OK. So I saw Brave and I have to say, well done, Pixar.
Entering the theater, I realized I had no idea what the movie was about. I’d never seen any of the trailers—just the leaked scene featuring Merida’s suitors competing in the archery contest. So, here are 3 reasons I was delightfully surprised by Brave:
[Spoilers after the jump.]
1. There was no love interest. Although there was some competition for Merida’s hand, there was no meet-cute, there was no rough-boy-meets-fair-maiden-and-woos-her, there was no two-childhood-friends-fall-in-love, none of that. In most animated films that champion a brave leading lady, she always gets her man (or the man gets her) in the end. (See: Mulan, Pocahontas, Tangled…) Brave doesn’t reinforce the idea that a woman will only achieve happiness once she finds a man to love her. The threat to marry Merida off acts only as a catalyst for the story’s coming events.
2. Aside from not being a love+adventure story, this was not a coming-of-age story either. It was a story about the complicated relationship between a mother and her daughter. I recall that in most films that take on the mother-daughter dynamic, the story ends with the two women in a teary end-of-movie embrace, having not actually resolved their issues, but arriving at a place of, “I’ll never truly understand you, and I still don’t approve of the way you live your life, but I’ll love you anyway.” In Brave, you watch Merida and Queen Elinor slowly begin to understand one another and come to a place of mutual respect. It doesn’t happen in a flourish, and you can see them both struggle to meet in the middle. There’s something incredibly real about the evolution of their feelings toward each other—even though one of them was a bear.
3. Merida’s hair. The animation for her hair was incredible! I could see every curl!