There is no question that the hit movie “Frozen” and its sequel “Frozen II” have had captured the attention of young and old alike. Why is that? Explore the rich symbolism hidden in the movie and see how it might apply to your own life’s journey.
Author: Kathleen Leppek
Frozen II is another wonderful Disney movie with hauntingly beautiful songs, vivid images, and meaningful interactions for the child and adult to ponder. This story takes a step further in each character’s development as they search for self-discovery, the bonds of family and friends, sisterhood, and an understanding of the past. In the movie Frozen, Elsa and Anna let go of emotional pain. In Frozen II, the sisters face the conflicts within themselves on their separate individual paths and together embracing their deepest fears.
The characters of Frozen II are Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, Sven, and Olaf and are happy in Arendelle. It is autumn, a season of transformation which foreshadows the impermanence of life and a new journey of self-discovery as well as a revelation into the history for the town of Arendelle.
In flashbacks, the sisters are young and in the safe care of their parents. King Agnarr tells a story of his past when he was in the Enchanted Forest to celebrate the building of a dam with people from Arendelle and the Northuldran people of the North Forest. The Northuldran people who promised friendship to the people of Arendelle charmed him. His father King Runeard had the dam built to protect Arendelle from the waters. Something went wrong at the gathering and there was an attack. The fighting enraged the elemental spirits of the forest. There was a voice that saved Elsa and Anna’s father. The spirits created a mist that locked everyone there. King Agnarr, the girl’s father, escaped before the fog was set and become the new King of Arendelle.
In another flashback the mother, Queen Idona, sings a song to the girls about the Atahelee River. It holds all memories and has answers.
There’s a river full of memories
In her waters, deep and true
Lie the answers and a path for you
Dive deep down into her sound
But not to far or you’ll be drowned
Yes, she’ll sing to those who’ll hear
And her song all magic flows
But can you bear what you most fear
Can you face what the river knows
After the flashbacks, Elsa is haunted by a voice calling to her. She acknowledges her fear of the future.
You’re not a voice, you’re just a ringing in my ear
And if I heard you, which I don’t, I’m spoken for I fear
Everyone I’ve ever loved is here within these walls
I’m sorry, secret siren, but I’m blocking out your calls
I’ve had my adventure, I don’t need something new
I’m afraid of what I’m risking if I follow you
Into the unknown
Are you here to distract me so I make a big mistake?
Or are you someone out there who’s a little bit like me?
Who knows deep down I’m not where I’m meant to be?
Every day’s a little harder as I feel my power grow
Don’t you know there’s a part of me that longs to go
Into the unknown
While Elsa is trying to find the voice, a storm from the elements is created. Elsa transforms the energy into frozen diamonds of snow in the sky. The diamond shape is a symbol of the four elements, one on each side of the diamond: air, water, fire, and earth.
The people of Arendelle are evacuated to higher ground as the elements rumble through the town. Elsa tells Anna about the voice she is hearing and that she is afraid that she has woken the magical spirits of the Enchanted Forest yet she feels the voice is good. The rock trolls come and Grand Pabble tells the group, “The angry magic spirits have awaken. Things must be set right. The truth must be found out about the kingdom’s past. All one can do is the next right thing. Pray that Elsa’s powers are enough.”
The quest to find the voice begins with Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, Svem, and Olaf. They reach a veil of fog. The veil represents a barrier that protects us from seeing and understanding the fear and pain in our life. It also represents humanity’s fears. The group is not allowed to enter until Elsa touches the fog with her magic powers and it parts and they walk in to discern the diamond shape symbols on tall thin standing rocks. They perceive and feel the beauty of the forest and also sense the angry elemental spirits about. They view the dam their father told the sisters about and see frozen moments in time. Olaf reminds the girls that water has memory. They hear horns sound as people from Arendelle and Northuldran appear that have been trapped since the fight long go. The fire spirit shows itself confirming the two groups are in conflict.
