And Disney’s most recent animated movie, Frozen, is no exception. It even has some rather Catholic Christian overtones, that were a delightful surprise to me when I watched it with my sister recently.
[Spoiler Alert: While I do my best to not share too many details of this film some of the storyline to the movie is revealed below.]
This tale of two sisters is one that embraces the importance of family, with familial, sisterly love primary to the storyline. Princess sisters Elsa and Anna have a wonderful relationship as young children, but when Elsa’s gifts and abilities prove to be potentially life-threatening to little sister Anna, Elsa shuts herself away from everyone and everything. Anna, with no knowledge of why Elsa isolates herself, longs to have the close relationship with her older sister that she once had. She feels shut out and alone. As Catholics, we often isolate ourselves from others, as protection for ourselves or for others. But even more frequently, we isolate ourselves from God, shutting the door between our relationship and refusing to answer, as it happens between Anna and Elsa.
As the sisters grow up and mature into adulthood, they experience the death of their parents (as we all know, if you’re a parent in a Disney movie, your odds of living aren’t all that great), and you see the longing and need for family relationships; and the sisterly, family love that only Elsa and Anna can provide each other. But even this tragic event does not bring Elsa and Anna back to their close sisterly relationship. Instead, it is when Elsa’s abilities are made known to everyone and she runs away in fear that we see the relationship between the sisters begin to grow. While Anna doesn’t understand everything that is going on with Elsa, she loves her older sister unconditionally
The unconditional love that Anna has for Elsa is a lot like the love that God has for us. Just like Anna who searches far and climbs mountains to bring her sister back home, God seeks to bring us back to him no matter where we are and how much we’ve isolated ourselves from him. With Anna, the unconditional love for her sister brings about a sacrificial love, and a willingness to give completely of the self and provide “an act of true love.” An act of true love is something we’ve experienced in our relationship with God, in the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus, for us.
It was a great movie to see with my little sister (who, when I say is little, is actually about to turn 22 and graduate from The University of Texas), and my sister and I enjoyed Frozen immensely. We giggled and gave each other side glances during a couple of cheesy moments and when characters first burst into song in a Broadway-esque style. But it was delightful, witty and joyful to watch.
Now, I’m not saying this movie is perfect, but the storyline was a pleasant surprise and departure from many children’s animated movies. Reliance on family (an example of Catholic values!), and, more importantly, sisters, is something that is rarely seen in films. Female characters that are unconditionally loving, strong and capable are rare too, though they are growing in number.
The Catholic News Service gives Frozen the classification of A-I- general patronage, and the Motion Picture Association of America rates the film PG- Parental Guidance Suggested, as some material may not be suitable for children.
Oh, and I can’t forget to mention Olaf, the lovable and hilarious little snowman that is a reminder and symbol of the sisters love from childhood. He provides great comic relief, while being the encouraging friend helping the sisters reunite. He’s a part of all of us and a reminder of how we are called to help others love and grow in relationship with each other and God.