Friday, January 10, 2014

Do You Want to Build a Snowman? A Sanguine's Reflection on "Frozen"

Yesterday, Jacob and I went to see Frozen, because we had been given movie ticket vouchers as a gift, and because we heard it was awesome. Well, that is only partway true. We were going to see Frozen, but then I decided that The Hobbit would be cooler on the big screen, but then we got lost on the way to the theater (the theater that took our vouchers was in some town in PA) and missed The Hobbit. But we got there in time to see Frozen! And I am so very, very glad. 

I honestly did not know much about the movie, except that it was loosely inspired by "The Snow Queen" (by Hans Christian Anderson), centered around the relationship between two sisters (one of whom has the power to make snow/ice), and, according to numerous Frannies, was extremely catechetical. 


I had already been listening to the soundtrack, so I knew that the music was amazing. Still...oh, it was beautiful. And the visuals were incredible as well. So gorgeous! And I love snow, hence I was pretty happy to see the beauty of winter portrayed well. The movie was not perfect (ie: a bishop is seen in the coronation scene, yet who are the experts of love and healing? Magical trolls. Disney has yet to give a strong place to positive Church figures in a princess movie; though I feel that clothing has improved in Disney princess films, some of the clothes were a bit indecent) but was very, very good

The character development was super interesting (though I really wanted more development of Kristoff's character-including more of a backstory), and the snow thing was intriguing. (which also left me desiring more explanation of its origin-so Elsa was "born with it"-and...any others in her family line born with it? Just a random fluke of birth? I wanted a little bit more to explain the snow power)

However, by far, my favorite element of the movie is Princess Anna.
Feisty and red-haired, full of life and spirit, Anna is the ultimate sanguine, and I love it! During the whole movie, I would repeatedly whack Jacob’s arm, excitedly whispering, “That’s just like what I do! I say that kind of thing all the time!” etc. So many things to love about Anna. Her courage, her awkwardness—both with her words and on her feet, her failure with direction/physical activity…so many other things I can’t remember off the top of my head. Oh yeah, and her immense love of chocolate. I basically felt like I was watching myself on screen for a large portion of the movie J

I feel that the whole movie is full of/about Anna’s development. Yes, the movie is about Elsa discovering how to use her power of snow/ice, and it's about their relationship as sisters, but really, Anna’s story is a driving backbone through the whole scenario. As I watched-and thought about-Frozen, I was continually struck with Anna's process of learning how to love in a Godly way.
***Warning**** Spoilers to Follow******
 As a sanguine/people person, Anna loves spending time with her sister in the beginning. “Do you want to build a snowman” is such a sweet song, and a ridiculously cute scene. 
As Elsa pushes Anna away, Anna continues to persevere in love for her sister. She's constantly pounding on Elsa's door, begging her to come and play. Here, Anna reminded me of God's love for us: that He continually comes to us, loving us-and we either let the door of our hearts open, or we sin and slam it--or keep it closed--and close ourselves off to His love. Anna has all this love in the world to give, and finds herself befriending the suits of armor and the pictures on the walls (here, I was reminded of so many Forensics tournaments in high school where my fellow students and I would talk to walls as we practiced). 
Such an awkward introduction. So awesome!

So, when the coronation comes, Anna is ecstatic that she will see all of these people "for the first time and forever." Full of love, she has fantasized her True Love, and has been holding the hope in her heart that she will meet him. When she does meet Prince Hans, Anna is her spunky, awkward sanguine self in her actions and words, and impulsively falls in love with him, agreeing to marry him. Such a sanguine moment! I have to confess, I loved the musical scene ("Love is an Open Door") with Anna and Hans. It was so fun! Continuing in her sanguineness, Anna is torn to pieces when Elsa refuses to offer her blessing to their engagement, and thus ensues the whole freezing over of the kingdom. 

Anna has this man who she has "fallen in love with," and now her sister is rejecting them-yet Anna does not let Elsa's decision affect the love that she has for Elsa. Instead, Anna sacrifices herself by traveling out into the snowy, icy weather to find Elsa. Of course, being a sanguine, she thinks everything will be solved by simply talking things over with Elsa-and has no other plans/ideas. (again, I can relate...) As she journeys to find Elsa, Anna meets up with Kristoff, who begins to sacrifice himself for her. As the story continues, I watched Kristoff and Anna's friendship and sacrifice grow, and Anna's love for her sister deepen in intensity, especially as she reaches the ice castle. 

