|Princess Merida in my own backyard?|
My 13-year-old son, PD, asked me if I thought the movie Brave would pass the Bechdel test. I said, “Let’s go and find out.” We grabbed 16-year-old son, RL, as we headed out the door.
It was such a great story, and portrayed the two lead female characters so well, that I’m willing to overlook the flaws. Despite being about a princess, I thought it was quite an original story. The conflict was resolved by the mother and daughter working together – they each save the other’s life. As opposed to cowering behind a monolithic stone while the men saved them. That’s original! So much was different in this film, it’s hard to name each thing.
Also, an important point to be made here: I believe this movie is being marketed to both boys and girls. My teenaged boys had seen the trailer, and found it appealing. That’s why they were willing to go. Since it’s also important that boys see movies with strong female protagonists, the way it is marketed is crucial.
Yes, the father is a bit immature. At times. At other times, I loved the way he stuck up for his daughter in her desire to ride horses and shoot arrows, instead of sitting around looking pretty. He’s the one who gives her the bow. Since we get only one female-led movie every 17 years from Pixar, I suppose we have to accept the flawed depiction of male characters and be grateful. All in all, Merida had a good relationship with both her parents.
On the way home, we all agreed we enjoyed the movie. Then RL pointed out that, despite a female protagonist and some good female characters, and despite passing the Bechdel test, some 90 percent of the cast was actually male. Very typical of animated movies. We debated whether or not it was necessary for all the visiting tribe members to be male. He said it was because they were a war party. I pointed out that it wasn’t a war party, but a betrothal contest.
You should take your children to see this movie, as long as they are old enough, so they all, both boys and girls, get a chance to see some strong female characters who aren’t just sidekicks. It’s quite scary in parts, though, so be aware. Also, the previews were even scarier. Quite a few tiny children in the audience were crying.
Prediction: Between Hunger Games and Brave, a large number of girls will be getting into competitive archery in the coming year.
Here’s the bad news: Apparently Pixar’s next movie is Monsters University, a prequel to Monsters Inc. All the young children in the audience were treated to a preview that strongly suggests the movie is going to be an animated version of Animal House. The message to kids will be, I guess, that college is about drinking and partying – might as well start them on that path young.
P.S., No, it wasn’t Merida in my backyard, but my dear childhood friend, Laura, who happened to come for dinner right after we saw the movie. Yes, Merida reminded me a lot of her!
Reviews of Brave, and more details: