Fate, Family & Fun
- Disney/Pixar Studios has been a consistent source for quality entertainment, a staple in Hollywood since Toy Story revolutionized animation in 1995. But throughout the years on top of the box office and critics' lists with many incredibly entertaining and visually brilliant films, Pixar never featured a story with a lead female protagonist. The fun and moving 2012 film Brave has changed this with its story of Princess Merida. However, it would be a shame if all Brave will be remembered for is its female lead character because the entire film is very touching and beautiful.
Princess Merida is not like other princesses seen in film, waiting on a windowsill singing songs about getting married to Prince Charming. No, Merida (voiced by Kelly MacDonald) defines tenaciousness and independence. She loathes her obligations as Princess forced upon her by her mother, Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson); preferring the company of her horse and bow-and-arrow and the freedom of the Celtic countryside. Merida's strong-willed nature suits her well in the great outdoors but it ends up threatening the ruin of her father's kingdom when she defies the betrothal custom of the allied clans. Merida's bravery and dedication to her family is tested when she relies on the hidden magic and sorcery of the land to change her fate.
Brave continues the Pixar tradition of amazing audiences with a terrific balance of beauty, excitement, humor and theme. The animation seen in Brave is one of the finest feats in the Pixar pantheon. Merida's fiery locks fly through a peaceful and palatial Celtic landscape to the magical mysteries of the deep woods, carrying her dreams and our imaginations away with her. A powerful soundtrack accompanies the glorious picture. I am very biased in favor of Celtic music and Brave certainly does not disappoint with a number of toe-tapping pop/folk songs and a soaring orchestral score from the great Patrick Doyle (Henry V (1989), Thor (2011)). Within the context of the Disney/Pixar feature films, the music in Brave is only bested by Thomas Newman's musical contributions (i.e.: this and this) in my view.
What if you could change your fate? I believe Brave answers this question exquisitely; but the family element to the film is also quite moving. The DunBroch clan is the source of some incredible tenderness and humor: Merida's father King Fergus (voiced by Billy Connolly) and Merida's triplet terror brothers give dimension to the love within the family and particularly embody the film's clever sense of humor. Similar to how Pixar great Finding Nemo (2003) was a powerful film about (among other things) the love between a father and a son, Brave is a very touching story about the love between a mother and a daughter. It may be a cliche but mothers and daughters often have a.... complicated relationship. Merida's youth and free-ranging spirit often clashes with her Queen mother's experience and graceful appreciation of tradition. Both love but hurt one another out of a lack of understanding; however, their adventure together opens their eyes towards a new respect for one another as well. The animation, music and humor all contribute significantly to the entertainment quality of Brave but the relationship between Merida and Queen Elinor makes the film especially emotionally investing and altogether special.
CBC Rating: 8/10