Sacrifice, sacrifice, sacrifice. I kept seeing characters sacrificing for each other. In Disney Princess films over the years, I have seen some major selfishness (I'm not going to get on my "The Little Mermaid" rant here, but seriously---the Disneyfied version makes Ariel completely self-serving!). But in Frozen, this is not the case. When Olaf the snowman and Anna had this conversation, I freaked out inside:
Anna: “I don’t even know what true love is,” 
Olaf: “I do! That’s when you put someone else’s needs before your own.”

Disney? Yeah. You just captured the essence of the Christian life right there. From the mouth of a snowman. What just happened? SO PUMPED!!! And then, of course, I completely died with joy at the conclusion of the movie. An act of true love will save an icy heart. As Anna is on the brink of freezing to death, her lover-Kristoff-is racing towards her to save her life. The man of her dreams was coming to save her life, and even though she could see that Elsa was about to die, she could just do nothing and let Kristoff save her. But Anna's immense love for mankind has been transformed through sacrifice in this whole movie. Even the smallest bit of selfishness has left her, she is truly living for others. Laying aside her own desires, she sacrifices her life for Elsa. As I was writing this bog, I found a nifty article that Prof. Bob Rice wrote about eros and agape, which is worth checking out here. Anna lets her erotic love, her romantic, impulsive, passionate love, grow-but it is purified through sacrifice. Such a unity, such a transformation, is so profoundly necessary in our lives, and I was ecstatic that a Disney movie captured it! (other Disney princess movies will show self-sacrifice, but Frozen actually mentioned love being self-sacrifice). 

In Section 4 of Deus Caritas Est, Pope Emeritus Benedict states that  "Evidently, eros needs to be disciplined and purified if it is to provide not just fleeting pleasure, but a certain foretaste of the pinnacle of our existence, of that beatitude for which our whole being yearns."

In Section 10, he continues with "God is the absolute and ultimate source of all being; but this universal principle of creation—the Logos, primordial reason—is at the same time a lover with all the passion of a true love. Eros is thus supremely ennobled, yet at the same time it is so purified as to become one with agape." 

Watching Frozen yesterday caused me to reflect back on the readings from Mass on Tuesday: 
Beloved, let us love one another,
because love is of God;
everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God.
Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love.
In this way the love of God was revealed to us:
God sent his only-begotten Son into the world
so that we might have life through him.
In this is love:
not that we have loved God, but that he loved us
and sent his Son as expiation for our sins. (1 JN 4:7-10)

And from the next day, 
There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear (1 Jn 4:16)

Anna did not fear; she courageously loved with every fiber of her being! 

**Like I said, Frozen is not a perfect movie. I even had a couple reservations towards the beginning, with the whole repression-expression thing that Elsa went through, because some people may take that in regards to homosexuality (I even saw it mentioned in a review later on). The whole repression-expression aspect of the movie could fit an entire blog post in itself. However, people can take anything to fit their own agendas, so I'm not going to spend to much time on that idea. Foremost, the reality and message that is given a label is "true love equals sacrifice," which our world needs more of!**

In Frozen, we are given a beautiful example of love being transformed and perfected through sacrifice. Anna sacrifices herself, and that sacrificial love-agape-ultimately is what brings life back to her and the country. And Anna still gets her Kristoff in the end, which was an added bonus. AND, Olaf gets his own personal flurry, so that he can enjoy the summertime without melting. Oh yeah, and when Sven takes Olaf's carrot at the end, he doesn't eat it--he gives it back. A sacrifice, however small, is still a sacrifice. Love it! A classic happily-ever-after Disney ending, but with so much growth along the way. (It reminded me a bit of Beauty and the Beast as I watched it, because Belle also sacrifices herself for another and there's lots of great music to boot). 
Plus, who can resist such a cute snowman? 

Hi, I'm Olaf and I like warm hugs!