I know I am a bit late to the game on this film. Brave came out June 2012, but thanks to grad school, I didn’t really make it a priority to see. A lot of my friends did, though, and they all seemed to love it. I thought I would like it, too — strong female character, the previews didn’t say much about a love interest, she was a little rounder than your average princess, with messier hair and a penchant for running wild.
I have one friend, though, who had a problem with Brave, the plot, and how the writers chose to handle Merida’s story. She didn’t give me specifics, which was great because it allowed me to look at it with an open mind. Unfortunately, once I saw the movie, I had to agree with her. Brave was not the fun feminist kids’ film I thought it was going to be.
Before we get into the bullshit, let’s talk about the good. For one thing, I loved how Fergus encouraged Merida’s interest in archery, even when she was a young adult princess (“Princess or not, learning to fight is essential!”), much to Elinor’s chagrin. Also, I loved how wild her hair was, and how she looked like a kid, rather than a 25 year old. I mean, Pocahontas was supposed to be 10-13, and she was not only involved in a relationship with a much older man, she looked like an adult. Another good thing was that most of the women were portrayed as quite stocky and round — with the exception of the royalty, of course. I have a problem with that, since it forces on us the whole idea that desirable people are thin.
I think the best thing about the film was when Merida competed for her “own hand” in archery and beat the pants off her suitors; that was a clever little trick. I suppose I liked that in the end (SPOILERS) Merida doesn’t have to get married, but the way that conclusion came about was filled with so much patriarchal bullshit that I can’t even be happy about it. Oh, and it was cool that Merida and Elinor-As-Bear ended demon bear Mor’du, instead of the menfolk. Continue reading