{film} Brave

There are many things to commend Brave (2012). Commentary regarding the music has run rampant. The voice talent was brilliant. And the story has you laughing uproariously, tense and dread-filled, and you very well may cry. The daughter was the only dry eye in our particular row.

<shockingly spoiler-free review to follow>

Set in Scotland in a rugged and mythical time, “Brave” features Merida, an aspiring archer and impetuous daughter of royalty. Merida makes a reckless choice that unleashes unintended peril and forces her to spring into action to set things right.~Disney’s synopsis

Many a trailer suggests that the story will be about a girl and her father. And yet there is still little surprise that this really is a film about mothers and daughters. Merida (Kelly Macdonald) and her mother Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson) are having a difficult time communicating with one another among other things. There is an amusing sequence that is quick to turn serious when the King (Billy Connolly) encourages his wife to pretend he is Merida and practice saying what it is she really wants to say. This sequence cross-cuts with Merida conversing with Angus (her horse) as if he were her mother. It is easy to sympathize with both sides, though modern-minded audiences will understand Merida better. And in the end, the film’s sympathies lie with the more modern-minded, feminist sensibilities—whether the ending actually supports said sensibilities has been opened for debate. Fortunately, however, for our deuteragonist Elinor, we see that the film is populated by many a brave and worthy character. Elinor is the source of a lot of humor, but she is also the source of a lot of the heart of the film.

Brave is a great family film. It has the silliness and the tenderness we have come to expect with a Pixar animated story. However, the story itself will tread little that is new ala its Disney association and the princess story. The animation is top-notch; that red-hair and the wilds of Scotland are mesmerizing. This film was a highly anticipated one in our house. We are happy to say we were not disappointed. It was nice to not go in with a clear understanding of what the story would be, and better still that the story is one we look forward to enjoying many times more. What makes one brave is not always the most obvious action, but it always involves the most difficult—Brave handles the many nuances nicely enough, and very entertainingly.


of note: The rating is PG. There is a particularly intense section near the end. Notably, we actually see the death of a Disney villain (who doesn’t just “disappear” into an abyss or what-not). I know we are eager for good family movies and the theater experience with our young, but just a caution here… take your significant other and have a lovely date of it and leave the youngest ones with a sitter.

I was struck by the fact that Princess Merida has a powerful and active mother; very few Disney Princesses can claim this one, now can they? I like it. Elinor is complicated enough to play both the source of conflict and the source of healing.

Also, I find it interesting the resolution to the problem Merida is facing (pre-spell) is a good one, but one that also leaves the promise of a betrothal down the road (for when the boys and Merida have a bit more time to grow up?). The solution isn’t necessarily that she will be free to run about the wild as long as she wants, because husband or no, her mother’s lessons aren’t for naught—as we see who really runs things. And really, who else is going to be able to keep those triplets in line?

Those interested in feminist perspective in story/film, Brave has plenty of fodder. Manohla Dargis shares a few remarks on the subject in her review (linked below), but I was taken with Roger Ebert’s closing line of his review, “”Brave” seems at a loss to deal with her as a girl and makes her a sort of honorary boy.” I’ll want another go with the film before I follow any of my conclusions.

————- a bit of the music—————–

—————-Brave 2012——————-

Directed by Mark Andrews & Brenda Chapman (who had left over creative differences); written by Mark Andrews, Steve Purcell, Brenda Chapman & Irene Mecchi, based on an original story by Brenda Chapman; music: Patrick Doyle; produced: Katherine Sarafian; Disney-Pixar. Voice Talents: Kelly Macdonald (Merida), Emma Thompson (Queen Elinor), Billy Connolly (King Fergus), Kevin McKidd (Lord & Young MacGuffin), Craig Ferguson (Lord Macintosh), Robbie Coltrane (Lord Dingwall) & Julie Walters (Witch).

Running time 100 minutes | Rated PG

IMDb link Wiki Page.

Darghis’ NY Times review (kinda meh, but has a few interesting points). Roger Ebert’s Review.

LA Times article about Brenda Chapman’s–ahem–removal.

for some great concept art!

{images belong to Disney Pixar}

Published by L

I read, and I write. and until recently, I sold books.

6 thoughts on “{film} Brave

  1. Thanks for the review. This is one that I’ve been excited about, but hadn’t yet decided whether or not I’d make it to the theater to watch. Now it’s looking like I’m gonna have to find a sitter for Avonlea so Keisha and I can make it.

    Side: Is this movie as heart-tugging and eye-tearing as Up?

    1. They upped the sound technology on this film and seeing the animation on a big screen is lovely (we saw 2D). so at least catch the dollar. The girls (Nate and her two best friends) made the decision to go easy, but we were in some conflict because of Batman’s release!

      side: not as heart-tugging and eye-tearing as UP, but good question because I was totally fishing for tissues out of my purse at UP. And it took months not to hear that musical refrain without tearing.

      After an intense fight scene, we are thrown into a very emotional kind of tension, but they recover with humor, as Pixar is wont. tears seemed the most cathartic choice.

  2. I was really impressed with the film and am so glad we saw it in the theater, it is so wonderful, visually, on the big screen.

    For the most part I’ve disagreed with the critics on this one. I read a lot of criticism that Pixar doesn’t push boundaries with this one and I find the idea that Pixar needed to push boundaries somewhat ridiculous. First of all one has to remember that this is a movie for children, or families, and does not need to forge new roads. One of the many reasons stories are told over and over again is that there is always a new crop of kids who haven’t seen those stories.

    I also disagree somewhat because what I saw in Brave that I see in few animated movies was that both parents were treated respectfully and they kept a really nice balance between not overly-vilifying any of the characters. Merida wasn’t overly bratty or rebellious to the point of being unlikable and her parents weren’t fools nor were they overbearing in their expectations. I myself actually disagreed with much of Ebert’s review, including the “honorary boy” comment. What I think the story actually did was leave the ending with the realization that these are all, boys and girls, still kids. And yes, given the historical setting of the film there is going to most likely be some marriage in the future if only to continue the race. It seems a bit sexist to me to look at Merida as being “boyish” in any way just because she wasn’t naturally inclined to the typical “feminine graces” (my emphasis). But that’s just me.

    My wife commented on the way out that it was nice to see a movie with a female heroine who didn’t have to be rescued by a suitor or potential suitor. And we both love ‘typical’ romantic movies but we both agreed on this, it was a nice change.

  3. “they kept a really nice balance between not overly-vilifying any of the characters.” I love this about the film, too. There is even some sympathy for the bear, and the witch is hardly terrifying, is she?
    And like you and your wife, I love, how she doesn’t need rescuing, Merida and the mother.

thoughts? would love to hear them...

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