Remember Snow White? Sleeping Beauty? They were portrayed as the gentler, weaker sex…damsels in distress in desperate need of a handsome Prince to rescue them. Or so Disney told us over the past 75 years. Now Brave bursts onto the screen, breaking stereo-type and presenting a bold, sassy self-sufficient Princess.
Brave addresses issues that young women encounter every day. Ones place in society, family bonds, and maintaining individuality. This story is told through the eyes of a Scottish Princess, Merida (Kelly MacDonald) who struggles with becoming what she wants to be, even if it means breaking tradition, with fulfilling the womanly duties of a Princess as well as marrying as her mother wishes.
Her soon to be Prince will be determined by an Archery competition between suitable (first born) heirs of the noble clans. Free spirited Meridas’ passion is archery and she realizes that she is first born and competes for her own hand in marriage, completely blowing away the competition. This not only upsets the clans, but her mother who continues to enforce conforming to society.
When Merida discovers a witch in the forest (I guess that’s where all witches are still found in fairy tales) she requests a potion to change her mothers mind. As things never go smoothly in Princess movies, her mother is changed into a bear (a mother bear…get it). Transformation is the underlying theme carried throughout the movie as mother and daughter discover…wait, I almost said too much…no spoilers here.
Rather than the usual fast paced story, this one focuses on developing the characters and their relationships. The fantastic voice acting breathes life into each character (true of most Pixar films). Billy Connolly (Merida’s father, Fergus) and Kelly MacDonald both of Scottish decent, perfectly compliment and highlight the many amusing moments. The most touching aspect of Brave is easily found in Emma Thompson’s (Merida’s mother, Elinor) performance which binds the whole movie together. The supporting roles featuring the voice talents of Craig Ferguson and John Ratzenberger (who’s been in every Pixar film since Toy Story), are momentous. I cannot remember a time when such a perfect cast was assembled.
Pixar performs it’s usual magic and brings extraordinary, awe inspiring animation. The flow of Merida’s curly mane almost makes you want to reach out and caress it. (Not in a creepy way).The environments look like they were filmed on site in Scotland.
The Bottom Line:
Brave is one of the best animated films released over the past few years.