozen heart. Anna decides to return to Arendelle so that her fiancée, Hans can heal her.
Meanwhile, a gang of men from Arendelle, led by Hans, track down Elsa and put her in prison back in town. Both sisters end up back in Arendelle. Anna finds Hans, but Hans refuses to help her. He tells Anna that he was only using her to become king, and then he locks her up.
Elsa escapes. Hans finds her and lunges toward her with a knife, but Anna, who has also escaped, blocks Hans. She succeeds, but at that point her heart completely freezes and turns her body into solid ice. Elsa hugs her sister, and her act of true love thaws Anna, restoring her back to health.
Frozen is replete with spiritual themes, intentional or not. Following are three of the dominant ones.
1. Love. This is a strong theme in Frozen, but not in your typical, fairy tale fashion. Love is explored from various angles. Hans is portrayed as falling in love with Anna and they even announce their engagement. But we learn that Hans is only faking his love. We discover that his real motive is to marry Anna as a shortcut to become king. This twist teaches that love can be confusing, even hurtful at times.
Love is also presented as being sacrificial. Olaf, the perennial comedic relief in the story, gives Anna wise advice when he says of love, “It’s putting the needs of somebody else above your own.” Indeed, Anna sacrifices herself to save her sister in the climax of the film. This is even more meaningful since Elsa has ignored Anna for most of her life. The lesson is that true love does not depend on how others treat us.
Jesus demonstrated his love for us in the same manner. “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). His love is not based on what others do for him, but his love is personified through personal sacrifice. Putting the needs of others above our own demonstrates true love.
2. Redemption. After hurting her sister as a child, Elsa struggles with feelings of shame and doubt. Her last shred of self-worth disappears when she accidentally almost destroys Arendelle with ice. Elsa leaves town vowing never to return. In the ultimate expression of identity loss, she sings, “My soul is spiraling in frozen fractals all around…the past is in the past…that perfect girl is gone.” Although she attempts to feel nothing, Elsa cannot help but break down in tears after Anna is frozen solid. Her decision to love at once delivers her own frozen heart and frees her to wholeheartedly love again. She is redeemed.
The lesson is that we must never give up. No matter how much we have been hurt in our lives or how badly we mess up we can love again, because we have redemption through Jesus. “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace” (Eph. 1:7). When we consciously allow Jesus to actively work in our lives, we will be freed from our past and our lives will be forever changed.
3. Reconciliation. After being estranged for at least half of their lives, Elsa and Anna are reconciled at the end of the film. It is worth noting that this reconciliation has a ripple effect—it thaws Arendelle from its frozen state and returns it to its intended, former splendor.
The film suggests at least two spiritual lessons concerning reconciliation. When we reconcile with our loved ones it has a contagious, beautifying effect on those around us. And, we were created to reconcile others to their intended glory. “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:18). Since we have been reconciled with God, our job is to share the Good News with others so that they can be restored from their “frozen” state to their former beauty.
Visually stunning, catchy songs and a compelling story.