Perfect Love Casts Out Fear, Ice, & Disney Tropes

It’s 10 degrees outside, so we figured this would be an appropriate blog.

This post is about Frozen. Cue obnoxious song.

Even if you haven’t seen the movie, you probably know that it features two princesses, one of whom can magically cover things with ice and snow, and sometimes things gets out of hand. Elsa is the older and magical sister, and Anna is the younger and non-magical sister. This summary might sound a bit random. Just go with it. It’s a kid’s movie.

Elsa and Anna

As a child, Elsa had control of her powers, but she accidentally hurts her sister Anna by shooting her in the brain with ice. (Like I said, just go with it.) This doesn’t happen because of an inability to control her powers, but because of bad aim. The girls’ parents rush Anna to some magical rock trolls who heal her, then tell Elsa, “Fear will be your worst enemy.” Her parents decide that Elsa will hide her magic even from Anna, therefore denying part of who she is. This ruins her relationship with her sister and leaves Anna in a lonely, closed castle, talking to pictures. Meanwhile, Elsa and her parents descend into a spiral of fear. She is afraid to lose control of her powers, so she loses control of her powers and therefore becomes more afraid. This gets even worse after the girls’ parents die at sea. Because Disney seems to be mostly incapable of making a movie without an orphan protagonist. (At least they stayed consistent when they bought Star Wars.)

Ultimately, on Elsa’s coronation day, she loses control in front of her subjects and runs away, fear and ice spreading behind her, leaving her kingdom in peril. She began to find peace living in her identity, you know, letting it go (sorry), which is good. But eventually, she found that she still couldn’t control her terrifying powers. Throughout the film, fear drives her every decision, making the situation worse and worse, until she freezes her own beloved sister’s heart. The magical trolls tell Anna that only an act of true love will thaw her frozen heart.

"FROZEN" (Top to Bottom) ELSA and ANNA. ©2013 Disney. All Rights Reserved.
“FROZEN” (Top to Bottom) ELSA and ANNA. ©2013 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

Anna immediately assumes that it means she needs true love’s kiss (because Disney!), and goes running off to Hans (jerk) to find it. Really what she needed was to perform an act of true love, to put someone else’s needs above her own. When Anna sacrifices her life to save Elsa, her heart melts.1 Elsa, upon being shown love by Anna and being reminded of the power of that love, can undo the damage her powers have done with ease. And the two lived happily ever after. (At least until ABC’s Once Upon a Time picked up the story.)

Scripture says that “perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18 ESV). Anna loved Elsa deeply, magic and all. Contrary to the message of the previously referenced obnoxious song, simply being herself did not bring freedom from fear, nor was she able to live with others. When Elsa was free to live as who she was and still know that she was loved, the fear she had about her magic lost power over her. In the same way, when we know that we can be honest about who we are – even the parts of ourselves that scare us – and know that the God who loves perfectly loves us as well, those things that we fear lose power over us.


  1. Other people have recommended not loving, and that didn’t work out too well.

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