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Frozen, the X-men, and Christmas (Movie Review, kinda)

I’m sure many young men (and even old ones) noticed the obvious connection between Frozen and the X-Men. SPOILERS ahead. On a shallow level, Elsa has the powers of Storm in that she can control the weather (only for snow and ice, though) and she has the powers of Iceman (throwing ice shards, freezing things, etc.).

 

 

Anna doesn’t get any powers. Only Rogue’s hair.

But the link with the X-Men actually goes deeper. One of the main themes of the movie is the need for Elsa to control the power within her. She has to manage her emotions and live in constant fear of going overboard. She must restrain herself and shun the people closest to her to keep from hurting them.

That’s something that’s always in X-Men comic books, cartoons, and movies too. The mutants discover their powers usually by suddenly manifesting them to the alarm of their family and friends. They study in Xavier’s school because their powers are a threat to themselves and others and they must learn to control this very central part of themselves.

And it isn’t just mutants or princesses from fictional Scandanavian kingdoms who deal with this. Normal human beings like you and me have this struggle as well. We have a tendency, a skill, or a particular strength, but we find that too much of it bothers or hurts people sometimes.

Let me give a few examples:

  •  My friends don’t like it when I speak too frankly. But I can’t help it, I have a gift for speaking the truth.
  • I don’t understand why people think I’m proud. I’m just naturally confident and outgoing. 
  • It’s not my problem if they don’t like that I talk a lot. That’s who I am.
  • I know it hurt you when I shouted at you, but I’m really passionate about excellence and I can’t tolerate sloppy work.
  • Okay, I didn’t follow through on the deadline. But chill out, man. You’re too high-strung. I like to take things easy. 

Obviously, these examples are broad, but all of them have the same elements.

  • There’s a characteristic that’s true about us.
  • Now this characteristic can be a strength (being honest, being a great speaker, a diligent worker, being relaxed).
  • But taken too far, it can also be a weakness (being hurtful with our words, talking too much, prioritizing work over relationships, or being lazy).

One attempted remedy is to repress these characteristics. So Elsa and Rogue had to wear gloves. Elsa had to stay locked up in her room. It was all about fear and control.

And we’ve all been there, haven’t we?

I remember when my problem was screaming at people on the basketball court. Out of fear of hurting people and a need to control myself, I made the resolution to never raise my voice. Unfortunately, the impulse was still there. And while, technically, I did not scream –  my bulging eyes, multiple punches to the ground, and tightened lips sent the same message anyway. It’s a miracle I didn’t pop a blood vessel with the suppressed pressure.

Coz Fear and Control don’t work.

So what does Elsa do? She sings Let It Go. And what’s the point of the song?

“Can’t hold it back anymore… I don’t care what they’re going to say… No right, no wrong, no rules for me…”

She stops caring. She stops listening to what people say. If her powers make her happy, fine! She’ll do whatever she wants. And we’ve all been there too, haven’t we?

 “You don’t like me? Fine! That’s not my problem.

I’m done trying to make you happy!

I’ll do things my own way!”

But those actions have two consequences for Elsa:

  • they hurt those around her – the people in eternal winter and her sister with a frozen heart,
  • she has cut herself off from all her family and friends

In the same way, we also don’t always see the damage our actions have on others and we can lose vital relationships.

Are those our only two choices then?

On one side, forever oppressed by people’s opinions controlled by fear, never able to truly express ourselves? And on the other, hurting people left and right, continually pushing them away and ultimately isolating ourselves?

Are these our only choices?

Obviously not. There’s a third option, that keeps the best of both sides without the negative consequences. And even when the occasional mistake is made, it can be easily corrected.

That is the option of Love.

(Now don’t pass out from the sugar rush yet.)

At the end of the movie, there’s this dialogue:

Olaf (the obliviously suicidal snowman): “An act of true love will thaw a frozen heart.”

Elsa: Love will thaw… Love… Of course, Love!

(enter “Scandanavian” chorus, that sounds like something from The Lion King, as Elsa unleashes her powers to undo the harmful effects)

Love is the answer and here’s why.

The key to controlling your “power” – your strengths, tendencies, personality, etc – is not to repress the manifestation, but to release it. Because the problem isn’t in the power but the motivation. Anything you do will turn out alright when done out of love.

When done out of self-interest, self-pleasure, selfishness, or vanity, it’ll hurt others and ourselves. But when the motive is love, our strengths are concerned with what’s best for the other person. You’ll control yourself naturally.

So when my motivation was showing how good my work was, I would often blow my top at my classmates, teammates, etc. But when the motive was out of love for them and the people we were serving, there was a surprising amount of control. I didn’t need to repress myself. I just needed to act out of love.

And what is it that demonstrates this act of true love to Elsa? It’s the intentional self-sacrifice of her helpless sister. When Anna willingly shows her helplessness, that touches the heart of Elsa.

And that’s the connection to Christmas. God coming as a baby in the form of Jesus is significant. If He had come in a show of power, might, and cosmic wonders, we would say, “He’s amazing. He’s spectacular. He’s awesome.” But we wouldn’t know if He loved us.

But He came as a baby, becoming like us to eventually die the death we should have died. So that we can say, “He really does love me.” 

Pope Francis just tweeted a similar thing yesterday.

And His act of true love, melts our dysfunctional frozen hearts. And releases us to move in the amazing gifts and talents He’s blessed us with. Not hurting, only helping. Not through Fear and Control, but motivated and guided by Love.

 

Frozen Tidbits:

1. Let It Go is like Disney’s version of Defying Gravity. The songs have so many similar themes. No wonder they got Idina for Frozen.

2. Listen to Idina Menzel’s Let It Go again. When you get to 3:13 it sounds like she says, “La perfect girl is gone!” Try it! Now try unhearing it.

3. “A kingdom of isolation and it looks like I’m the queen,” is the most emo line in any Disney movie ever. I hope I don’t see any of those senti postcards with texts on them.

4. This is a fractal. (2:44 in the same video)

5. I hated Olaf in the trailer. But he won me over with his song.

6. I’m glad Disney is overturning the usual Love-At-First-Sight idea in Frozen, like it did in Enchanted. (More of that in Carla’s blog.) But since they were responsible for a lot of the promotion of the idea, that’s like a pet owner cleaning up his dog’s poop. You better!

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