Animation about a Scottish princess who will not conform to the conventional conduct expected of her by her mother (Emma Thompson) and a more indulgent father (Billy Connolly). Her mother wants her to marry but the suitors are hopeless. Then the princess gets a magic potion that turns her mother into a bear. She can only change back if the princess can weave magically…
In the Disney tradition of feisty, independent girls who are superior to the men. It carries on the good work of Mulan, The Frog and the Princess, and Rapunzel. However I expected more, and was disapointed because it’s too sanitized for the global market. It’s a tartan fantasy like an animated label on a whiskey bottle. At least we were spared a smoothie Englishman who’s always an obvious villain. It’s a film about Scots people and there are recognizable quirks in the characters. The fairy story itself is familiar yet colourful. The obvious answer to my earlier complaint is that it’s only a fairy story, but can’t even a fantasy get beyond the Mel Gibson clownishness of Braveheart. Recent historians have insisted that while the Highlands were being cleared of people, the fantasy of tartan Scotland was born: there must be kilts and bagpipes. Tartan kitsch appears to be a 19th century invention. This film is Brigadoon as animation.
The Princess herself has fiery red hair (naturally she’s Scottish). Brave, whether intentionally or not, criticizes certain present day cultural practises: she rebels against an arranged marriage and she doesn’t like her hair being hidden by a veil. Brave treads the well worn path of the wayward girl learning love and maturity in the end (like in any Hollywood teen Film), but interestingly there is no boyfriend. It’s all about reconciliation with a mother who is similarly chastened. The message is clear, we must be true to our better instincts. Nice to watch but offers nothing really different.