Merida: Some say our destiny is tied to the land, as much a part of us as we are of it. Others say fate is woven together like a cloth, so that one’s destiny intertwines with many others. It’s the one thing we search for, or fight to change. Some never find it. But there are some who are led.
The biggest and most significant problem with Pixar’s 2012 film Brave was that there were essentially two films going on at the same time. There was the lighter, more comedic side that really pushed the mom turning into a bear subplot, and then there was the side whose sole focus was on the touching mother-daughter relationship and Merida’s growth.
What movie do you think deserved all of the attention?
Much has been said about Brenda Chapman’s involvement in the film. Originally her story, this was a passion project for her and you can tell with the amount of heart that goes into the written moments between Merida and her mom. She also would have been Pixar’s very first female director, so to get the shaft was even more of a letdown. Mark Andrews was brought in and Chapman’s story was forever warped.
I would have loved to have seen a film that was 100% entirely her vision because that, coupled with the absolutely stunning visuals, could have been a game changer in the animated film industry.
Instead it was good, flawed and with a story to tell that was buried beneath some unfavorable gimmicks.
Merida herself is amazing. She never is forced into getting a love interest, is strong and independent and isn’t defined by any one thing that she loves. Also, she’s a ginger, and that’s always a plus in my books. Her entire arc throughout the film is all about discovering who she is and what she plans on doing with that information – well, if you can see past the magic spells and wacky hijinks at least. It’s about a young girl fighting to choose her own path in life; not something we often see in family friendly films.
Her relationship with her mother is just as poignant. It’s stressed but it’s warm and you can tell that neither of them want to be mad with the other, they just can’t help it. You believe they used to be close and circumstances have forced them apart and some of the most satisfying moments in the film all happen at the end when they’ve reconciled.
It helps that this film had a great cast of voice talent on its hands and in particular, they had Kelly MacDonald, who infused such feisty, unfiltered energy into Merida that the character popped off the screen. The color of the character is enhanced by some of the best animation I’ve seen. From Merida’s hair to the body of water that surrounds them to the greens of the forest that she loves, the artwork makes everything come alive.
It’s such a shame this film couldn’t be all it had the potential to be. Studios still believe in the archaic notion that females can’t sell films and likely used Brave as an example no matter its success. However, with Frozen being a box office sensation it will be interesting to see the people in charge arguing that still. Brave should have gotten the chance to come out this year when the pop culture climate was going in a better direction – however slight. It more than anything else deserved to have Chapman sturdy at the helm of the project from the very beginning to the very end. Merida is such a vibrant, lovable character who doesn’t listen to anyone other than herself on how she should behave and grow, and that’s a hugely important lesson for young people, especially young girls. Young girls need more heroes, and had the film been executed the way it was originally planned, Merida easily could have become one.