Brave

Jun. 23rd, 2012 07:28 pm
liri: (Hawkgirl)
[personal profile] liri
So, Brave, the first thing I watched today.

I really enjoyed it, and liked it more the more I thought about it. 

It starts with "spirited, independent, tomboyish girl who likes weapons refuses her arranged marriage," lacking only the scenes where she kvetches about being forced to do stupid useless woman things like embroidery (relatedly, I noticed that one of the production babies was named Arya.)  There's even the "UGH CORSETS" scene.  Given the role that tapestries and sewing ended up playing, this almost seems like an oversight. 

(I'm certain the costumes are horrifically anachronistic.  I'm pretty sure the hair is, at least the placing of a wimple on an unmarried girl and definitely the grown, married mother wearing her hair loose at the end, and I gather movies always get the tartan thing all wrong... but you know, it's a movie in which people turn into bears.  Big deal.)

And it felt by the end like the writers had read and incorporated many of the criticisms of that plot and those cliches.  Merida's mother, Elinor, is teaching her how to be a queen, not just how to be ladylike for the sake of conventionality.  Merida's arranged marriage isn't just an arbitrary piece of tradition placed as an obstacle for the heroine, it's necessary because personal loyalties (and personal respect; the men seem to value Elinor's opinion more than her husband's, and there's the way she stops a fight just by walking through the room) are all that's keeping the clans from pitched battle.  They end up in a brawl when they arrive to compete for Merida's hand and break out the weapons when Merida upsets the proceedings.  Femininity vs. masculinity in this movie is order vs. chaos, not convention vs. freedom.

The climax of the movie involves Merida sewing on horseback in hopes that mending a torn tapestry will break the spell, and the ending shows Merida and her mother riding horses together but also indicates they worked together on a new tapestry - putting as much value on "women's work" as on women doing activities associated with men.  It reminded me, a little, of the emphasis on embroidery in "A Bride's Story."  Though it's also worth pointing out that Elinor's shown to be a good rider at the very beginning, when Merida's about three; it's not something she took up for Merida.

I loved the bear-obsessed witch, and her voicemail system.  I really enjoyed the relationship between Merida's parents, too, and the fact that the tall, muscular fella apparently hooked up with long-suffering Maudie by the end.  And I liked the post-credits scene. 
It'd be nice if it did well enough to steer Disney/Pixar movies to more of a middle road, so you don't have the Girl Movies with princesses, ballgowns and weddings and the Other Movies with toys, things to do, and "gender-neutral" appeal with no female characters to speak of; as we were leaving I noticed a little Merida in her Official Disney Princess Dress and bow.  (Like... archery bow.  Not hair bow.)  I don't know if it'll work, but it'd be nice.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-06-28 05:28 pm (UTC)
quicksilver_ink: A person hugs a fuzzy beast called an alot. The text says "I care about this alot." (care alot)
From: [personal profile] quicksilver_ink
The start of the movie with its fairly standard "she's a tomboy! she's rebelling!" montage had me worried that the solution to the arranged marriage problem was going to be to find a prince somewhere and marry him. So I was very, very happy that Pixar ended the movie without Merida romantically involved with anyone (also, it was nice that the sons of the clan leaders got to say that that they weren't particularly thrilled with arranged marriage either). I was too busy being happy about that to realize that the ending had Merida and her mother doing both "tomboy" and "traditionally feminine" activities together -- that's a good point. I was on the fence as to whether to go see it again (the local theatre is a nonprofit co-op, and it's only up for another week), but I think your analysis has convinced me to go again. :)

I do hope it does well, and that we can start getting Pixar and Disney movies where the main character is a girl, but it's not a movie about her being a girl.

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