For anyone who sees the song in context, it should be clear that the “kingdom of isolation” in which Elsa finds herself queen is not where she ought to be. Sure, she no longer has to keep her powers hidden from the world, but she is completely without human company. For most her life Elsa lived by the mantra “conceal, don’t feel,” but now she decides to “let it go” and “run away and slam the door.” She says, “It’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.” Just as Anna’s conception of freedom is flawed, so is Elsa’s, for the freedom she gains on the mountain is a freedom devoid of relationship. In the song, Elsa claims that “the past is in the past,” but in reality she is just as isolated in her ice castle as she was at her home.
While the two songs feel very different when first watching them, the lyrics of “Let It Go” are strongly reminiscent of her sister’s duet, “Love Is an Open Door.” This similarity is especially apparent when we examine the motifs present in the songs. Indeed, doors, freedom, and leaving the past behind are all mentioned in similar ways. In the performance of their two most memorable songs, the two sisters display two possible reactions to the pain of isolation. While it is by no means an exclusively Christian concept (indeed, we inherit it from the pagan philosopher Aristotle), the maxim that “virtue is the mean between two extremes” comes to mind when considering the two sisters’ actions. Neither running into the arms of a man, as Anna does, nor isolating oneself from society and “being yourself” can bring happiness. In the case of Elsa as in that of Anna, Frozen and the Church perfectly in accord. They both ask: What is the purpose of power when not used in sacrificial love?
For the Christian, love consists of actions taken out of recognition that the other person is valuable, good, and beautiful. Anna’s duet with Hans, containing lines like “I’ve never met someone who thinks so much like me,” and “our mental synchronization can have but one explanation” seems to be displaying an attraction not to the other as he is, but only insofar as he is similar to the self and makes the self feel free and happy. While the romance is enjoyable, isn’t this sort of enjoyment a form of narcissism? Elsa similarly displays something akin to narcissism. While her decision to isolate herself on a mountaintop is completely understandable, given that her supposedly loyal citizens are terrified of her, it might be more accurately labeled as solipsism. She cuts herself off from human contact, which takes away from her ability to truly love others. As C.S. Lewis thought, the doors of Hell are locked on the inside.
After being injured by Elsa Anna is told that only an act of true love can save her life, and so, thinking that Hans is in love with her, she sets out to be kissed by him, but is betrayed by him, so she must find another act of true love. But the question (eternally posed by Haddaway) still remains: What is love? According to the Christian tradition, the sort of love that brings about human fulfillment is a self-giving one, but does Frozen agree?
Olaf the Snowman, who provides most of the comedic relief of the movie, acts as Anna’s teacher in love. After Hans betrays Anna and locks her door (Get it? Locks her door?), it looks as though Anna will die alone in the room, but Olaf uses his nose (which Anna presented to him earlier in the movie) to open Anna’s door and show her true love by saving her life. In speaking with Olaf, Anna finally admits, “I don’t even know what love is,” to which Olaf replies, “Love is…putting someone else’s needs before yours
, like, you know, how Kristoff brought you back here to Hans and left you forever.”
Yes. You read that correctly. A character in a Disney movie explicitly identified love with action. Not feeling. Not fate. Action. And not only that, the claim is backed up by the conclusion of the movie.