When we saw the trailers for the film Brave, I knew we had to go. We love Pixar films. They are so beautiful, so moving and have such brilliant stories, especially the Toy Story films and Up. Up! One of the best films ever, just thinking about it can bring tears to my eyes…
The Disney leading ladies have been getting stronger and feistier in recent years – I’m thinking of Rapunzel in Tangled (with her frying pan) and Tiana in The Princess and the Frog, who was only a princess at the last minute and was a poor girl who worked hard and dreamed of starting her restaraunt. But by all accounts, Merida in Brave would beat them hands-down in a feistiness competition – Disney’s strongest female character to date.
How fantastic for my daughter to see such a strong female character, and brilliant for my boys too. And of course it wouldn’t be ‘boring’ for them if it wasn’t overly girly. I also liked the fact that the characters were Scottish, played by Scottish actors rather than the usual boring American voices we have to listen to at the cinema. A win-win for all of us. I couldn’t wait to take the kids to see it.
I’d noticed the ‘minor’ detail that Brave was a PG which basically means should be fine for an 8 year old, but could be a bit worrying for a younger child. My daughter is a funny one. She will watch Harry Potter and other fairly gruesome 12 films, but can get upset by U films (that’s a whole separate post coming soon). But she would be fine, wouldn’t she?
But somehow, in all the lovely trailers, of a beautiful red-haired girl riding through the forest on a horse, no mention had been made of the BEARS. Fundamentally, this is a film all about bears. And my daughter was terrified.
If you want to watch it and don’t want to know what’s going to happen… spoiler alert! Stop right there, don’t read on…. If you’ve seen it already or aren’t bothered about knowing what happens, carry on…
The Dad (the King) has only one leg (positive about disability – tick!). The other one he lost to a bear. And he loves to tell everyone about it. It’s quite similar to How to Train Your Dragon in this sense – big, rough, tough men showing off about how brave they are.
Merida is his first-born (there are also hilarious red-haired toddler boy triplets) and she is supposed to marry one of the sons of the other clan leaders. But she doesn’t want to. She wants to ride her horse and shoot arrows and be free. Her mum doesn’t listen, so she decides to change her mum.
The encounter with the witch is very funny – probably funnier for adults than kids – there are so many quirky little details. I just about kept my daughter on the straight and narrow at this point, by telling her she was a ‘good witch’. This probably wasn’t entirely true. The witch helps Merida to change her mum. But she changes her into…
A bear! How do you explain that to a 6 year old? My daughter still struggles slightly with the concept that films and some TV programmes aren’t real. She doesn’t understand that actors are pretending to be someone they’re not and that they’re not actually being hurt. These might be ‘drawings’, but they’re very good drawings. And a girl’s mum has just turned into a bear.
- She was frightened of the bear.
- She was frightened the bear would hurt the girl.
- She was frightened because the bear queen left her crown in the woods.
- She was frightened that the dad King would kill the bear Queen.
- She was frightened when the triplets ate the magic cake that turned the mummy into a bear.
In short, she was very, very frightened. It didn’t help that we were watching in 3D, so all of this was right in our faces. She sat on my lap, arms clasped tightly around my neck, tears pouring down her cheeks and shaking. Strangely, this was exactly what Merida and the mummy bear were doing at this time.
She didn’t ask to leave, so I didn’t give her that option. I wanted to see that everything would be OK – mummy wouldn’t be killed by daddy and mummy would turn back into a mummy and not a bear and nobody would have to marry anyone they didn’t want to marry (but I don’t think she was remotely bothered about that).
And, surprise, surprise, I was right! It did all work out. But my daughter wasn’t happy.
As we left the cinema, she sobbed: ‘I just thought she was brave with horses and stuff’. I must admit, so did I. If I’d known what was going to happen, I wouldn’t have taken her.
Several hours later, she said to me: ‘They forgot the crown in the woods’.
I told her they would DEFINITELY have gone back to get the crown.