Monday, December 2, 2013

How "Frozen" Warmed My Heart

Over the Thanksgiving weekend, I went with my family to see the new Disney movie, Frozen. In most ways it is just like a typical Disney film: it's (very loosely) based on a fairy tale ("The Snow Queen"), has fun, singable music, and silly sidekick characters. Oh, and, of course, there's a princess.

There was, however, an unexpected, positive surprise in the movie for me that grew out of a typical Hollywood trope. At one point, the central character, Anna, asks Olaf, the talking snowman, "What is love?"

In many Hollywood movies, the script would then turn into some romantic Hallmark card about love being when your heart sings, butterflies in your stomach, and being unable to imagine life without your beloved. And the movie sets up well for that kind of answer with Anna developing fast and strong relationships with not one but two handsome men in the roughly 36 hours of the movie's main timeline. (Love is also something that happens at first sight, right?)

But that's not where Frozen goes. Olaf replies to Anna that love is making someone else's needs and desires more important than your own. He says it so simply that you almost miss the meaning. But to drive the point home, Olaf then does exactly what he said in an act of selfless love for Ana. (Without wanting to give it away, the ending also hinges on an act of selfless love.)

Now I love a good romantic love story as much as most people, but it was so refreshing to see love named for what it really is: choosing to put another ahead of yourself, even at the sacrifice of your own wants and needs. I've seen plenty of relationships (not just romantic) stumble over the other idea of love and wonder, "Why don't my feelings stay the same?" or "Why don't my feelings fix everything?" As Olaf correctly points out, love isn't a feeling; it's an action. And he echoes John 15:13: "Greater love has no one than this: that one lay down his life for his friends."

What's even more remarkable is that Disney seems to be on a roll with this. Selfless love was also a central lesson in Brave (along with a beautiful example of repentance) and was the course for Wreck-It Ralph becoming a hero in a scene that makes me cry every time I've seen it.

So cheers to Disney for giving a wonderful, practical description of love. It's nice to see love presented as something that is more than just wishes and kisses.

“We don’t know enough about love so we make it up.” -Jars of Clay, “The Age of Immature Mistakes”

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