Sunday, 19 August 2012

A Brave princess film

It’s been a long time since I saw a kids film at the cinema, in a screen full of small children.  I expected noise, I expected to be frustrated and annoyed, I expected to not be able to follow the film.  In truth, every child was glued to the screen, taking in every moment.  That in itself, proves that Brave is a fantastic film.

Brave is the latest creation of Pixar – the genius animation company that is so good that Disney had to buy it out.  That being said, Brave should not be compared to such Pixar greats as Wall-E or Toy Story.  Brave is latest edition of the Disney princess franchise; a new, improved and evolved Disney princess film.

Gone are the days of the princess who ran into the forest to clean a house belonging to seven dwarves until her prince rescued her, or the girl who cleaned her stepmother’s house until she met her prince, or the princess who slept through it all (good old Aurora).  Society has changed and girls now want something more than just cleaning and waiting for their Prince Charming.
Remember Ariel?  No, not the washing gel.  The red headed mermaid princess who wanted to grow legs and change her fate to find her prince?  Ariel was the first stubborn Disney princess.  Funny how both she and Merida are red headed...

Merida is the Scottish princess who is a tomboy at heart.  She discovers that three clan leader sons will be vying for her hand in marriage.  Merida isn’t ready for marriage and, unlike Jasmine, she doesn’t give in and fall in love with her suitor anyway.  She rebels, she throws a tantrum and she runs away, like every good teenager does when faced with a problem like this.  The next part completely threw me.

I think I expected Merida to want to change her fate as a princess, to discover herself, perhaps by following more male pursuits.  Instead, this is a story about the relationship between Merida and her mother.  It wasn’t what I expected but it was a very pleasant surprise.  Brave is the story of a teenage daughter connecting with her mother; a stormy, scary and ultimately, hopefully, fulfilling relationship.  As a daughter who was once a teenager, I completely understood this film.  Merida and her actions made complete sense to me and, as an adult woman, so did her mothers.  I wonder if men would feel the same way?

The children in the screen certainly enjoyed it although we wondered afterwards just how scary children would find this film.  I vividly remember being scared of certain films when I was small,  Pinocchio and Dumbo mainly – the bullying and vulnerabilities and loss of parental love were too much for me when I was young.  At one point during Brave, a girl near the front screamed.  The girls around us ended the film curled up on their dad’s laps.  As I walked back out into the sunshine, watching these happy children, I wondered how many had been affected by the fear of losing one’s mother. 

Whether you are a child or adult, male or female, Brave is hilarious in places and full of tension and pace in others.  It is a fast moving, short film and it is a wonder to behold.  There are some great talents in this film including Emma Thompson, Julie Walters, Billy Connelly and Robbie Coltrane.  The Scottish scenery is well designed and the music inspiring (I am slightly biased as I am completely in love with Scotland).  Merida’s hair is also incredible and reminded me of the intricate animation involved in Sulley’s (Monsters Inc) fur.  Another thing that sets Pixar far, far apart from Disney are the horses.  I don’t know why Disney can’t draw horses but Pixar sure can.  Not only does Angus, Merida’s horse, actually look like a real horse but he makes the right noises.  Bravo Pixar.

Brave is a film with a strong message of family, tradition and individuality.  Some might be annoyed by Merida’s teenage tantrums.  I admit I cringed when she screamed ‘it’s not fair.’  But these are the actions of a teenager and I dare anyone to find someone who didn’t say ‘it’s not fair’ at least once as a teenager.  Some may have expected more from Brave, especially from the title.  I do think Brave may be the wrong title and was possibly used a marketing ploy to tie it into Braveheart?  
On the other hand, this film isn’t about being brave enough to go out there and change your life.  This film is about being brave enough to listen to those you love, to accept who you are and the world you live in and still be brave enough to keep your individuality and if you can do that, maybe, just maybe, your fate will be changed.

I urge everyone to share this film with their children and show your daughters that there is more to life than waiting for their prince to come!

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