Tuesday, 26 June 2012


we went to see "brave" on sunday.  i had no idea what the film would be about, having somehow missed all the ads on tv.  i only found out it was an animated movie a few of hours before we went to see it.  but i'm still not too old to enjoy animated films (really enjoyed "the lorax" earlier this year).  this post will have spoilers, so if you haven't seen it yet, you might want to find something else to read about now.

there were a lot of things i really liked about the movie.  a female lead - yay!  with another strong central female character, being the mother of the female lead.  the film is centred around the relationship between these two female characters, which is brilliant.  and the theatre was packed full, so yay again, because it proves once again that films with strong female characters can make money.

i loved the way the film turned the traditional fairytale of princes competing to win the princess completely on its head.  i loved that the princess didn't allow herself to become a trophy or prize that is won.  i love that it didn't have the traditional happy-ever-after ending with some random dude turning up to "complete" our heroine.

i loved the portrayal of the mother-daughter relationship - it felt so natural, so much what many mothers & daughters experience.  that lack of understanding, the pull of the traditional against the modern, the talking past each other.  the mother fearing for her daughter's future in the full knowledge of the cultural context of her daughter's life.  the daughter not understanding her mother's wisdom and experience, yet having her own wisdom and seeing that traditions aren't always for the best.

i loved that the women were able to influence the men around them, and showed strong leadership qualities.  i thought the father-daughter relationship was sweet though not developed strongly.

the animation was great.  the colours and scenery were lovely to watch.

but there were things i didn't like.  the plot was just so cliche.  child forced to marry someone not of her choosing?  ugh.  just saw that in the marigold hotel movie.  and a million bollywood movies and plenty of hollywood movies as well.  it's just so boring as a plot line.

then there was the hen-pecked "yes dear" husband thing that came through a couple of times.  which i hate because it's only generally used to show how terrible domineering wives are, and how unmanly such husbands are.  there's no reason why husbands can't agree with the superior wisdom of their wives on a particular matter, without hanging their heads and muttering a defeated "yes dear".  not cool.

and our female lead - white, skinny, big round baby eyes.  again, way too cliche, too much in line with the standard model of beauty that is constantly in the media.  though i did find the red hair lovely, and i really appreciated that she wasn't constantly sexualised.  but seriously, a young woman who is an accomplished horse-rider (on a huge clydesdale like animal) and archer is likely to have some muscles on her arms, and a build that isn't quite consistent with what was portrayed.

i also found the fact that the father was plainly unattractive to be annoying as well.  it's like the whole beauty-and-the-geek thing: that all men are deserving of a beautiful woman, regardless of their level of attractiveness.  you rarely see the opposite - a less attractive/geeky woman with a super attractive man, with the undercurrent being that she is totally deserving to be with such a man.  in current popular culture, i really haven't seen it.

as for an accurate portrayal of scottish culture, this clearly wasn't one.  there's a very long post about scottish stereotyping here.  as for myself, i found it annoying that all the men were basically presented as violent boofheads.

so on the whole, i'd say not the best film ever.  but still, the positives outweighed the negatives, and the central theme of the film about the mother-daughter relationship was so well done that it's a movie worth seeing.  and i know my perspective is coloured by the fact that there are clearly not enough movies that centre around women - for analysis of oscars nominated films for 2010, this is really good:

which means that when one comes along, it's much easier to ignore the negatives, and it almost becomes an imperative to support the film so that more of them will get made.  but in the case of "brave", in relation to it's female characters, i think it's definitely a strong film, done well, and worth supporting.


Scuba Nurse said...

Your post has confirmed my hopes and assumptions about the film. I'm very much looking forward to having a girls date to it, and raising those discussion points that you have highlighted as reoccuring tropes in the princess business.
As you say, supporting the positives, while not letting the negativs slide.

Proud Scot said...

It's definitely a depiction of Scottish culture written by and for Americans. The Scottish voice actors must have swallowed it and thought about their paychecks.

Off-topic said...

Off-topic, but I was curious what your thoughts on this was:



I suppose I was wondering if the views expressed in the first link might be fairly representative of girls in Aotearoa New Zealand. But I don't expect you would be any wiser to that than I (I hope I'm wrong on this count).