Christianity and Disney’s Frozen

February 14th, 2014 Post by

Frozen-movie-posterWith the recent theatrical re-release of Disney’s Frozen the sing-along version came a resurgence in exploration of the movie’s themes and possible connections to the Christian faith. Some of the producers working with the film have even acknowledged the presence of Christian themes in the movie, calling them more subtle than overt. So, this last Monday I was glad to join Rod Zwonitzer on KFUO’s Cross Defense, to discuss some of the implicit and explicit Christian themes in the movie Frozen. Here’s the link if you want to listen to the program on KFUO’s on demand archive.

If you’ve seen the movie and have any comments relating to this discussion, feel free and post them in the comment thread below.

Also, I’ve posted some of my thoughts below which I had summarized for our local newspaper here in Huntington Beach, CA. This is a good, albeit brief, example of apologetics for the tender-minded, using things like art, movies, literature, or music to give people a glimpse of the one true story, the Grand Miracle of Christ’s incarnation, life, death, and resurrection.

 

Caution! This movie review contains spoilers!

Frozen was one of those rare cases where the movie was better than the book. Frozen was (loosely) based upon The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Anderson. However, the portions of the story that bore resemblance to the original fairy tale were a few names, and the words “snow” and “queen.” But I’m glad Disney departed from the original because they made it a better story in the end.

At its heart, Frozen is about love and sacrifice. In the beginning of the movie we find a royal family with two daughters, Elsa and Anna. Elsa has a gift. She can magically summon snow and ice. However, she discovers that her gift can be a blessing or a curse.

Later in the course of the film, we find out that only an act of true love can break the curse which had spread. At Elsa’s coronation the gates of Arendelle were open for the first time in years but there was trouble. Elsa’s icy powers came unleashed and Arendelle was frozen in an eternal winter. Elsa fled her home to the Northern Mountain to live in isolation. The naturally, adventurous and impetuously optimistic Anna went after her. Meanwhile the whole land awaited an act of true love to break the curse.

Thankfully, that act of true love came. But it did not come as expected. The prince, Hans turned out to be a snake-tongued, two-faced, power-hungry boy who manipulated Anna’s innocent love. Kristoff, the hard-working, rough and tumbled ice-block salesman was the underdog in the running to save Arendelle from the curse of an eternal winter.

Eventually, Hans was discovered for a fool. Kristoff and Anna fell in love. But it was Anna who was the surpise Christ-figure of Frozen. As Hans stood over Elsa with sword in hand, ready to strike the fatal blow, Anna threw herself in front of her sister. She placed her frozen, dying body between Hans’ sword and Elsa. The frostbitten curse got her just in time for the sword to fall upon her frozen hand. It was a self-sacrificing love.

What a marvelous picture of Christianity. Jesus stood between us and death and took death’s blow for us, all the way to the hilt. Jesus placed his dying body between us and the grave. Self-giving, self-sacrificing love. Jesus placed all others before himself. But Jesus didn’t stay dead. Jesus is risen from the dead. Sin’s frozen gloom over us is melted. Death’s cold, icy grip on us is shattered by the warmth of Jesus’ resurrection.

 


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  1. Jais Tinglund
    February 14th, 2014 at 09:27 | #1

    What’s wrong with “The Snow Queen”?

  2. Pastor Sam Schuldheisz
    February 14th, 2014 at 09:42 | #2

    Nothing particularly wrong with “The Snow Queen”. The only real point I was trying to make is that on my first trip through the story it appeared to me that it was not as well a told story as the Disney version (mostly in terms of style). I think it’s a fine tale on it’s own, but on the first reading of it I simply found it a little hard to follow. Now, that may have been partly my fault in carrying movie expectations into my reading with me; it also may have been the fact that I read it later in the evening when my mind was not as fresh. So, I’ll be re-reading that again to see if it fairs better on a second time through. There are a lot of things about the original Snow Queen that I enjoyed: the fact that being frozen was clearly seen as equal with being evil / deprave and that salvation came from the loving tears of another – in fact, that would’ve made an interesting twist in Disney’s version, if they had Elsa’s tears melt Anna’s frozen curse. Anyhow, hope that all helps a bit.

  3. Matthew Mueller
    February 14th, 2014 at 10:04 | #3

    Hadn’t thought of it but now I’m even more glad my girlfriend forced me to watch it.

