The Huntsman: Winter’s War is a story about how our perceptions color reality. It happens several times over in the story. First, Ravenna convinced her sister that the love of her life had killed their baby and didn’t love her at all. Then, because we often do unto others as was done to us, her sister did the same to Eric and Sarah. She convinced Sarah that Eric was a coward and had abandoned her. She convinced Eric that Sarah was dead. It took Sarah a long time to trust Eric once reunited, because she was convinced he would abandon her again and was ever looking for proof of that. (Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me—right?!)
So what changed? Eric realized the truth first. It was easier for him because the lie he had been told was easily refutable. Sarah wasn’t dead. When he saw she lived, he realized the truth—the Snow Queen had lied to him…and she had lied to Sarah too. The lie to Sarah was harder to refute. How did she know he hadn’t abandoned her? It was his word against what she had seen, or thought she had seen. The problem was, not only was what she saw incomplete and misleading, but the motives she attributed to his actions were nothing more than assumptions. They weren’t even good or helpful assumptions. They were bad assumptions based on the poisonous, hurtful things the Snow Queen had been telling her about the nature of Eric as well as the nature of love. Little by little though, Eric’s actions began to speak the truth to Sarah’s heart. She saw his faithfulness, his bravery, his willingness to sacrifice his life for hers. She began to trust in him, and in love again.
The Snow Queen herself came around as well. She caught something her sister said that revealed the truth about her own past. She finally saw her sister for the liar and the murderer that she was. When that happened she quit agreeing with her sister’s thoughts about love—that it was a lie, a trick, that it was nothing more than a manipulation to control her, etc. She softened, because she made room in her heart again for even the idea of love and when that happened, she freed her captives. (Side note: When the Snow Queen lost her baby, because she couldn’t have a child of love, she settled for an army of child soldiers instead—because we often substitute loyalty and being admired for being loved. Though common, don’t be fooled—admiration and loyalty are poor substitutes for love, as this movie shows very well.)
Here is what is interesting to me. At the beginning, what Eric and Sarah believe about each other’s love is fragile and easily countered by deception. All the Snow Queen had to do was show Sarah that Eric left and she was convinced their love was a lie. Later, however, their love is a more mature, solid thing that could withstand some seriously misleading appearances. So much so that when Sarah shots Eric in the chest with an arrow, he wasn’t concerned. He knew she wasn’t trying to kill him, though all of his friends were convinced she was. His reality was not defined by the circumstances but by his beliefs.
I dare say, this is pretty much always the case—that our reality is determined not by our circumstances but by what we believe. This is why it is critical that we know the truth. It’s why it is critical that we don’t listen to the enemy. Make no mistake, we have an enemy who is every bit as hateful and deceptive as Ravenna. He is always in our ear, lying to us, shading the way we interpret the facts, encouraging us to make really bad assumptions about people’s motives, convincing us that we aren’t loved and that God (much less people) can’t be trusted. And as long as we aren’t sure what we think about God, we’ll not only believe the enemy (because it feels safer to believe him than to make ourselves vulnerable to the idea that we are loved), but we’ll see all our circumstances as proof of those lies.
When, however, we know the truth, that we are so loved that God gave his only begotten son to die for us, suddenly, it doesn’t matter what the circumstances suggest. We will find that we are like Eric, shot to the heart with an arrow (narrowly saved by a necklace on his neck), convinced that it was a sign of Sarah’s love and devotion—that that very arrow wasn’t meant to hurt us but to protect us. We’ll be so convinced that, like Eric, we’ll be able to say, “I don’t need you to believe what I believe”—because we will know that we are loved and that knowledge will determine how we interpret all the facts around us.
When Eric finally confronts the Snow Queen, he asks an interesting question. “Why didn’t you kill us back then? Why did you break my heart and turn hers against me?” Death would have been simple, but the Snow Queen hated love itself. She had been hurt by love (or so she thought) so she wanted to destroy love. This is why she didn’t just kill Eric and Sarah. Our enemy is no different. He hates God, Love Himself, and he’s out to destroy Love. So rather than just killing us, he speaks in lies, breaking our hearts and turning them against God.
How do we fight that? With love. The Bible says that love covers over a multitude of wrongs (Proverbs 10:12) and that, “Perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18). The more we grow to trust the perfect love of God, the less susceptible to the lies of the enemy we will be.
Questions for Discussion:
- In the movie, how did what the main characters believed affect the way they interpreted what they thought they saw/knew? In other words, how was their perception of reality colored by what they believed—for good and for bad?
- How were Ravenna’s and the Snow Queen’s lies a lot like the lies Satan tells us?
- Why do you think we tend to hurt people in the way we have been hurt?
- Have you ever tried to substitute loyalty and admiration for love? (Or do you know people who have?)
- How does love cover over wrongs? What does that mean? How did you see that in the story?
- How does love cast out fear? What does that mean? How did you see that in the story?