Frozen: A Disney Movie Where Sisters Actually Care For Each Other
Brotherly love gets a lot of play in the Bible, though the concepts are hardly gender specific. " Indeed, "Let brotherly love continue," says the author of Hebrews. The charge seems like an extension of the Golden Rule, where we are to love our neighbors as ourselves. We are to love each other as though we are siblings, as though our neighbor comes from our own flesh and blood.
Disney's treatment of siblings in Frozen feels more purposeful than previous films. In Little Mermaid, Ariel is the youngest of seven sisters, but her independent streak simply leads her away from the family. Cinderella faces her cruel stepsisters, but the story is more about her triumph over them in the end than it is about the love she shows them. Or many previous Disney movies simply feature princesses who don't have siblings, like Snow White or Belle in Beauty in the Beast.
Frozen is no match for the complexities portrayed of sisters in literature like Little Women, Little House on the Prairie, or Sense and Sensibility. Then there's C.S. Lewis's Till We Have Faces retelling of the Greek myth of sisters Cupid and Psyche, which features the themes of rivalry, jealousy, and possessiveness. On the surface, sisterly love, in comparison to "radical" brotherly love, can sound girly or cute. But serious literature has demonstrated the power of sisterly treatment, whether it turns into shared love or mutual destruction.
What Frozen offers is a leap forward in themes for a Disney cartoon, providing children with a picture of sibling challenges that consist of more than bickering and rivalries. As Princess Anna has to climb mountains to reach her sister while Princess Elsa has to come off her mountain to face her fears, it illustrates the persistence they both have in reconciliation.
Frozen captures sibling love by displaying the challenges and the sacrifices love might require of us. Even the romance in the film attempts a creative twist, with a love triangle thrown in the mix. What Princess Anna thinks of as true love is confused by another love interest, demonstrating that love looks different went put to the test.
Initially, I thought I'd be telling people, "Pick Frozen instead of Hunger Games this weekend!" But Hunger Games offers its own powerful qualities, for reasons Alissa Wilkinson has already spelled out in her review for CT Movies. Still, if you're looking for something light-hearted, a movie children can watch, and one that dives a bit into sacrificial love, Frozen will do the trick.
Sarah Pulliam Bailey is a national correspondent for Religion News Service.
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