Disney’s most recent animated musical, Frozen, has been almost universally praised by audiences and critics alike, with good reason. It’s a very well-crafted film on many levels, it has great music, the characters are memorable and real, etc. To go further, I’d like to propose that another reason why this film has been so successful is that it teaches wonderful lessons that today’s society is dying to hear. This post will cover one of the three of these lessons that I’ll be talking about, and everyone is more than welcome to add their voices to the discussion! Be sure to leave a comment with your insights!
WARNING: These posts will contain plot spoilers. If you haven’t seen the movie, by golly, see it already! It’s been out for, like, half a year. Come on.
So, this first post is about true love vs. infatuation. If you ask people today what love is, you will find that their answers vary greatly. Some define it as a feeling, some define it as an action. Some will say it is the equivalent of what should actually be called lust. As a more concrete example, here’s the top three definitions that appeared when I did a Yahoo search for “love definition:”
A deep, tender, ineffable feeling of affection and solicitude toward a person, such as that arising from kinship, recognition of attractive qualities, or a sense of underlying oneness.
A feeling of intense desire and attraction toward a person with whom one is disposed to make a pair; the emotion of sex and romance.
In the film, we have Anna, one of two princesses of Arendelle, who has been kept locked up inside the castle with her sister Elsa since her childhood, as the result of the accident caused by Elsa’s wintry powers. Quite understandably, she’s dying to get outside and meet everyone on Coronation Day. “I can’t wait to meet everyone!” she exclaims. Then she goes on to wonder, “What if I meet the one?”
Anna deeply desires love, which makes sense. She’s human. We all desire to be loved — it’s written in our nature. So when she runs into (literally) the handsome prince from the Southern Isles, Hans, she believes that she has found love at last. She and Hans laugh and talk together, skid down hallways in their socks, and even sing a catchy duet about their supposed love for each other.
“Our mental synchronization / can have but one explanation,”
“You and I were just meant to be.”
Anna, she believes, is in love. Hans is handsome, a good dancer, fun, and he cares about her. She accepts Hans’ marriage proposal immediately. After all, they were made for each other. He’s perfect.
A little bit too perfect, wouldn’t you think? Hmm.
So when Anna and Hans ask Elsa to give them her blessing, she rightfully refuses, which greatly offends her sister. Anna simply doesn’t understand why Elsa would refuse. So what if they just met? As she tells Kristoff later on, “It’s true love!” Why should it matter how long they’ve known each other?
This is a problem I see often in today’s society. Why are people so willing to jump into relationships with people they barely know? Why are people so obsessed with famous (and, of course, attractive) actors, musicians, and other celebrities? They are merely skimming the surface — they are looking only with their eyes. They see the attractive body but not the soul. What is the result? In the case of dating, not far into the relationship, they get bored with each other — they “fall out of love” — and decide to split up and find someone new.
Is it any wonder that so many people are unhappy in today’s culture? Is it any wonder why America has a 50% divorce rate, at least last I checked? This culture does not understand true love, just as Anna doesn’t.
Fast-forward to later in the film. Anna has been struck by Elsa’s powers again, this time in the heart rather than the head. She’s in dire need. The trolls tell her that “only an act of true love can melt a frozen heart.” Great! She and Hans are in love! All she needs to do is run to Hans quick as a flash and get a true love’s kiss from him! Problem solved!
Anna reaches Hans, thanks to Kristoff and Sven. But it’s then that she discovers the terrible truth: Hans doesn’t love her. His sweet talk, his charm, his marriage proposal… it was all fake. He used her. It was all just part of his selfish plans. He leaves her locked in a cold, dark room, heartbroken and dying. I bet many a person seeing this film who has been used in a similar way can relate very deeply to Anna in this scene.
Soon, the snowman Olaf finds her and decides to stay with her, promising that he won’t leave until they’ve figured out another act of true love that can cure her. Anna doesn’t have a positive outlook on this.
“I don’t even know what love is,” she admits to Olaf.
“Well, I do,” he says. “It’s putting someone else’s needs before yours.”
*applauds Frozen’s screenwriter(s)*
And as it turns out, what Olaf says is true. When Anna realizes that it’s Kristoff who loves her, she goes out to find him so he can give her a true love’s kiss. She calls out for him in the cold, and then sees him running toward her. For a moment, it seems to her that everything will be all right after all.
But then she sees something else. Hans is silently approaching Elsa from behind, sword at the ready.
So what does Anna do?
She throws herself between Hans and Elsa, blocking Hans’ sword and shattering it as she turns into an ice sculpture.
Everyone stares in disbelief as Elsa embraces the statue, crying for her apparently dead sister. But within moments, Anna has returned to her normal self.
Once the initial shock subsides, Elsa asks, “You sacrificed yourself for me?”
“I love you,” Anna says simply.
That is an act of true love. That is what love is. Anna was about to die, but so was her sister. And she decided to save her sister’s life. She put someone else’s needs before her own. As a result, she saved not only Elsa but her own life as well. Anna has matured and learned what true love is.
Our culture desperately needs to hear this message. So many people fall into the same trap that Anna did with Hans. They see only the surface value of everyone around them and, as the phrase goes, look for love in all the wrong places. They believe that love is nothing more than feelings or attraction. And, tragically, this most often results in heartbreak and/or the use of others as a means to an end.
Frozen sets out to prove that things like infatuation and emotion do not equal love. It shows that true love is selfless — putting the needs of others above our own.
That is a message I deeply hope that people will take to heart when they see this film.
Stay tuned for Part 2: Conceal, Don’t Feel!