Now That I’ve Seen “Brave” myself…

…I want to share my own brief review of the movie in light of my link to Steven Greydanus’ review yesterday. Princess Merida is “Brave’s” Taylor Swift-ian heroine (assuming Swift were a red-haired Scottish lass with a penchant for archery) who is faced with being forced to marry whoever wins an athletic competition for her hand. This is tradition, her mother insists, and she tries to prepare her daughter for her destiny. In explaining her reasoning, the mother invokes a legend about a past King who chose to follow his own individual path, but wound up destroying himself and the unity of the kingdom as a result. Since Merida’s father is the King, she has a responsibility to follow the path life has chosen for her according to her mother.

Merida, however, insists she doesn’t want to get married yet and wonders ‘what about love’ in her future marriage (though she doesn’t break into the “Heart” song since this isn’t a Disney musical). This sets off the initial conflict which then leads to even bigger conflicts that I won’t mention here in order to keep the element of surprise alive.

Thematically, “Brave” is largely a story about a mother and daughter who are at odds. Though I’m single and not a parent myself, I suspect a lot of families will find this realistic in a metaphorical sense because mothers with tween or teen daughters do tend to butt heads now and then (or so I’ve been told). The movie’s resolution may result in them appreciating each other and listening to each others’ points-of-view more openly. In fact, a friend commented on Facebook, “My daughter has been glued to my hip since we saw it a few hours ago.”

The film also manages to find a balance between Merida’s yearning to exercise her individuality with her responsibility to family and community. In a more simplistic movie, Merida’s quest might have ended with her finding herself and following her own path, since total freedom and individualism are often seen as the highest values in society today. “Brave” doesn’t follow a simplistic route though, so it leaves viewers with a more nuanced solution.

Of course, all the message-y stuff wouldn’t matter much if “Brave” weren’t also a fun, funny, compelling story with stunning animation. Thankfully, it is that as well. While some scenes may be too intense for young kids, “Brave” is definitely a film the whole family can see together.

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