There’s this brand new movie that just came to theaters. It’s called Frozen.
Ok, so the truth of the matter is that we never go to the theater, so it takes me 6-9 months to catch up on what everyone else is talking about. But I digress.
The upside to my tardiness, however, is that this contains spoilers which will not spoil the movie for just about anyone…
Before singing the movie’s praises, I must confess that it has its downsides as well. My Twitter stream blew up when I made this my day’s prayer:
But there are two very powerful and beautiful dynamics in the Frozen story world that capture love as it’s defined within the Christian story–and we do well to notice.
First, the great act of love that saves the day is not romantic love.
The film actually does a fantastic job of deconstructing “Disney love”: the alleged “love” of two people who know nothing about each other but simply find each other attractive. (Or, worse yet, the “love” of the man who acts to save a completely passive woman as though his work is somehow “true love.”)
How, then, does it work?
The movie beckons us to ask that question, and plays with our expectations. We’ve been trained to think that “true love’s kiss” is the ultimate act of love.
Not only does Anna realize that she didn’t have true love to bestow such a kiss, the expectation that romantic love will save the day is, itself, thwarted.
The act of true love, instead, is an act of self-sacrifice. Anna throws herself in front of the sword that is aimed at her sister Elsa.
Not only is this not an act of romantic love, it is an act of self-sacrificial love, a willingness to die so that the other might live.
When I watch this, I have two thoughts simultaneously: (1) Yes, yes, and a thousand times yes! (2) Why can’t the church consistently work this reinterpretation of what true love actually consists of?
If I have one frustration with the genre of contemporary praise music, it is that it has adopted the cultural notion that heart-aflutter romantic love is the highest form of love. We act as though our culture has rightly identified what the greatest form of love is, and then we cast Jesus into that role. (“Heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss and my heart turns violently inside of my chest,” anyone?)
Frozen, however, took the high road: reinterpreting the act of pure love as self-sacrificing love, enacted so that the other might live.
Second, the plague that provides the dramatic tension in the film is empowered by fear. The fear, in turn, feeds on itself, until the horrors of an eternal winter spew forth out of Elsa.
Until, that is, Elsa discovers that the remedy for fear is not concealment and cowering, but love.
She articulates this realization baldly, and the instant it comes to her, she gains the power to control the powers she had been given.
And as she says that love over comes fear, I hear echoing in my mind, “Perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18).
Love lies at the heart of the Christian story. There are lots of ways to think about and depict love. The story told by Frozen captures this better than we have often found ourselves capable of doing on our own.