If this were a real review, I’d follow the format of lead-in, synopsis interspersed with snazzy commentary, and no spoilers. It’s not. (So if you haven’t seen it yet at this late date, I’d say come back later.) Let’s just say it’s a chick flick that kids will enjoy, shall we?
That said, the story of Brave reminds me of Atalanta and her golden apples. If you remember the Greek myth, the maiden tried to thwart her father’s edict of marriage by challenging her suitors to best her in a race — and she happened to be extremely fleet of foot.
Those suitors who attempted the footrace with Atalanta — and lost — were killed. A severe price to pay (much harsher than mere rejection in “I don’t want you, go away”) but it ought to have been effective in discouraging men. Or so you’d think. She was supposed to have been very pretty.
But then came Hippomenes (in the version I read it was Hippomenes, not Melanion), and he was smart enough to ask Aphrodite for help. The goddess gave him those infernal golden apples of hers, and they were so irresistible that Atalanta was tempted to delay and acquire, every time Hippomenes let one strategically fall.
It’s suggested that Atalanta’s self-confidence in her skills — and her grudging liking for Hippomenes — as much as the allure of the golden apples decided the match. Hippomenes gained time and distance, and Atalanta was too late to keep up at the last round, so she lost and was shackled to him.
So too, in Brave does Meridan (voiced by Kelly Macdonald of Trainspotting breakout fame) attempt to escape a traditional marriage by using her archery skills to beat her bumbling suitors. But there the likeness ends. Meridan is less concerned with escaping marriage per se as being given a choice of whom and when to marry. And in general, how to live her life, and not be dictated to by her mother, Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson, with a very convincing well-bred Scots accent).
There is that conflict between mother/daughter and tomboyish princess/regal queen, about fulfilling expectations as opposed to forging your own destiny — or at the least, bucking tradition — and ultimately what we’ve got is an acceptance that duty/responsibility bears equal weight with personal choice.
Dramatized with the help of magical will-o’-the-wisps, and canny witchery, and magic potions, plus very physical comic relief in admittedly stereotypical ornery clansmen, including the gentle giant of a bear-king, King Fergus (Billy Connolly), and adorably mischievous princeling-brothers (like a triplet of whipsmart stooges addicted to desserts).
The clash in personalities is expected, as are the hints that they’re not quite as irreconcilable as all that. This is a mother-daughter kind of love affair, a wo-mance if you will; there is no Hippomenes equivalent in the Disney-Pixar movie, which is definitely non-traditional. No feats are desired more than demonstrations from mother and daughter.
How many of us girls have been weaned on happily-ever-after stories which end in marriage? Meridan is of the new breed of heroine much more concerned with self-actualization than getting hitched (she’s self-confessed “not ready” to be married). How many princes have been allowed to question why on earth they would go through so much hardship for the girl — for her beauty, her wealth, her royal blood — whereas in this one we’ve got a lordling complaining that it wasn’t his idea, she wasn’t his choice, but his father’s. So that’s new.
So yes, I did enjoy Brave. It was funny, and heartwarming, and despite the comic stereotypes, a pretty spectacular visual and aural (can’t miss those accents!) Scots-flavored pageantry.
Why is it, then, that I can’t help but wish, that I’d seen Atalanta’s story animated too? Must be my upbringing. I like the romance of it, and there’s just something about the threat of death via marathon. Lol.