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The Positive Meaning of Frozen and Let It Go | Mary Biever | One Writing Mother

The Positive Meaning of Frozen and Let It Go

I loved the movie Frozen and its song, “Let It Go.” However, I was recently sent an article discussing the philosophical flaws of the children’s movie Frozen, in particular the song “Frozen.” This article maintains the lyrics and the song have underlying, dangerous themes. I disagree.

Frozen captures the long term consequences of an incident with two sisters, Anna and Elsa, after their parents die. Had Anna and Elsa grown up in idyllic circumstances, the critic might have had a point. However, he misses the point that Anna and Elsa aren’t reacting from that perspective but instead are responding with their limited, tragic experiences.

Elsa has a special ability to create winter. As children, she and Anna experiment with this gift. In an unexpected accident, Elsa nearly kills Anna with her gift. Their parents rush to trolls to save Anna. The trolls save Anna but do so with a price that costs both Elsa and Anna the rest of their childhoods. Their mistakes are similar to what some parents make when they discover their children have been abused: they try to erase the victim’s memory, isolate their children, and respond with more fear than love.

The first response is to erase Anna’s memory so she no longer remembers the accident or her sister’s special power.  However, just because parents try to erase an incident doesn’t mean that it never happened. It just holds and festers, waiting to erupt later. Elsa didn’t forget. She was haunted by what she had done and blamed herself.

That led to the second mistake the parents made. To protect Elsa and others from her power, the family cut itself off. Elsa was cut off from everyone. Anna was isolated from the townspeople. In addition, the relationship between the sisters, who had once been close, was ended. Of course, this confused Anna who didn’t know why her relationship with her sister ended, or why she could no longer interact with other people. She responded by wanting to know other people and as soon as she was able to meet them, she lacked the experience to discern who was a friend and who was not. That resulted in her infatuation with Prince Hans. She was so desperate to be loved by anyone she leaped towards the first person who offered it, not realizing he had other motives.

The final mistake the parents made was to respond more with fear than love. For Elsa, fear became the ruler of her life. The only way she has been able to prove she is “good” is to hide who she is and what she can do. She was never taught how to channel her power and use it in constructive ways. Further, her parents never developed an exit strategy for their isolation. Of course the moment she was forced to interact with other people, including her sister, it ended in disaster. Elsa refused Anna’s request to marry the prince. The clash between the two sisters, and the emotions of her coronation, brought about an unleashing of powers she had never learned to control.

In this context, Elsa sang the song Let It Go. The critic of the song suggests the song means she is rejecting morals and standards.  I think she is rejecting the fear that has held her back most of her life. When she rejects that fear, she erupts in emotions she cannot control. Anyone who has been shackled by fear and breaks those shackles will recognize her first reaction, captured so well in the song. Like a bird that has been chained and cannot fly, when she is set free, her first response is to spread her wings to see what she can do. And that is what she sings in the song, “Let It Go.”

The snow glows white on the mountain tonight
Not a footprint to be seen
A kingdom of isolation,
And it looks like I’m the queen.The wind is howling like this swirling storm inside
Couldn’t keep it in, heaven knows I triedDon’t let them in, don’t let them see
Be the good girl you always have to be
Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know
Well, now they knowLet it go, let it go
Can’t hold it back anymore
Let it go, let it go
Turn away and slam the doorI don’t care
What they’re going to say
Let the storm rage on,
The cold never bothered me anywayIt’s funny how some distance
Makes everything seem small
And the fears that once controlled me
Can’t get to me at allIt’s time to see what I can do
To test the limits and break through
No right, no wrong, no rules for me
I’m free

Let it go, let it go
I am one with the wind and sky
Let it go, let it go
You’ll never see me cry

Here I stand
And here I’ll stay
Let the storm rage on

My power flurries through the air into the ground
My soul is spiraling in frozen fractals all around
And one thought crystallizes like an icy blast
I’m never going back,
The past is in the past

Let it go, let it go
And I’ll rise like the break of dawn
Let it go, let it go
That perfect girl is gone

Here I stand
In the light of day
Let the storm rage on,
The cold never bothered me anyway

This song is an anthem for anyone who has ever been held back by fear. The movie doesn’t end with this song but with the eventual reunion of the sisters.

Elsa doesn’t realize she froze the town as she left. Anna left in search of her sister and met Kristoff. With her limited experience, she didn’t recognize the difference between the real good guy and the pretend one until it was nearly too late. When Anna and Elsa met again, Elsa didn’t realize she critically injured her sister.

At the conclusion of the movie, Anna sacrifices herself to save her sister. Her “act of true love” saved the kingdom, and it turned out she didn’t die after all. Having learned that with love, she can control her power, Elsa thaws the kingdom and punishes Hans, who has been revealed to be the bad guy. Anna ended up with the good guy, Kristoff, who truly loves her.

What was really frozen in the story was Elsa’s own heart. She was frozen in time the moment the accident happened. It’s not until Anna saved her with love years later that she warmed up and was able to again respond with love.

The final message I see in the movie is that two sisters, imprisoned by fear, learn to build a relationship with each other and overcome a tragic accident from their childhood. There is nothing dangerous in that message.

Instead, there is a story of redemption.


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