When it comes to films about princesses and their happily-ever-after lives, Walt Disney Pictures is just the authority. In this 2012 animated fantasy film, Disney once again offered a story about the strength of a young princess and her will to shape her own destiny.
Brave is a co-production between Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney. Unlike other similar movies by Disney, Brave is set in the Scottish Highlands and the leading lady is nothing like a princess clod in a ball gown or adorned with shimmering jewels. Instead, we see a small young lady, tough and strong, and with her flaming red hair, she does what she does best – shooting arrows.
The movie opens with the birthday of Merida, princess of the Dunbroch clan. As a gift, her father, King Fergus, presents her a longbow which she instantly takes delight on and inspires her to become the best archer in the kingdom.
Flash forward to some years later. Merida is then a free-spirited and headstrong young maiden with younger identical triplet brothers. She is informed that she is to be betrothed to one of her father’s allied clans to which Merida answers a strong resistance. The Queen Elinor then reminds her of a legend about a young prince who ruined his own kingdom by refusing to follow his father’s wishes.
Soon, the three candidates for Merida’s possible husband arrive to compete in the Highland Games and win the princess’ hand in marriage. After getting into an argument with her mother, Merida runs into the forest. When following some will-o-‘-the-wisps, she finds herself inside the house of a wood carver, who is actually a witch. Merida bargains with the witch, who agrees to give Merida an enchanted cake to change her mother's mind.
Merida then returns to the castle and gives her mother the enchanted cake. However, the spell goes wrong and instead of changing Queen Elinor’s mind, the charm transforms Elinor into a bear. Panicked, Merida and Elinor travels back to the witch’s cottage only to find a riddle of which the answer will reverse the spell. With only two days left, they begin to work together, understanding more about each other and even growing closer than ever. Yet, there is one problem. King Fergus does not know anything about the incident and after learning about the presence of the black bear in his kingdom, he vows to kill the bear (earlier in the film, the King’s leg had been bitten by a demon bear).
With time running out, how can Merida break the spell and turn her mother back into the queen again? With threats from the King, how will Merida protect Elinor? And with the battle ensuing in the kingdom, how will Merida face her fate and draw her own destiny?
Brave is an engaging, great-looking and heart-warming movie. With its excellent animation and fresh Scottish backdrop, it’s a joy to watch. Adding to that is the humor and wit of the characters. More than the visual beauty of the film, Brave teaches us a thing or two about family relationships and on how to improve communications between parents and children. Transforming your mother into a bear is kind of outlandish, but still, the message came across. With Merida breaking stereotypes, she could be the only Disney princess who lived happily ever after by herself.
Brave is both critically and financially successful. It won several awards in 2012, including Best Animated Film at BAFTA Awards, Academy Awards, and Golden Globe Awards. As of March 2014, it received 69% rating at Metacritic, 78% at Rotten Tomatoes, and 7.2/10 at IMDb.
Rating. Four stars out of five for Brave. Though the movie is beautifully made, it borders on being a typical Disney princess story. It’s nothing like Wall-E or UP which bring in something new to the table. Still, Brave is a fun movie to watch.