I took almost 6 year old son to see Brave on Saturday. We’d had a huge storm Friday night that knocked out power, and by noon we were hot and grumpy. So off we went to the movie theater with 2 million other like minded people.
Brave is a Pixar film, and the opening sequences did remind me a lot of How To Train Your Dragon with sweeping landscapes and distance views of a breathtaking castle. Merida is a young woman as untamable as her explosion of red curls. In spite of her mother’s attempts to school her to take her destiny as a princess, securing the kingdom’s political future through an advantageous marriage, Merida only wishes to ride her horse at speed through the forest and shoot archery. Hmmm, sounds like most of the tomboys I know and love, and many little girls will identify as well as grown women who spent their childhoods with skinned knees and muddy sneakers. Merida can’t escape her duty and she finds herself in an Atlanta-style contest with her princely suitors. Here’s where the story takes a refreshing turn. After a terrible fight with her mother, and regretful words and actions on both their parts, Merida escapes into the forest where she asks a witch for a spell to “change” her mother.
As you can guess, the “change” isn’t exactly what Merida had in mind, and she finds she has less than 48 hours to decipher the witches riddle and take appropriate action or she will lose her mother forever. It’s those precious hours that repair the breach between them as they both finally understand each other’s position. Merida learns the importance of putting aside selfish desires for the good of others (as a mother does), and her mother learns how important it is to have precious time to enjoy youth and discover a sense of self. The kids in the movie theater may have seen Merida’s adventure, but I felt the mother’s dominated the film. We want everything for our children, sacrifice so much for them, and can be perplexed, furious, and disappointed when they choose another path. It’s hard to watch your children make choices you would never want, but in the end, the love for them and the instinctual need to protect them steps back and allows them to become their own selves.
I loved how Merida didn’t meet a hot young boy, find herself rescued by a knight in shining armor. What a great film. Finally, one that recognizes a girl can be independent and strong without eventually sliding into a typical romantic plot. I thought Brave might have been too mature for my nearly 6 year old, but he loved the action and laughed at the antics of Merida’s impish triplet brothers. It’s a great family choice for all ages, although the themes deal with relationship and might hold the attention of all children.