Before the serious stuff, I would like to go on record that I would sell one of my kidneys to have Merida's hair. Please cue digitally rendered hair for us pedestrian, carbon-based gals. Thank you. Returning to Planet Serious.
On Planet Serious, Brave will scare and befuddle children younger than seven. On the way home after the movie, my ten year old son and seven year old daughter and I were talking through what we'd just seen. I mentioned that a lot of movies intended for children function on two levels: a story kids get, and a bunch of jokes and allusions adults get. (My example, heaven forgive me, was the adult-hysteria-inducing/does-not-register-with-kids passage from "Flushed Away" that concludes with the words "I got a bum like the Japanese Flag.") For me, I went on, Brave was very different. "We saw the same movie," I said, and asked them whether that made sense. Their verdict was absolutely.
On all its primal, terrifying, symbolic, difficult and lovely levels Brave gets parents and children alike where they live, and reaffirms that they live in the same place.
Brave is unique among animated children's movies in a number of deceptively simple ways. The heroine is possessed of a family in which both parents are alive. The heroine's mother genuinely loves her daughter, and is loved by her. The film accurately and humanely depicts the passage from childhood dependence to adolescent rebellion. Further, with equal humanity and accuracy, it grapples with some really tough and scary issues: the real world impact of translating impulsive, immoderate anger into specific, potentially irreverisible action; the worth of fighting to maintain bonds that aren't easy or perfect; the undeniable fact that the natural world will devour us wholesale and the only thing that makes sense of that is a light hand on the reigns and, before all else, the ability to say "I was wrong.
Brave is a revisionist fairy tale in many ways. It's utterly honest about the plagued, intransigant messiness of our relationships with people we love. It humanely and unerringly depicts maternal tyranny, passion, and abject fear. And . . . hallelujia and spoiler alert . . . the princess does NOT find prince charming at the end. Instead, every human, entranced, and animal creature in Brave finds their way towards being more compassionately themselves.
Lest this sounds a bit too New Agey, Brave contains naked bum humor as well as gratuitous laughs at caber tossing, ceilli dancing,whittlers, and Prince Charles.
Never let a literature person take her kids to the movies,