Change Your Fate

I saw Brave today, so here’s an attempt at a review. (Also I did almost have my whole review written out then one fell keystroke made it go) But there may be spoilers ahead so read with caution.

Now, from the time I started hearing rumours and seeing various leaks about Brave I immediately felt like this was a film I had somehow been waiting for my whole life.

A princess movie with a twist? Pixar’s first female lead movie? Set in Scotland?
You get the picture.

One of the main points of this film for me was in fact the backgrounds and environments. Pixar really went to town on this film and it really shows. Forests, lochs, castles, ruins, mist, mountains, hills are all beautifully done and done in such a way you feel you are there.

Now onto the more picking apart bit.

In a way this film has a pretty basic plot. Princess has a tomboyish streak, mother is insistent on her being a ‘proper lady’, daughter and mother come to blows over it, princess decides to take fate into own hands and it goes pear-shaped.

Yet although this is a ‘rebellious princess’ (to borrow from TV tropes) film Pixar manages to handle it pretty well and put a bit of a spin on it.

Now often in this sort of story the ‘princess’ is portrayed in such a way that everyone would agree with her and that yes it isn’t fair and she’s totally justified and her parents just don’t understand and they are mean.
But in Brave, they manage to do it in such a way that somehow you can understand both sides of things. You can agree that Merida has every right to be annoyed about being betrothed and yes her mother isn’t listening but you can also see that Elenore has her own valid point, and yes Merida is being maybe a bit too bratty.

Often also the princess can go off and be rebellious and there’s no real consequences. Not so in this story. Merida after having a very large row with her mother storms off into the woods, there she encounters a ‘whittler’ who she persuades to make a spell to ‘change her mum’ (note specifics are very important when making spells) and it does change her mum but not in a way that’s how she wanted.

This film is interesting as it focuses on the relationship between the protagonist and their mother, that doesn’t seem to happen very often in any media. So in a way Brave is a nice change. There’s an absence of mothers I’ve noticed in a lot of media.

The film does end with a pretty typical Disney/Pixar happy ending. It’s nice though as it shows Merida and Elenore have reached an accord and they’re finally starting to listen to each other. Merida is seen helping work on a tapestry and then she and Elenore go off for a ride in the sunset. Yes the ‘parents and child understand each other’ plot has been done a million times over but I quite liked it. I also liked how in this one they highlighted on just how much of a mess Merida had made of things, throughout a large chunk of the film she’s shifting blame when she ends up realising it was in fact her fault this happened and she needs to ‘grow up’ and face her mistake. It’s a nice bit of character development, she realises that as princess she does have a lot of responsibilities and as much as she wants her freedom she must keep that in mind. Elenore has realised that the old ways aren’t necessarily the best ways so she’s also has a change of heart, which leads to the scrapping of the betrothal challenges.

Pixar managed to create a very realistic feeling family here. There’s little hints that just make it more complete. Like a conversation between Fergus and Elenore where she admits that when she was bethrothed that she wasn’t sure about it and there’s this really subtle pause and look from Fergus that speaks louder than anything else.

There’s no real antagonist in this film in a way. Most of the strife and the like is off the very realistic family arguments. Although Mal’Du is a real threat and a running thing throughout the film the focus wasn’t on him. In a way his death was rather interesting. It’s very much the ‘Disney Death’ he falls victim to the ‘crushed by something’ variety, doing this releases his spirit (basically the tale of Mal’Du ties in with the spell Merida has used) and in a nice touching moment he turns into a Wisp before fading away.

This film is also rather dark in places, it’s no more dark than anything Disney films have thrown at us. Although they do actually use terms like ‘kill’, ‘die’ and ‘murder’ and various references are made to how King Fergus wants to do in the demon bear, and right at the start although it fades to black the attack of Mal’Du is rather ominous and almost had me thinking King Fergus had been killed. Keep this in mind if you want to take young children to watch this. This film does have it’s fair share of comedic moments, most though are of the ‘slapstick’ variety and most of that is provided by the antics of the rambunctious triplets.

In summary, beautiful visuals, nice take on the princess story, got some good slapstick humour type moments and jokes, rather dark in places. Worth a watch.


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  1. Trackback: The Sea Queen « Dead Men Tell No Tales

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