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The Film Society have finally caved into demands and hosted a Disney Pixar month, the member polls showed that the first film of the season would be Brave (2012) and I have to admit I was slightly disappointed.  Pixar have produced so many beloved films that when they release new ones there are high expectations, and unfortunately Brave doesn’t quite hit the Pixar spot.

Brave tells the cliché Scottish tale of Princess Merida (Kelly MacDonald) a girl buried under a head of giant red curls, who would rather climb trees and tear up the surrounding forest on her horse than obey her mother, Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson). Merida’s refusal to take her role as a princess seriously and choose a man to marry means that her and her mother come into conflict, especially since her father, King Angus (Billy Connolly) can stand up to the evil bear Mordu, but not his daughter.

The kingdom is made up of separate clans who have all agreed to be loyal to each other and not go to war as long as the first born daughter marries one of their sons, but in a not so typical Disney fashion Merida does not have a knight in shining kilt.  Brave focuses entirely on the mother daughter bond rather than that of the father and the characters aren’t driven by true loves kiss which is really refreshing, but Brave sends off mixed messages about morals and stability that means the upheaval in Disney princess stories is easily overlooked.

Merida is annoyed that she has to marry and grow up; she blames her mother and wishes her dead while ripping up the coveted family tapestry with a sword. In a desperate attempt to change her fate she follows a Willow the Wisp (a forest spirit) who leads her to a witch (Julie Walters). Merida decides that the only way to change her fate is to change her mother, so the witch weaves her spell, but as we all know, Disney spells never go to plan.

Although this film provides laughter and a cute feeling inside, the messages that are given off can be misinterpreted. For example: ‘if you act like a brat you can get away with it as long as you say sorry’ which I personally feel is a bit on the empty side.  Obviously Brave isn’t as simple as that and a lot happens that gives Merida the chance to redeem herself, but she very nearly causes a war between the clans which is a pretty big deal.

Brave is still an enjoyable addition to any Pixar collection but is by no means the best, the idea of females motivating the story and something other than love being the catalyst is definitely an interesting one and something I hope Disney pursues further in the future.

 

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