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Pardon my enthusiasm, but it's about time someone made a movie about a princess who isn't swooning over a boy and dying to get married!
In Pixar's "Brave," Merida is a Scottish princess with a wild mane of curly red hair and insane archery skills. Even though her mother has brought her up to be a proper lady, fit to run the clan, the young lass would prefer to ride through the highlands on her giant Clydesdale, Angus.
When her parents initiate a contest for the eldest sons of the other clansmen to win her hand in marriage, Merida takes a stand for her independence. This does not go over well with her mother, and after an angry confrontation, the princess runs away, following the Will o' the Wisps (a ghostly light that appears to lead traveler's through the dark bogs of Scotland) to a bear-loving witch. And everything changes when Merida wishes for the power to change her fate.
As I mentioned, it's high time our girls were presented with a princess who is athletic, independent, and confident. Disney princesses in the past have been criticized for their unreasonable beauty and desire to be married at such a young age.
I remember as a child that Belle was my favorite because she loved to read, and in the end, she saved the Beast, not the other way around. Here is an animated role model that I wouldn't mind my future daughters taking after.
The relationships in this film are also notable. Disney movies are often joked about because the parents are never together. In Brave, the parents love each other, even after four children (three of whom are triplets). Children need to see healthy parental relationships like that because it shows them that picking their future mate is serious business; they should know for sure they are in love.
Finally, there is the relationship between Merida and her mother, Queen Elinor. They are constantly butting heads, which as any mother of a teenage girl knows, is an unhappy reality. However, instead of focusing on Merida's growth on her own, "Brave" follows the relationship between mother and daughter as Merida grows up and the two grow closer.
The contrast between "Brave" and "The Little Mermaid" is significant. Ariel was dying to be independent of her father, and while she fights to save him, her focus is not on developing their relationship, it is still about getting away from her life as a mermaid. Brave focuses on strong family values, and it should be commended for that.
I'd also like to point out how awesome it was to have a movie set in Scotland where all the characters have Scottish accents. Though I'm not sure how effective Snow White would have been if she had a German accent or if Belle had a French accent in Beauty and the Beast, the authenticity of Brave really draws you into the setting.
Along with the fantastically rendered scene shots (my 3D artist fiance only pointed out one flaw in the whole movie, which is really saying something), the end result was a beautiful movie that presents some great family values and lessons and a breathtaking view to boot.