  4. Jais H. Tinglund
    February 14th, 2014 at 10:15 | #4

    I always enjoyed the curious perspectives on life presented through the quaint characters Gerda encounters on her journey in “The Snow Queen”. I am pleased by the portrayal of her and Kay’s love as a suffering and sacrificial friendship which naturally leads to marriage without a lot of dramatic and romantic “realisations”. I am fascinated by the thrilling vision of a cold and hard hell. But the real masterstroke, it seems to me, is the troll mirror as a parable of sin and its effects on human perception to begin with, and ultimately the fate to which its victims are doomed.

    And I was a little disappointed to see that nothing of this was reflected in a movie claiming “The Snow Queen” as its inspiration.

    In all these elements (or most of them, anyway) a Christian testimony is presented much more powerfully than in the repeated references to Brorson’s Christmas hymn.

    Hmm. Now I find myself wanting to read “The Snow Queen” again.

  5. Jais H. Tinglund
    February 14th, 2014 at 10:29 | #5

    I, by the way, found it very interesting to observe that the song in most likely to be the “hit” of the movie – “Let It Go” – is a “pre-conversion” song which is actually antagonistic to the overall message of the movie.

    Whether or not this is intentional is hard to say. But if it is, or if the makers of the movie just did not care – what ambivalence! Very post-modern – I thought.

  6. February 14th, 2014 at 13:11 | #6

    That analysis redeems the movie for me–slightly. I still despise it when movies butcher original works, and Hans Christen Andersen’s stories should not be fiddled with.

  7. Jais Tinglund
    February 14th, 2014 at 13:35 | #7

    @J. Dean #6
    Amen. Or to put it in the original language of Hans Christian Andersen’s stories: Amen.

  8. Scott Jones
    February 14th, 2014 at 14:51 | #8

    What about all of the pagan symbols in the movie? It’s been a while since I saw the movie but I clearly remember being upset by a the replacement of natural Christians symbols with pagan symbols. Two things come to mind – the grave sights with runes and the coronation ceremony. What came to my mind was an attempt by Disney to keep the pomp and circumstance but avoid any Christianity. Ok..I admit the same could be said for LOTR but I think the difference for my and my family was the fact that this did not appear to be a different world but a 1700ish Northern European type country that should be Christian. The King and Queen should have been buried under Cross not Runes!

  9. Joya
    February 15th, 2014 at 14:32 | #9

    I have no problem with the use of imaginary symbols in what is clearly an imaginary world. (I can’t imagine that anyone had the proper fabric to make that icy dress in any historical northern European country.) I don’t know that I would want Christian symbols used in a fairy tale full of imaginary creatures, like rock trolls, and magic. It could be seen as lumping Christianity in with all that silly imaginary fairy tale stuff rather than the truth that it is. Even when fairy tales are written by Christian people to communicate truths of the Christian faith, they don’t use real Christian symbols (Tolkien and CS Lewis).

  10. February 17th, 2014 at 18:50 | #10

    Could someone familiar with it recommend an age group that would be appropriate to see the film either as a field trip or later on DVD then engage in a discussion about the theme? I’m serving in a prek-8th grade setting with a Lutheran high school near by. Thanks!

  11. Pastor Sam Schuldheisz
    February 18th, 2014 at 10:21 | #11

    David,
    Good question. I’ve been asked this a couple times since I started to write about the movie. Initially I would say that sticking with the parental guidance (PG rating) for the movie and, by extension, anyone who falls into that age category / bracket. That being said, I think children younger than the PG rating would be fine for viewing depending on their maturity. I don’t recall any problematic language or too much suggestive humor. Most of it was cartoonish.

    In the end, of course, all of this really comes down to the parents and their comfortability with it. I know at the Lutheran school where my wife teaches they issue a permission slip even for PG movies just to be on the cautious side, whether that means a movie at school or field trip.

    To give it an age definition I would say it would work really well for a junior high (6-8 grade), and maybe even 5th grade, movie trip, not so much because of the age (I think younger children could view it) but because of the conversation that will be part of it afterwards.

    Hopefully these few thoughts help you a little bit.

  12. Pastor Sam Schuldheisz
    February 18th, 2014 at 10:22 | #12

    One more thought, for you, David. If you wait for the DVD to come out you’d have the opportunity to preview it yourself.

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