BY GERRY CHIDIAC
Lessons in Learning
I have to admit I’m not a big fan of fiction and less a fan of blockbuster films. I prefer to know what actually happened and is happening in the world. Still, great fiction is great because it reveals deeper truths about humanity.
My intention in seeing Frozen 2 during the opening weekend of its release was to spend an enjoyable evening out with my family. I didn’t expect to be impressed or moved by the story, but I was.
Frozen is loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale The Snow Queen. It tells the story of Elsa, gifted with magic powers, and her younger sister Anna. The 2013 blockbuster film ended with Elsa saving her sister’s life with an act of true love and courage, and embracing her role as Queen of Arendelle.
In the 2019 sequel, the heroes of the story embrace the importance of respecting Indigenous cultures and prioritizing environmental protection. Despite the fact that these aren’t popular issues in certain circles, it’s encouraging to see a large corporation like Disney using its influence to increase public awareness.
What I found most refreshing about Frozen 2, however, was its emphasis on true leadership. No leader is perfect, but those who are great have the courage to risk doing what they believe is the right thing. They’re motivated by an internal compass that’s directed toward higher ideals. Many times in the film, when faced with a dilemma, Elsa and Anna focus on doing “the next right thing.”
We may not be able to see the top of the staircase but we can always take the next step. Each step draws us closer to the truth and the truth can be terrifying.
In her quest to save her kingdom, Elsa soon realizes that the has been lied for her entire life, that one of her royal ancestors was not the person she thought he was. She embraces this truth and does what she knows is right. Chaos ensues for a time, but in the end peace and happiness are restored.
It’s also significant to note the influence of love. Love can recognize that people make mistakes but it doesn’t judge. Elsa recognizes that her ancestor was wrong but she doesn’t condemn him. She simply does what she needs to do to right past wrongs.
Though the story is a fairy tale, it contains many deep truths. Perhaps I’m reading too much into a family film and Disney had no intention of making such profound statements. Nonetheless, the message is clearly visible.
Not only families but nations have deep, dark secrets that hold us back from achieving our potential, and this can lead to our demise. We conquer territory, build great structures and bring other nations the ‘gift of civilization.’
The truth is that those we tried to subjugate were already civilized. The structures we built were for our own benefit. Our history books have told us for generations that our powerful nations have done great things but is that really the truth? More importantly, do we fear the answer to this question?
It’s said that the truth will set you free, though it may make you miserable at first. It may cause some discomfort for a time but truth always leads to healing.
Perhaps Frozen 2 is just a children’s movie. Yet what better message is there to share with our young?
Sometimes fiction is the clearest revelation of reality. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “All through history the way of truth and love has always won.”
Gerry Chidiac is an award-winning high school teacher specializing in languages, genocide studies and work with at-risk students. Check out his website here. Find him on Facebook. Or on Twitter @GerryChidiac