At last, a princess with guts!
Merida, oldest child of Lord Fergus, is expected to choose a son of select clans in marriage. The problem: Merida, allowed by Lord Fergus to become expert with bow and arrow as a child and allowed to live a life of freedom in her countryside, is not particularly interested in becoming a "proper lady" and wedding someone in whom she has no interest. She sees her mother as the controlling, adversarial force in her life, and makes some really wrong moves to neutralize her, only to find that the bond between mothers and daughters, though sometimes strained, is deep -- when both mother and daughter can look past the parent/child role and see that the footing of their relationship is grounded in mutual respect.
Yeah. I can resonate with that. My mother and I got along like ice water and smoking oil until I established my own household, and then for years we were best fishing buddies and spent hours on the phone almost every day.
The animation of this movie is extraordinary, the imaging of the countryside so beautiful I wanted to visit Scotland. In addition, I felt that the animators finally lived up to the movement of horses and dogs. In all prior animated features, horses and dogs looked like they were drawn/produced by people who never watched a horse or dog walk, run, or react.
One of the aspects of this story that I found interesting was that Merida was not the victim of circumstances; she was neither poisoned, cursed, nor downtrodden. She could probably have evaded the marriage that she was expected to make. Her conflict was born of her own spirit; she was to blame for the spell that affected her family. Her anger and her desire to fulfill her own aspirations led her into her adventures -- and it was up to her to stand up to the dangers, as well as to re-integrate with her family's support.
Again, as with so many films, I could not see that 3D would have enhanced the experience of the viewer.
Terrific movie, can't wait to own it on DVD.
With July Fourth coming up this week, it is appropriate to note that we Americans have always had a softy spot for stories about the underdog who does well. We like the tales about those who are oppressed who struggle against the system and win out in the end ... kind of like how we all did it to Brits back in 1776. I mean sure, we liked Sally Fields (kinda) as Gidget and as the Flying Nun, but she didn't win the Oscar until she took on the corrupt factory owners in Norma Rae. Or Jesse "The Body" Ventura who went from the professional wrestling ring to the Minnesota Governor's office by asking people not to vote for "politics as usual."
I know a thing or two about being oppressed and feeling powerless in the system. I am an unordained Catholic male. Yes, I know all the stuff about the Catholic Church being a chauvinistic patriarchy, and indeed, the top spot in the Church is available only to men. Most Catholics I know aren't overly concerned about that any more than they are that Jesus was a boy child. Part of the reason for that is our understanding of the ordained priesthood, and part of the reason is that we know that while the top spot is ceded to a man, the real power, the day to day organizational movers and shakers of the Church are women -- nuns, catechists, mothers, and the wardens of parish resources, the church secretaries. After this come the priests, and then the deacons, then those with degrees in Religious Studies, Catholic school janitors, youth ministers, altar servers, ushers, and then finally, unordained males.
The lowly status of unordained males is in no small part due to the fact that, as a group, they are often quite clueless.
I mention all of this because Sand and I went to see Brave this past week. It is the story of Merida, a princess in a fictional medieval time period in Scotland. Merida is oppressed by the demands placed on her by her position in life. She has been groomed by her mother (the real power in the land) to be ready to take her place as the new Lady of the Land, as the wife of the eldest son of one of the other clans' leaders, as is required of her by the traditions of her people. Merida rebels against the system, refusing to accept the role she is expected to play, and in her rebellion, brings a curse on her family that endangers the lives of her mother and brothers and threatens to cast the clans into war. Merida must use all of her resourcefulness to avert disaster.
Now in just a moment, I am going to heap praise on this movie. But be forewarned! In this story, every male is portrayed as either a testosterone blinded lummox, or a witless git. Every single one of them is used exclusively for comic relief.
So be it, you say, it's about time for a little reality in the movies. If indeed you are not offended by a display of female chauvinism, then Brave is a really, really good movie. It is one more in the line of animated features that combines excellent art with good writing to produce great entertainment. The writing is crisp and fun. There are no dull moments, and indeed, there are a lot of laughs. While there is a moral to the story, there is no saccharin preaching. And while this is really pretty much adolescent chick lit, it is well enough done that it can certainly appeal to the whole family.
You've heard me say it before -- there is a new Golden Age of animation unfolding. Daughter or mother, lummox or git, you'll get your money's worth from this film.