Eros and Agape in Disney’s Frozen

Screen Shot 2013-12-12 at 6.19.20 PMThe Friday of Thanksgiving weekend is traditionally a “movie” day for us. This year we split the family: 12-years-old and over went to see the new Hunger Games, 11-years-old and under went to see Disney’s new animated movie, Frozen. Having seen Hunger Games already, I took the little ones to see Frozen.

I really enjoyed the movie. It had some great music and the look of it was beautiful. But what stunned me was the message that the movie conveyed.

If you haven’t seen it, there’s some SPOILERS. Sorry, no way to talk about the ending without giving the ending away. And the ending came as quite a surprise to me!

Let me recap the story: it’s a tale of two sisters, Elsa and Anna. Elsa has the power of ice and snow (hence the film’s title, Frozen.) When they were young, Elsa accidentally hurt Anna with her power, so she kept it (and herself) hidden from her sister so she wouldn’t hurt anyone else. Anna, who doesn’t remember the event, wonders why her sister becomes so distant, especially after their parents pass away (being parents in a Disney movie is like wearing a redshirt in Star Trek.)

They become teenagers. Elsa is to be crowned queen and the castle is opened for the first time in years. Anna, young and eager, meets a handsome young prince and immediately falls in love. She wants to marry him! At this point I was rolling my eyes, thinking, “yeah, that’s a healthy relationship.” Thankfully, Elsa agreed and wouldn’t give her blessing. Emotions get high, Elsa’s power goes out of control, everyone realizes she has this power (some think her a witch) and off she runs into the frozen wilderness. Her sister goes to find her.

In the adventures that follow, Anna’s heart get’s frozen and can only be healed with an “act of true love,” which Anna thinks must be getting a kiss from the prince she wants to marry. And if that’s what happened, it would be standard Disney fare.

Because Disney movies are generally about eros. That’s a Greek word for romantic love, the love between husband and wife. Snow White is cured by a kiss from the prince; Sleeping Beauty is the same. Most Disney movies end with a marriage and the romance between the male and female protagonist plays a central role. Actually, the majority of stories told today focus on eros. Our society seems to think it’s the highest form of love.

But Jesus told us otherwise. When He spoke of love, He used the word agape, not eros. When He said, “Love one another as I have loved you” (John 13:34,) He used the word agapeAgape is the highest form of love. It’s not about emotion—it’s about self-sacrifice. As Christ Himself said, “No one can have greater love (agape) than to lay his life down for his friends” (John 15:13.) That kind of love isn’t often shown.

Which is why I almost fell out of my seat at the dramatic conclusion of Frozen.

Anna was about to die. Her “true love” was running toward her to give her the saving kiss she thought she needed. But her sister was in danger. Instead of waiting for the kiss, she ran to her sister’s aide and sacrificed her life to save her. And that’s the act that heals her heart. It wasn’t eros that was “true love,” it was agape!

I looked at my six year old daughter. “Wasn’t that amazing?” I said.

“Yes,” she answered. “I loved the snowman! He’s funny!”

Okay, so maybe six-year-olds don’t get the difference between eros and agape. But someone at Disney did. And I’m so glad they decided to make a movie that shows that true love is more than just a feeling—it’s the laying down of your life for another.

And the snowman was funny, too.

6 Comments on “Eros and Agape in Disney’s Frozen

  1. Bob, totally agree. I think it is Lassiter’s impact if only because the best Pixar films have the same themes. I’ve noticed since 2007’s Meet the Robinsons followed by Tangled, Wreck it Ralph, and Frozen that this theme of Agape is prevalent. Great post!

  2. Spot on. I was so blown away by the ending, particularly in that the Agape love was between sisters and I’m currently in the parenting trench of teaching Gemma that her sister is more important than anything else she loves (ie, carefully built Lego towers, pristine doll collections, delicious banana smoothies, etc.)! Even though she’s only 3.5 and mostly just loved the dresses, funny snowman, and music, I like to tell myself that the lesson of sacrificial love planted itself somewhere deep in her subconscious 🙂

  3. Technically, the word “agape” , and it’s verb form, “agapao” do not contain within their meaning a sense of the “highest form of love.” “Agape” and “agapao” simply mean “love” in their respective syntactical positions, which is why the word is used in such passages as 2 Sam. 13:1,4 which says that Amnon “loved” (agapao) Tamar, although it is obvious from his actions that his feelings for Tamar could not be described accurately as the “highest form of love” or as self-sacrificial love by any means.

    There are similar passages in the New Testament portion of our Scriptures, such as Luke 11:43 (The Pharisees “love” the best seats in the synagogues), John 12:43 (those of the Jewish authorities who believed in Jesus did not profess him because they “loved” the glory that comes from men), 2 Tim. 4:20 (Demas “loved” the present world, causing him to abandon Paul), 2 Pet. 2:15 (Balaam “loved” gain from wrongdoing) and 1 John 2:15 (warning saints not to love the present world), all of which use the verb form of agape in a way that describes a very unhealthy and selfish desire. It appears that the word “agape” does not convey some higher form of love.

    I would agree that the end of the movie was pleasantly surprising!

  4. Pingback: My interview on Made for More – A Catholic Radio Show for Teens | The Aussie Accent

  5. Reblogged this on Mercy of Mercies and commented:
    I usually go for the original content on this blog, but I ABSOLUTELY love this post.

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