For my birthday last summer, my little brother gave me a copy of the movie Brave. It’s one of my favourite princess movies. The list of reasons I’ve been giving for the past few months includes the fact that people are finally recognizing and beautifully animating curly hair and the story not hinging on a prince saving a princess (in fact, the princes are fairly minor characters in this movie).
But now that I’m rewatching it (for about the millionth time, I must admit), I have found a new reason. And I think this reason might be even better than the curly hair thing.
Yeah, the whole premise of the movie is family values. The daughter and the mother learning about each other and how to respect the other’s needs and wants.
So maybe it takes Merida and Elinor the entire movie to realize how much they truly love each other, but it’s an element of the entire production.
Like, when Elinor first turns into a bear and Merida presses against the wall to get away, screaming that there’s a bear, Elinor throws herself down next to Merida and instantly puts and arm over Merida. To get to her daughter, the bear would have to get through the mother first. I’ve heard my mom’s relentless worries all my life. Good luck, bear.
Then, when Elinor finds out she is the bear and that Merida caused it, she’s understandably angry at Merida. They go on a journey through the woods to find the cottage, they get the message from the witch that the spell will be permanent (cue angry eyes from mom to daughter) and then Merida pours all the vials in and the cauldron starts bubbling. Elinor’s first instinct is to bend over Merida. Even though she’s furious (and who can blame her?), her first thought is to protect her daughter.
Then she starts acting like a bear. She lashes out at Merida and only restrains herself at the last second. The look on her little bear face in that moment is just remorse. Like, how could she ever think about hurting her own daughter.
And it goes on. Then Merida becomes the one protecting Elinor. Then they save the day and all is well, happily ever after, etcetera.
But seriously, that’s what makes this such a good movie. Sure, Merida has some fantastic hair (and is a fantastic person to match). And yeah, she’s all for her freedom without a man (unlike the countless princesses who can only gain their freedom with a man). But the mom. The. Mom. She acts like such a mom. And in spite of her anger at her daughter and their fights and their inability to come to a conclusion about what to do with Merida’s suitors, she loves her daughter more than anything (except, maybe, her husband and sons) and does anything- even facing her husband who wants to kill her in her bear form- to protect her family and make things right.