An animation in the fairy-tale genre, Brave includes many of the classic elements: a princess who must choose from one of three suitors, a spell-casting witch, a trial of strength, and people who turn into animals.
The setting is medieval Scotland at some indeterminate time, so there is no shortage of exquisite longshots of mountains and forests and craggy castles. There is also plenty of action to keep children engaged and humour to make the accompanying adults smile. Many will instantly recognise the voice of Billy Connolly as the chieftain-king.
The story follows the adventures of feisty princess Merida who suffers from more than a little 21st-century teenage angst as she challenges the path in life which her parents have set for her. She is an angry young woman who thinks that everyone else, and especially her mother, should change to suit her. She has to learn that she has to change too and, as her mother confronts her own inner bear (you have to see the film to understand that), both women are forced to face up to who or what they really are.
But the powerful, controlling mother turns out to be a pretty useful parent when it comes to fighting off destructive foes. The protective power of parental love is a big theme, although liberally laced with the more modern mantra of the importance of parents listening to their children.
I use the term ‘parental love’, but actually it is maternal love which is the powerhouse in this story. What made me uncomfortable was that all the male characters are weak and ineffective: they are vain, or drunk, or aggressive, or stupid, or all those things together. The strong characters are female and there is a clear message that girls should be free to follow their own dreams, unfettered by the expectations or traditions of others. I would have little quarrel with that were there any boys in the story who were not completely useless. Marriage is presented as simply a bad choice for girls.
Isn’t it time we moved on from such feminist rot? Oh for a hero! Come back Prince Charming, all is forgiven.
This article was first published in the October 2012 issue of Evangelicals Now. For more news, artciles or reviews, subscribe to EN or contact us for more information.
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