“Are you willing to pay the price your freedom will cost?”
Pixar to date has produced: WALL-E, Toy Story, Toy Story 2, Toy Story 3, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, A Bug’s Life, The Incredibles, Cars, Cars 2, Up and Ratatouille. With all of these films (for the most part) being fantastically brilliant pieces of entertainment there is one element that makes them obviously not fit in with the general Disney mode of movie making. None of them are, or ever truly aspired to be, a fairy tale.
Brave is the studio’s first foray into the princess mythos that Disney loves to reside in so much over decades. However, unlike the general Disney approach Pixar decides to make the film about a princess proving herself to be worthy of writing her own destiny rather than trying to run towards that princess-like destiny of falling in love with the prince she’s been waiting for all her life.
The film draws on not only great fairy tale tropes of magic from witches and fun castles all along the Scottish landscape of the Highlands in the best way possible. While this movie does spend a lot of time in the dark, something that I’m getting more and more annoyed with in 3D films (not their fault, just more difficult to watch due to shoddy projections in my cinema), the moments where we’re being initially introduced to the landscape is immensely wonderful. If seeing Merida’s curly red locks wasn’t enough to pop your eyes of out their sockets then watching her climb pillars doing her archery training will. This film, like all of Pixar’s movies, is gorgeous and that is a fact.
It’s as if the biggest complaint I can muster about this movie is that it feels much more like a Disney film than a Pixar one. Pixar has always been about making the ordinary seem extraordinary, from making a rat become the great chef in all of Paris to bringing our toys come to life and be on adventures, they’ve always amazed. However, here we’re limited to what Disney and only Disney would do when given an opportunity to tell a story. That being, for it to just be about someone discovering the importance of something they don’t see the true value of from the beginning.
That argument completely fails for the simple reason that I like that kind of movie. I am slightly disappointed that Pixar is now mining that field of dreams rather than the one they’ve been having such great results digging into over the past fifteen plus years, but that’s like complaining that sugar is sweet. I still love sugar.
Strong female protagonists are always welcome in the world of cinema, as far as I’m concerned. With constant mention of the infamous Bechdel Test, the test which asks if there are women (named) in the film which discuss something other than men in the film, it’s great to have a film which keeps the feminine aspect intact while creating a role model for the young girls pushing their mothers and fathers to take them out to watch the movie.
The relationship between Elinor (Emma Thompson) and Merida (Kelly Macdonald) is the driving force of the film. The difference in opinion over traditions and which ones are worth continuing and which are not is what causes a rift to then propel the story into the fairy tale, or legend as this film would rather I call it, to bring out the real truth that we are supposed to learn.