Disney-Pixar's Brave Has Heart
- Thursday, June 21, 2012
“Our fate lives within us,” says a determined Princess Merida in Disney-Pixar’s newest animation set in the Highlands of Scotland. “You just have to be brave enough to see it.”
No, Brave doesn’t plunge to the great theological depths of free will and divine foreknowledge, but instead begins with the premise that fate is something that can be changed ... starting with change in our hearts.
As the oldest daughter of good-natured King Fergus (Billy Connolly, Gulliver’s Travels), Merida (Kelly Macdonald, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2) is headstrong and abundantly redheaded. She’s fiercely independent, a talented archer and loves to ride through the woods on her trusty steed, expertly hitting the bull’s-eye of targets along the way. Merida cherishes her freedom, but it is soon threatened by a customary betrothal gathering her parents have long since planned.
“We can’t just run away from who we are,” Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson, Nanny McPhee Returns) says to her daughter upon the royal offspring’s initial protest. Soon, the unruly and uproarious Scottish lords of the land will bring their first-born sons to the castle to compete for Merida’s hand in marriage. And thankfully, the princess gets to choose which game will be the center of suitor competition. Archery it is!
But after the sons try their hand at making their marks, a new and unexpected firstborn arrives on the scene: Merida. “I’ll be shooting for my own hand,” she boldly announces, since technically she is still following the rules. But taking matters into her own hands comes with its own set of consequences, namely conflict with the Queen who only wants to follow tradition and secure a suitable husband and future for her fiery child.
For the rest of the film, mother and daughter dance a highly emotional jig. And during a pivotal argument—after a family portrait tapestry is symbolically torn and a horrible declaration is made (“I’d rather die than be like you!”)—Merida runs away from compromise and into the woods.
When she encounters a curious wood-carving witch (Julie Walters, Gnomeo & Juliet), Merida jumps at the chance to live life on her own terms and purchases a spell—one that she hopes will quickly and easily change her fate. To set everything in motion, the witch conjures up a special cake that Merida will need to serve to the Queen. But she also offers the lass a cryptic rhyme: “Fate can be changed/ Look inside/ Mend the bond/ Torn by pride.”
When the spell goes awry, the Queen Elinor is turned into a bear ... which happens to be the very sort of furry creature King Fergus is chomping at the bit to hunt once again. Merida must hurriedly figure out how to protect her "mama bear" and somehow break the spell.
And interestingly enough, it will involve mending much more than a torn tapestry.
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