Drew Zahn is a WND news editor who cut his journalist teeth as a member of the award-winning staff of Leadership, Christianity Today's professional journal for church leaders. A former pastor, he is the editor of seven books, including Movie-Based Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching, which sparked his ongoing love affair with film and his weekly WND column, "Popcorn and a (world)view."More ↓Less ↑
According to legend, the Eskimo-Aleut language has up to hundreds of words for “snow” (though the truth of the legend has been debated hotly by scholars for decades).
In English, we have the opposite dilemma: one word with hundreds of definitions – that word not being “snow,” but “love.”
What does “love” mean, anyway? If we had a definitive answer for that question, there would be a lot fewer country songs on the radio.
Even biblically, the original Greek language the Scriptures were written in seeks to differentiate between different types of love, whether romantic, friendly or unconditional affection.
Of the defining of “love” in films, as well, there seems no end.
But in the hit new animated film, “Frozen,” Walt Disney Studios hits on a surprisingly definitive – and surprisingly biblical – definition of “love” that should inspire families and discerning audiences to, well, fall in “love” with this gem of a movie.
“Frozen” is first and foremost an incredibly well-made film. The animation is top-notch and reflects both a classic look and the best advances modern technology has made. The story, if a bit rushed and frenetic at times, is also a take on the classics with a fresh, new twist. It’s funny, beautiful, heart-warming, and the music (for “Frozen” is really a Broadway-quality musical set to animation) is astounding.
The story follows two royal sisters, the oldest of which is gifted – or cursed – with magical ice powers both beautiful and deadly dangerous. Though the two sisters love one another dearly, the eldest separates herself to protect her younger sibling from the dangers of her ice powers.
Many years later, when the older sister becomes queen, her isolation is ended and her worst fears are realized, as her ice powers have swirled out of control.
An unshakeable winter falls upon her land, and it’s up to her spritely younger sister to melt the ice queen’s heart and bring the thaw of spring back to their homeland.
Along the way, however, the younger princess is met by a number of characters who seek to teach her the meaning of “love,” some even – in hilarious hijinks – calling themselves “love experts.”
But what is love? Is it romantic infatuation? Steadfast devotion? Or is it something else?
“Frozen,” almost certainly as a mischievous allusion to the DreamWorks animated hit “Shrek,” even toys around with the sappy, romantic notion of “true love’s kiss.”
In the end, however – and avoiding the details to avoid any spoilers – the most unlikely of the “love experts” teaches the young princess love is more than infatuation or warm fuzzies, but evidenced by self-sacrifice.
“Love,” the character states, “is putting someone else’s needs before your own.”
The definition is not only key to the story’s surprising climax, but also biblically solid. For the Scriptures tell us, “Greater love has no one than this: than he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).
Or even more clearly: “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers” (1 John 3:16).
In “Frozen,” these messages – this definition of “love” – are displayed crystal clear (pun intended) and wrapped in a package of great entertainment and a flurry of quality filmmaking.
“Frozen” is rated PG, but not for obscenity nor for profanity, for it contains none. It does, however, have a few frightening scenes and tense moments, including the implied death of parents, which should give caution to parents of small children and likely explains why the film wasn’t rated G.
The film contains little sexuality, limited to a few mild jokes and a few kisses.
“Frozen” has several instances of slapstick, cartoon violence, but also has some significant, realistic violence, such as men with swords and crossbows who attempt to kill the ice queen and other moments of legitimate peril. No actual death or wound is portrayed, but it is a step up from G to PG-level violence.
The film has several instances of the older sister’s ice powers, even calling them “sorcery,” but gives no source, spell, incantation or explanation for them. As such, though there are magical beings, trolls and a snow “monster,” there is no explicitly occult content. The film’s only religious content is at the coronation of the queen, which takes place in a church and is performed by a robed bishop, of sorts.