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Princess Merida’s expected always to be lady-like
By her mum Queen Elinor, who nags her constantly.
Weapons are forbidden on the dinner table too;
Merida must act the way that princesses should be.
Marriage is the straw that breaks the loaded camel’s back;
Merida can’t stand the fact that it must be arranged.
Archery decides the ugly clan chief’s son she’ll wed
Till she then outshoots him, hoping fate will now be changed.
Words are frightful weapons when they’re aimed at those you love;
Elinor and Merida prove this to be a fact.
Merida runs off into the forest in her grief,
Finding wisps that lead her to the way she will react.
Locating a cottage and a wood-engraving witch,
Merida finagles quite a vague and shady spell.
When she gives her mother this enchanted little cake,
Fate indeed is altered, for her mother isn’t well.
Elinor is changed into a giant, clumsy bear,
Merida insisting that it’s not at all her fault.
Siblings help them both to flee the castle right away,
Dodging their bear-hating father’s guaranteed assault.
Merida attempts to find the witch, but she is gone,
Nothing to assist her but a strange and cryptic rhyme.
Though her mother’s getting used to being more relaxed,
Merida is worried she won’t find a cure in time.
Learning that the spell brought down a kingdom long ago,
Altering a prince into the demon bear Mor’du,
Merida attempts to mend a tapestry she tore,
Thinking this will heal her mum, but quandaries ensue.
War among the clans is stopped when Merida decides
Everyone should get to choose their own selected spouse.
Happiness is short-lived, for her father finds her mum;
Fergus thinks she killed his wife and drives her from the house.
Elinor is hunted by her husband and his men.
Merida, however, will not let them follow through.
Suddenly they are assaulted by the demon bear,
Elinor defending them and vanquishing Mor’du.
As the sunrise dawns to make the spell a lasting change,
Merida can merely now apologize and wait.
Love succeeds in bringing back the Elinor she knows,
Changing both of them and truly bettering their fate.

The second Pixar film on my list, Brave is a Scottish-set fairy tale that feels different from all previous Pixar projects. It’s a fine film to be sure with beautifully animated scenery that is alternately lush or barren, often extremely realistic, as well as lovely Celtic music and an exciting climax. Nonetheless, when people list off Pixar films (Toy Story, The Incredibles, WALL-E), Brave will almost certainly be one of the last to come to mind.

It’s an excellent movie, but it’s a strange mix of inspiration and unoriginality. The young hero/heroine straining to be themselves under the oppression of an overbearing authority figure has been overused in plenty of films, from The Sword in the Stone to The Little Mermaid to Ratatouille. The fateful bulls-eye that splits a previous arrow is borrowed directly from the Robin Hood stories. Plus, the plot twist of a bear transformation was already used in Disney’s earlier Brother Bear, as was the recycled line “I don’t speak bear.” Considering Brave was an original fairy tale, I wonder why Pixar didn’t think of something other than a rehashed bear. Brave was originally to be titled The Bear and the Bow (a better title, in my opinion), but it might as well be Mother Bear.

On the other hand, it’s refreshing to see a strained parent-child relationship that doesn’t call on the parent alone to change. Everything is set right only when Merida owns up to her mistake and accepts that all of this is her own fault. The part with the woodcarver witch has the funniest scenes, and the buildup to the transformation is nicely handled. While the Scottish accents were previously applied to the Vikings in How to Train Your Dragon, here the Scottish brogue is more than just a way of talking but a way of life, along with colloquialisms like “dinnae” and “gammy,” as well as realistic highland games.Also, not many films have a touching mother/daughter relationship with both parties being at fault and sympathetic at the same time.

Brave may not be Pixar’s best, but it is a gorgeously rendered addition to their string of hits. Ignore the uninventive elements, and you’ve got another Pixar classic.

Best line: (King Fergus, to Elinor) “Pretend I’m Merida; speak to me…. [in a girly voice] I don’t want to get married, I want to stay single and let my hair flow in the wind as I ride through the glen firing arrows into the sunset.”

Artistry: 6
Characters/Actors: 6
Entertainment: 6
Visual Effects: 10
Originality: 3
Watchability: 6
TOTAL: 37 out of 60

Next: #250 – Citizen Kane

© 2014 S. G. Liput

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