You’ve all seen the posters, and there’s no way you could have missed that amazing red hair. Plus, us here at Ginger Parrot have practically been ramming down your throats. So here’s the one we’ve all been waiting for: Pixar’s Brave.
First and foremost, full disclosure – I have not had great experiences with Disney films. When the trailers for Lilo & Stitch came out I thought “YES! A sociopathic blue alien-dog that causes unmeasurable chaos on fellow Disney characters! This is what I’ve needed all my life”. Actually, that was not the case.
I saw a trailer for Bolt before another film, and I thought “Sure, the dog seems interesting BUT HOLY CRAP THERE’S AN INSANE HAMSTER TRAPPED IN A PLASTIC BALL!”. And while Rhino was awesome, he was pretty underused and didn’t make up for Bolt himself being overly sincere.
The Toy Story series won me back slightly, but the damage was done – I didn’t trust Disney to not completely nerf their best characters.
So, when the trailer for Brave came out starring a feisty ginger lass by the name of Princess Merida; shooting arrows, riding horses, taking on bears and basically being a Scottish badass – I naturally had reservations.
But I am now pleased to tell you, that thankfully, Brave has returned my faith in Disney.
Visually, this is by far the most stunning animation I’ve ever seen. Merida’s rich red hair (which is what we’re all reading this for!) jumps off the screen in every single scene with a life of it’s own.
The level of detail given to the characters – from the chin hair on the witch to the detail on the King’s wooden leg – is incredible, and the team at Pixar has proven once again why they are the best at what they do.
And as you’d expect from a film made about a Scottish princess, there is ancient Scottish culture popping up everywhere – from haggis to bagpipes to ancient Gaelic runes, it’s all here. And it makes the entire film feel authentic – as if you’re exploring the Highlands at the same time as watching the story unfold.
Whilst sticking to Disney’s traditionally strong family values, Brave also threatens to break them: right from the start we see the tension between Merida and the Queen (her Mum) over a question of fate that threatens to break the family and drop the clans into war.
It’s not just a question of fate for Merida either – it’s a larger metaphor for following the traditions that build a culture’s identity and knowing your personal identity, represented by the Queen and Princess Merida respectively. It’s a welcome change as well to see the story played out between two exceptionally strong female characters too.
Power to the girls and the gingers!
Merida is clearly a powerful young woman; the “one day off” scene where she rides on horse-back through the forest firing arrows at well-worn targets then climbs a rock face to drink from a waterfall is the sort of imagery Pixar and Disney are famous for.
At the same time, the Queen is clearly a force to be reckoned with – while the men in this may battle/play-fight and beat their chests, they quickly pull their heads in and defer to the authority of the Queen (and eventually Merida too).
Not to say they’re not vital to the story, but Brave is ultimately about the relationship between mother and daughter, traditional expectations verses personal identity. And rather than go with a “traditional” resolution, Brave gives both characters the opportunity to grow and respect each other in a way that makes the end all the more special.
Also, Brave is damn funny! The ginger triplets completely steal every scene they’re in, the King’s “pretend I’m Merida” scene is hilarious, Merida’s suitors and their fathers are a great mix of characters, and Merida herself has a wicked sense of humour (I mean, don’t all gingers?). Even the Queen shows her funny side when she’s affected by the witch’s spell and is “transformed”. That’s not a spoiler, by the way!
I honestly can’t recommend Brave enough – it has all the magical warm-heartedness we’ve learned to expect from Disney and Pixar, whilst allowing its characters to grow instead of reducing them toward the end.
It would have been nice to see more of the sons who came to compete for Merida’s hand as they had a lot of comedy potential, but it’s fairly minor. And if there’s a girl out there with a strength of character and hair like Merida’s, I want to meet her!
Special mention needs to go to La Luna too, the animated short film played before Brave starts – it’s short, sweet, and had me bordering on happy tears before Brave had even started. Which totally justifies me being a wet cheeked at the end of Brave… yup, totally justified… STOP STARING AT ME, I’M STILL A MAN DAMMIT!
I guess what I’m trying to say is…
Definitely a 4.5 of out 5 in the curly-haired ginger princess category. Check out the trailer if you don’t believe me!