The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

‘Brave’ New Princess Hits Bull’s-eye

Disney is famous for its princess stories; for gleaming castles, enchanted forests and handsome princes; and for fantasy, magic and above all, true love.

However, in its newest collaboration with Pixar, Disney tells a princess story that somehow, while still pointedly a Disney creation, manages to be very different. “Brave” tells the tale of the young Scottish archer, Princess Merida (voiced by Kelly Macdonald), whose father (Billy Connolly) and mother (Emma Thompson) decide that it is time for her to be married to the firstborn of one of the three neighboring clans.

Merida, being (of course) not a standard princess, refuses to comply with her parents’ requests and enters the archery competition for her hand herself. Being the amazing archer that she is, she wins. Although her mother is outraged by the blatant disregard of tradition, Merida runs away with just her horse and bow. She encounters a witch in a cottage (this is a Disney movie after all) who gives her a spell to change her mom. However, the spell goes profoundly wrong and Merida and the queen must set off on a quest to fix the spell and their family (and nowhere in this movie does one encounter true love).

While many previous Disney princess movies featured elements of “finding yourself,” this was always conveniently tied in with “following your heart” and “finding true love” as well. Merida is the first princess who “finds herself” through showing those around her that she is just as good (if not better) than them and is fully capable of making her own decisions. In fact, Merida is really the first feminist princess that Disney has provided us. She’s also quite badass, but Mulan takes the prize for first badass princess.

Story continues below advertisement

While Disney has a long history with fairy tale movies, this is Pixar’s first, and while “Brave” does have distinctive Disney-esque aspects (the design of the woods, the magic forest sprites and the witch and her cauldron) it also has a definite darker and more mature feel. While many of Disney’s princess movies were adapted from stories by authors such as the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen, “Brave” is the first of their movies to retain any of the darker aspects of these sort of stories (even though the plot of “Brave” is entirely original). This isn’t to say that it is lacking humor (Merida’s three little brothers lend plenty of that), but it isn’t afraid to capture the “scarier” side of classic fairy tales as well.

The movie also made an effort to accurately incorporate Scottish legends and culture, and even if it was rather over the top at times with things like haggis and kilt jokes, the will-o’-the-wisps and highland games were nice touches.

Overall, the storyline of “Brave” is incredibly satisfying. It concentrates on self-actualization and familial relationships, and leaves viewers with a similar feeling as “Up” did three years ago with a heartwarming end that isn’t overly sappy or “Disney” (spoiler alert: there are no big musical numbers in this princess movie). One main reason for this is that Merida is one of the most realistic princesses created to date. While her character traits do seem to be a little clean-cut at first, she defies the “flaws for flaws sake” characterization of many previous princesses and develops in a believable way.

If none of this makes you want to go see the movie, I would recommend seeing it for the animation alone. While it isn’t particularly innovative or very different from anything Pixar has done before, the animation in the movie is still captivating and wonderful. It has a very different look from most previous princess movies, which fits nicely with the differences in the story. Plus, Merida’s hair is really amazing.

“Brave” is the perfect summer Disney/Pixar movie, and a lovely combination of a “new take” storyline that actually works, good voice acting and wonderful animation.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Talon Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *