July 2, 2012

Movie Monday: Brave

My younger cousins are in town and thus I've been spending a lot of time with them.  That includes taking them to Brave on Friday, because I knew they'd want to see that one.  (Okay, okay, I wanted to see it to.)  So how did Pixar do with their first movie featuring a female protagonist?

I've seen a great deal of criticism praising the movie and quibbling with it.  Brave is perhaps the most political children's movie to come out in years.  Everybody has an opinion on whether it is properly feminist or not.  (And I can certainly make some noises of disapproval there - four named female characters to eleven male?)  But I loved how well it displayed two different aspects of femininity without dismissing either one.

Screencap from http://deathbydisney.tumblr.com
Queen Elinor is a force of nature.  She can walk through a fight and quell it with a single look.  She's not just wearing the pants in the family - she lays down the law for the entire land.  But Merida doesn't want to be her mother.  Marrying, raising children, and maintaining peace are all worthy pursuits, but all too domestic for Merida.  She's more like her father, the great warrior king of DunBroch.  (Although she isn't entirely opposed to marriage - she complains to her horse Angus that it's too soon and she's not ready, implying she may be more open to it in the future.)  Merida attempts to use a spell to thwart Elinor's efforts to marry her to one of the firstborn sons of the other three clans, but the magic puts her mother's life at risk.  Merida and Elinor must work together to end the spell.

I loved the action-adventure take on the mother-daughter relationship.  Brave was funny, beautiful, and moving.  My favorite moment was when Merida parallels an act of her mother's earlier in the film, but not copying Elinor exactly because she's a very different person.  They see the value in each other's world view.  Brave doesn't make Merida or Elinor right.  They both had something to learn on their journey.  I thought it was a lovely message.

Brave is not Pixar's best, sadly.  But Pixar's best is astronomical and Brave is certainly no Cars 2.  It's a wonderful movie that will appeal younger and older viewers.  And even if you think you won't like the mother-daughter story, see it for the soundtrack and the awesome bear fights.

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