Disney / Pixar
Released: June 22, 2012
Merida refuses to be wed off to one of three heirs to Scottish clans, and searches for a way to change her fate.
What I Loved:
Pixar had to upgrade their software to handle Merida’s hair and the clothing details in the film. Merida’s hair is pretty breathtaking. I totally wanted to dye my hair red and get a perm. (Wonder if that will become a trend?) The Scottish landscape, castle, and magical forest were beautiful to behold. One reviewer claimed Brave’s animation “appears neither better nor worse than Madagascar 3 or The Lorax.” (link) I disagree, and with a brother who specializes in 3D animation, I can see the difference in the level of detail, environment texture, use of light and shadows, and overall character design. Brave is far superior in animation to films like Madagascar 3 or The Lorax and anyone who says otherwise clearly does not have a knowledge of the craft.
The Mother/Daughter Conflict
Merida is at battle with her mother over following traditions, accepting female gender roles, and submitting to an arranged marriage. I thought this was a very organic conflict for the time period the film was set in, and yet still very poignant for today’s girls. As a female in today’s world, I still experience conflict over how a female is expected to act and how to get what I want. For example, I still feel like being sweet and compliant are traits expected from women, whereas confidence, assertiveness, and intelligence can get you labeled a cold b***h. One male reviewer cites Brave had a “superficial girl-empowerment theme.” (link) I take offense to that, and calling a movie that empowers women ‘superficial’ is sexist, especially when this is the first time Pixar has tackled women’s issues and what could be a risky move for them in a male-driven movie market. I admired how Pixar handled the resolution to the conflict. The mother represented traditional female values whereas Merida represented a more aggressive and assertive modern woman. In the resolution, in order to break the spell cast on her mother, Merida had to use a blend of traditional and modern. Merida had to sew a tapestry (domestic and traditional) as well as fight with arrow and sword (aggressive and modern). I thought Pixar put a lot of thought into the women’s issues in the film and it gave the film a depth we haven’t seen in princess animated narratives.
Our theater was wild with laughter from children to adults, girls to boys. Parts of the movie were pretty scary and dramatic, so the humor was definitely necessary. Most of the humor came from Merida’s brothers, the scheming and cake-loving triplets. They were hilarious and adorable in their hijinks and mannerisms. Another source of comedic relief were Merida’s suitors. I particularly liked one suitor who spoke so incoherently that no one could understand him. Merida’s mother also got several laughs from the audience, though I’ll refrain from giving away any plot spoilers.
The Celtic Mythology
The wisps, kilts, clans, bear lore, Scottish accents, tapestries, and other bits of Celtic culture gave this fairy tale a fresh feel. It is a culture that hasn’t been explored in any recent animated feature films and was a welcome addition to the movie.
Word of Caution
The bears were quite scary and probably the reason that this animated feature has a PG rating instead of a G rating.
Brave was another outstanding movie from Pixar that I will be purchasing to go alongside my copies of Finding Nemo, Toy Story, and Wall-E. Merida’s journey of discovery is magical, exciting, funny, and heart-warming. I highly recommend this movie to people of all ages, but especially mothers and daughters who will be touched by the story’s conflict.