And now another Totally Irrelevant Movie Review, in which I offer thoughts on a movie that everyone else saw months ago.
We saw Brave for the first time over Christmas. It was well worth seeing. The animation was gorgeous. I loved that they showed a loving family. A mom and dad who love each other and show it, and who love their children. That much was really refreshing.
The rebellious teen, okay… that in and of itself doesn’t really speak to me. I wasn’t a rebellious teen, and I had a great relationship with my parents. Not that I didn’t do things now and then to frustrate them; they were always on me to get my nose out of books and go out with friends more. I never had a curfew, but I never was out to be breaking one. We all struggle with relationships in our own way.
And I’m not sure that I really had an Issue with the movie. The story… fine. The animation, as I said, was beautifully done. But I can’t get away from the nagging feeling that the storytellers are pushing modern sensibilities into an historic culture.
Wouldn’t it have been brave to try to visit it from a different perspective? Really different? (Yes, I know the movie has to please the audience, so the chances of them trying something truly groundbreaking are slim, but I think, just once, I’d like to see a different perspective. And maybe that will have to come in a written story, where people are more able to take unpopular risks.)
Consider this: Merida’s mother Elinor wanted her daughter to be happy, and was guiding her in the way that their culture had created ‘happiness’ for generations — in this case, pacifying the different clans by choosing the monarch’s partner through competition, winner gets wed.
It seemed pretty clear to me that Merida and Elinor were a lot alike in personality. And Elinor, when she was a teen, was put through the same trial of being steered into an arranged marriage for the good of the kingdom, just as she was doing for Merida.
She was perfectly justified to steer her daughter that way, because she had faced that same trial, and made it work.
The idea of arranged marriage is very distasteful, and I wouldn’t have wanted one myself. We hear all the time about girls being forced into partnerships against their will, of marriages filled with terror and abuse. However, there are many cultures in which arranged marriage is the norm. And I’m sure there are many, many arranged marriages out there that do work, because the partners put in the effort to make it work. (Would that people in our society would put in the same effort into our UNarranged marriages.)
Wouldn’t it be interesting to hear Elinor’s story? Of how she faced duty and accepted it, and made it work? That, I think, is another face of bravery that we seldom get to see.