Yesterday was the $5.50 movie Friday pilgrimage. We saw Brave. The original plan was to bring my granddaughters, Haliey and Elizabeth, but they are currently in the company of their mother, who doesn’t play nicely with others. So, I took Ian, ok, so he’s twenty and a guy—minor technicalities!
It was hot outside, and so the theater was busy. And we weren’t expecting much. I was there for the music, and the Celtic (Scottish) landscapes. Both met expectation – even in the animation!
Brave tells a very different sort of Disney/Pixar story. It’s the story of a girl. I know, I know what you’re going to say, what about The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, Snow White?
Pfft! I say. Those are stories about how a helpless, innocent/naive girl is saved, rescued, and elevated to a noble stature through a man. This movie has none of that. Merida doesn’t need, or want, the help of Prince Charming. Well, there isn’t really a Prince Charming, but there are plenty of Prince-Not-So-Charmings. Plenty.
The story begins with the traditional contrary princess, doing all sorts of traditional princessy things: being doted on by her father, having temper tantrums, being trained to be a perfect lady by her mom, the queen (who easily could have been Cinderella or Snow White)—so she can meet and marry Prince Charming.
But then there’s a twist. Merida isn’t interested in Prince Charming. She’s interested in being strong, riding horses, shooting a bow, being free. In an America that is witnessing a “war on women” this was refreshing.
The film was filled with a refreshing feminist commentary: girls can be strong. They can stay in touch with their intuitive side without sacrificing themselves. Girls can ride, and shoot, and still be able to acknowledge the fairies of the forest. A young woman can be balanced.
Even the witch, because every Princess movie has to have a witch, isn’t really scary in the traditional sense. She’s a little OCD, and sort of a one-horse-show. A one bear show. But there is no sense of evil around her. She’s more like the crazy cat, well bear, lady at the end of the road.
There’s no sense of evil around anyone. There are just circumstances, and emotions. I like it. And I like that, in the end, Merida teaches her mother that success can be had outside the box. I like the lesson. Be who you are, stand up for your rights; be brave. It is a lesson that young women need to hear. It is a lesson that older women need to remember having learned. Maybe it’s a lesson that will stick and my granddaughters will live in a world that offers equality. Perhaps, they won’t have to fight for equal pay, equal rights, and the power to make decisions about their own bodies…
Timely film. Well played Pixar. Well played.