Last Wednesday I went to the movies to watch Brave together with some friends of mine. We met up in front of the cinema shortly after 10 P.M. – the OV screens only twice a week at 11 P.M. and there was no way anyone of us would have watched it dubbed -, got our booked-in-advance tickets that wouldn’t have been necessary because the theatre was nearly empty anyway and went on to Theatre 5.
First things first as this is going to be a rather long post: The movie was great.
Here’s a teaser for all of you who haven’t seen it yet:
Sadly I couldn’t find a clip of the scene that I loved most (all right, the scene I loved most that wouldn’t spoil), but when you watch the movie, look for the riding archery course scene. I really want to feel like this every morning, every day of my life!
On several blogs I read people complained how Brave failed to be an important piece for the message female empowerment. Or how it was still all about being pretty, with a lot of focus on Merida’s (awesome) hair. I even read that Merida was, in behalf of self-empowered Disney princesses, a step backwards.
I think they don’t get what Brave is about: Unconditional love. Adventure. Small steps.
Merida doesn’t want to rule her clan – and therefore seemingly fails the feminist movement -, she simply doesn’t know if she wants to be married some day, ever, at all, yet, she only knows that she doesn’t want to be married now, especially to some guy she doesn’t know at all. She also wants her mother to accept her love for archery and being outdoors instead of making her the perfect princess. Is it a failure to fight for your right to be free and to be yourself before you aim for higher goals? Obviously, Merida doesn’t even think about a future in which her father isn’t king anymore and therefore needs a successor. And it is also not theme of this movie. Which is good.
And what is bad about being badass while looking good? So many women do it all the time, and most of those times it is greatly admired. But here? It’s a bad thing. The way people write about it sounds as if was the ugly little sibling of lookism. Yes, her hair is awesome. Yes, the costume dress for little girls is sold by the slogan “Look pretty and be brave, too”. Which might be a bit unfortunate. Maybe a reversal of the slogan would have done better. But after all, it’s still Disney, and there is only so much they can do. They gave us a heroic, at some point of the story even self-reflective princess, willing to undo the harm she has done by her spoiled and selfish behaviour. They gave us a princess little girls can look up to that actually does something besides looking pretty. They probably also gave us a new generation of female archers.
Usually, Disney princesses are decorative. That’s about it, that’s their main job (except Tiana, who I also find awesome. I also doubt that Merida will be added to the Disney Princess franchise at all, which I approve of.). This one isn’t. She’s fierce, she fights for her opinion, for her own character, for her choices, as unfortunate they may be in the end. She’s brave.
And seemingly, it still isn’t enough.
That last paragraph has been a little bit more involved than I had planned to, but I had to get this off my chest. I’m sorry.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to look good while you’re badass. I should know. I wear glittery nail polish under my boxing gloves.
The other characters we meet during the film are amazing, too. There is Merida’s father Fergus, the Bear King (what a great title!), often a bit helpless when it comes to social situations, but a brave, able warrior and unifier of the kingdom, Merida’s little triplet brothers who are distilled comic relief, the heads of the other clans, MacGuffin, Dingwall and Macintosh with their respective sons, who (all of them, not only the sons) range from grumpy old man over very choleric to adorkable. And there’s Elinor.
Queen Elinor, voiced by the incomparable Emma Thompson, is Merida’s strong-willed, wise and very, very regal mother. She’s the mind to Fergus’ actions. She’s the woman who renders four clans of fighting men quiet by simply being. She’s lovely. And while she only wants the best of things for her daughter, whom she loves with all her heart, she often pushes everything aside for the sake of the paradigms of royal life. There is a scene at the very beginning of the story, when she dresses Merida for the tournament, where she pauses for a short time in her speech about the perfectness of the horribly tight dress and the duties of a princess, showing her doubts about the way she needs, she has to do things. In the opening sequence we see what an able rider she is, and that she didn’t use to be so stern and severe all the time. She has her duties, and she tries to make the best of all of it, but she can’t always do so.
My heart broke a little when she tried to save everything after the big fight with her daughter. They just pictured it so right.
I’m good at crying during movies, especially animated ones. I also cried during Brave, happy that nobody could see my wet eyes behind the 3D glasses. I love stories about unconditional love, I love stories about strong families and I love Scotland. There was nothing about this film that wasn’t to love.
They created these wonderful landscapes, and I fell in love with Angus, Merida’s horse, as soon as I got a first glimpse at a trailer. Everything about this movie was, and still is, just right.
Brave also was vastly inspiring in behalf of future crafting projects. I think I need that tapestry from the end, a Will-O’-The-Wisp decoration for my room and Merida’s adventure dress. And of course I’m thinking about taking up archery again, this time with regular training.
In the end I can say I loved the movie. It reminded me of The Secret of Kells a lot, maybe because the lead characters kind of look alike. I think if you liked Brave, you’d like The Secret of Kells, too, and vice versa, even though the first one has more action and the second one is a bit calmer. Anyway, it’s a great piece with beautiful visual design, a heart-wrenching, heartwarming story and a great soundtrack that I’ll be proud to add to my collection as soon as it is out on DVD.