Part of a rather lengthy list of Disney/Pixar films that have passed me by over the years, I finally decided to watch Pixar’s 2012 Academy Award winner this afternoon.
As you may know, it’s about feisty, flame-haired Scottish princess Merida, Pixar’s first female protagonist, as she fights with her mother over being made to follow tradition and marry an eligible suitor. After visiting a witch and obtaining a spell to change her mother and her fate, she inadvertently allows her mother to be turned into a bear and the two of them must repair their bond before the spell becomes permanent.
Merida is a wonderful character: a spirited, passionate, rebellious young woman who is an accomplished archer and hunter, giving Katniss Everdeen a good run for her money! Thoroughly likeable, even in scenes where she fights with her mother, she is brought to life excellently by Kelly MacDonald and is truly one of Disney/Pixar’s most admirable presences. In addition, Emma Thompson is excellent, as you would expect, as Queen Elinor as is Julie Walters who voices the witch marvellously. Plus, you’ve got the likes of Billy Connolly, Kevin McKidd, Craig Ferguson and Robbie Coltrane in supporting roles and they are all spot on.
The film’s dramatic moments, particularly those during the finale, are very exciting and tense, as exciting as any live-action film and in addition, the final heartfelt moment is truly touching and definitely brought a tear to my eye. And of course, the ol’ Disney humour is found throughout, mainly down to Billy Connolly’s King Fergus and Merida’s troublesome triplet brothers. The sparingly used music is also excellent.
Brave certainly has those Disney tropes that we have all come to know; the rebellious princess yearning for her own path, much like Princess Jasmine and Moana, so I’ve heard, as well as spells, comedic sidekicks and a task that must be completed before a given time but in a refreshing change, Merida doesn’t have a love interest and she doesn’t marry Prince Charming at the end. Ultimately, this is great to see, making a change from Disney “tradition” and it’s great that the filmmakers focus primarily on the mother/daughter bond; Merida don’t need no man to fight her battles!
The film has something of the female empowerment vibe about it as many of the male characters simply want to fight each other and boast of their legendary exploits, leading to characters like Queen Elinor and eventually Merida to be the voices of reason, getting them to act responsibly and to see sense. Having these credible, passionate, strong, smart women in the movie is commendable and greatly add to the film’s merits.