On her journey, Elsa uses her magic accepting the elemental spirits. A swirling tornado becomes a gentle wind pointing the way, a wind of organized thinking. Starting blazes, Elsa welcomes into her hands, a small salamander fire spirit that represents transformation. A water elemental appears as a stallion preventing Elsa from crossing the dark sea. The water spirit, as a bucking horse, represents the spirit of collaboration and cooperation through respect and as Elsa jumps on the horse embracing its qualities, it calms and glides her across the sea to Ahtohallan. The horse, made of water, takes the path of least resistance using its sacred tools to find it’s opening and drive forward assisting Elsa.
The Northuldran people in the story are modeled after the Sami’ people. The indigenous peoples ancestral lands are in northern Norway, Sweden, and Finland. They were hunter/gatherers that lived in small groups and evolved into herding reindeer, fishing, and farming. Living in the northern climate, they have 300 ways to communicate snow. The people believed that natural objects have a soul and that water has memory. They wear brightly colored ceremony clothing that includes a hat with four corners representing the four winds. They use drums with symbols written across the surface as a way of communicating with spirits, understanding the elements as well as the world around them. An altered Sami’ song titled, Vuelit, is at the beginning of both movies.
The Sami’ have also been known as Lapps or Laplanders, meaning patched clothes, which is considered derogatory by the people. It is a reminder to us all to make reconciliations and to be respectful to the indigenous groups of people all around our Earth for they have unique wisdom to share with us all. We need to recognize the divinity in all living things. We are all the human race.
In the movie a Northuldran women says, “When nature speaks we listen,” as the natural elements become angry. This women also recognizes the scarf that Anna is wearing covered in Northuldran patterns. The women tells them the scarf belongs to Queen Idona of the Northuldran people who is the one that saved Elsa’s and Anna’s father and is their mother.
During the movie Kristoff is contemplating how to propose to Anna and each time he tries he is misunderstood. He meets a young Northuldran man that shares the skills on how to ask a hand in marriage and while he is preoccupied, Elsa, Anna, and Olaf continue to follow the voice. Kristoff and Anna don’t play the typical fairy tale story of the Prince saving the Princess. Kristoff gives the sisters room in their self-empowerment and exploration. Instead of riding up on a white horse to save the day, he and his trusted reindeer Sven gallop at a full canter and Kristoff in the spirit of cooperation assists with right relating and asks how he can help saying, “I’m here, What do you need? You got it.” Both Anna and Kristoff are down to earth firmly planted in reality within the story versus the stereotype beautiful and perfect damsel in distress and handsome savior.
The wind gently leads Anna and Elsa on to the shore of an old shipwreck. It is the ship their mother and father sailed on. They find a map depicting the route to Ahtohallan and the Atahelee River that holds all the answers to the past, across the dark sea. Elsa asks for revelation on their parents journey and sees them insisting on continuing the voyage to find how Elsa was to use her magic powers. Elsa realizes her parents loved her and were trying to help her. She recovers understanding and power from accepting that the past is not always what it seems.
Elsa believes she needs to continue her journey on her own, not wanting to put anyone at risk, despite Anna’s pleas to do it together. She pushes Anna and Olaf off on an iceboat and ice path back to the people trapped by the fog. As Anna struggles to stop the boat, they leave the path and fall into a river awakening the giant boulder beings and hide in a cave. The cave represents going deep inside yourself to find your inner potential and the compass within pointing you forward. It can also represent healing the inner self as well as connecting to the depths of the soul.
Elsa crosses the Dark Sea to the glacier Ahtohallan and following the voice she enters a cave.
I’ve never felt so certain
All my life I’ve been torn
But I’m here for a reason
Could it be the reason I’ve been born
It’s your turn – I’m ready to learn
Here I am
I’ve come so far
Let me see who you are
The voice is her mother’s answering as the divine feminine and symbol of the soul calling back.
Step into your power
Into something new
You are the one you’ve been waiting for
Elsa sees the diamond shape and realizes she is the bridge in the center, the 5th element that unifies the other four sides and unites the two people. The Northuldran people represent the Mother, love/wisdom through respect, acceptance, and appreciation. The Arendelle people represent the Father, will/directed purpose. The sisters are a blending of the two as creative potential. All of Elsa’s past comes back to her as she walks deeper into the cave. She comes to the past of her parents and sees her grandfather who schemes to build a dam to claim the land and resources of the region and of the Northuldran people as he disrespects the people and tribe’s magic. The magic represents power and King Runeard wants all the resources and power for himself and the Arendelle people. Elsa sees when the two groups of people were in the forest together King Runeard kills the unarmed Northuldran leader who welds no weapon. The dam was a trick to take away their resources.
As Elsa learns about the past she gets colder and her hands connected to her heart begin to freeze and slowly turn to ice. She musters her power sending a message out to Anna. Anna in her cave, representing her own inward journey, sees Olaf fading as his snow swirls away and they realize Elsa is losing her magic and went to the deepest and dangerous levels of Ahtohallan seeing all of what she feared and may die. Anna feels the depth of grief in loosing her friend Olaf and sister. She feels her deepest fears along with her shadow self and admits to herself that she has always followed it around.
I’ve seen dark before, but not like this
Depression, grief, gravity pulls me down
You are lost, hope is gone, you must go on
Do the next right thing
Take a step. It’s all I can do
Rise from the floor
Do the next right thing
She receives Elsa’s message that reveals the past and her dire state and remembers Grand Pabble’s message – to do the next best thing.
I make the choice to hear the voice
And do the next best thing.
She gathers her strength and despite the emotional grief and pain she presses forward with a plan. With the voice guiding her, she decides the dam must be broken. It may destroy Arendelle, but it will free the past wrong doing. She runs to the light at the end of the cave that points the way forward to an illuminated triangle shaped opening. She leads the Earth spirits that appear as giant boulder beings. She taunts them to follow her. As she runs to the dam, they throw heavy boulders that demolish the dam.
As the dam breaks and the water flows free, Elsa thaws and the water horse saves her in the drowning water. She rides the stallion to Arendelle and to the flood of water from covering the city. The water flows to its balanced space. The mist lifts and the nature spirits are in harmony as a shape of a diamond shines in the sky.
Anna, led by snow crystals, sees Elsa. “You saved me again,” says Anna. Elsa tells Anna, “The spirits all agreed that Arendelle could stand because you did the right thing. A bridge has two sides – we did it together.” Elsa and Anna together formed the 5th element as a bridge that united the 4 elements and united the two peoples.
Olaf speaks words of wisdom throughout the movie, but admits he doesn’t understand it all. “I just need to go talk to some rocks about my childhood.” Ha! and “The Enchanted Forest is a place of transformation.” His main message throughout the movie was that water has memory. “Some things never change. Some things stay the same.” As he fades from Elsa’s waning magic he say’s “One thing is permanent. Love. I like warm hugs. I love you Anna and Elsa.” Once again Olaf is alive with Elsa’s power restored and the memory of water. In the book, The Hidden Messages in Water by Masari Emoto, Emoto provides research that water has memory and can be transformed by people’s thoughts, words, and feelings. The book contains the proof through images of water crystals transformed when words are respectful, accepting, appreciative, and loving along with the opposite.
The story wraps up with Kristoff proposing to Anna and they become the new King and Queen of Arendelle. Elsa visits often. Her new home is in the Enchanted Forest as a protector of the forest with the Northuldran people.
Elsa and Anna along with their friends work together in the spirit of cooperation to assist each other. The sisters help themselves each finding their unique path emerging out of the fog of illusion. They open up to what they are afraid of and work with the difficulties that fall in front of them. Serving each other and making the next best choice guides them through their deepest individual fears. They turn and embrace their fears by using their minds and synthesizing a constructive and balanced way forward. This drive forward built a bridge to heal the past while accepting the challenges that arouse on their individual journey.
Together the sisters learn to merge the dark into the light. Acceptance brings an integration of the higher self with the shadow self. They serve as bonded sisters, in friendships with others, and to community. They find that love aligns, connects, and includes bringing themselves together as individuals, bringing their friendships together, and bringing community together. They discover the magic to life is embracing all that they are, driving forward with directed purpose, and ultimately providing a bridge to unity benefiting all.