Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Princess Project - "Brave" Commentary Part One

Tweets originally posted starting on 2/12/14. And oh, this was a lively one. It'll have to be split into two posts.

Okay, first off, I still defer to this fantastic review/analysis. And I still mostly agree with it. Mostly.

Okay here we go: "Brave". Starting the most misunderstood Disney Princess since I can't even remember when.

And yes, we'll be considering Merida a Disney Princess, so as not to get overwhelmed by semantics.

Also, PIXAR's part of Disney, and they made a movie -A movie. One. But we'll get to that- that primarily addresses girls. Deal with it.

Alright, here we go. This might get to be an intensive commentary here so hang on to your hats/mullets.

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I'm not really a Font Person but... this font...

Screenshots in this one might be iffy but... Let me put this on the table. It was easier to find pretty stills in the hand-drawn films...

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"Brave" is a Disney Princess movie that is all about a mother's strained relationship with her teenage daughter.

And it's painful how many critics appeared to have a problem w/that. Cause I guess there are TONS of other movies focused on a teenaged Princess and her mother...

Okay, NOW I must Nerd Rage RE: the Stories of My People...

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Lots of critics had a problem with the Will O'Wisps. In this story neck-deep in Celtic folklore.

"WTF? They're just a magical plot device?!"
Um, maybe because they are supposed to be? (Also our 1st Miyazaki shoutout.)

Anyway, in the folklore, which is contradictory about so many supernatural beings, which is why I think it is awesome...

...there's little agreement about Wisps beyond "mysterious glowing things/creatures; weird stuff happens if you follow them."

Here they "lead you to your fate" - and note that young Merida is led back to her mother. Hmm...

(By the way, I swear I remember a particularly boneheaded review that stated Brave was set in Ireland. Yeah.)

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Our first encounter with our "false antagonist".

The whole Mordu subplot is strange and interesting but well get more into it later...

Five minutes in Merida says, "I'm the Princess." And I swear this is the moment where most critics stopped paying attention.

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O_O

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Flaws or no flaws, this is a GORGEOUS movie.

The whole dinner table scene, with some modification, could be my family as seen by Teenaged Me.

And here lies a major tangent. I feel like a great deal of "Brave"'s appeal -or not- lies in one's relationship with their mom...

...and also how comfortable/embarrassed one is with how they acted (esp towards their family) as a teenager.

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This is a fantastic moment I haven't seen many people comment on: Elinor's tapestry is her IDEALIZED family.

This is the teenaged daughter she secretly longs for. It explains so much!

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And here's how well this works out in reality.

Look for the moment when Elinor realizes how miserable Merida is here. She would've had to gone through this too, long ago.

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"Dammit, mom. Let me have my own identity at least!"

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Here we go. The Lords, their sons, and their clans.

I've been quietly avoiding this issue so far but now I have to drop it right on the table so we can deal with it...

...and it is that I've definitely noticed that feelings re: "Brave" tend to be pretty well split down gender lines.

And I have seen a lot of male critics pile on this movie because, "ALL the men are big burly violent Dudebro buffoons!"

I honestly cannot come up with a not-sarcastic response to this. So here comes the sarcastic one! :D

"Golly, it really sucks when the only people the same gender as you in a movie are lame stereotypes you can't relate to, doesn't it?"

I'd also like to point out that there's more than one male character here. That's more than I can usually hope for.

I'll pause here to talk a little more about gender issues in "Brave" later, cause we've got a LONG ride ahead of us.

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Anyway, Elinor is just f-ing done with this isht. :D

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Never mind all that highfalutin' academic talk about gender issues for now -- LOOK AT THESE SHEEP!!!

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By far the strangest criticism I often see for "Brave" is, "There's too many butt jokes!"

Of which the above is the first of, I think, three? Total? I don't really want to keep track...

...but this whole project has been about setting the record straight on these movies so, I guess keep track of butts I must.

Let the record show that I am looking forward to this as much as you are.

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Merida finds her loophole...

Now in the less-interesting version of this movie (and, I think, the teaser), this'd be a huge triumphant You Go Girl moment.

Instead, Merida's actions here screw everything up for everyone including her! This is a bold choice story and character wise.

But as we have discussed before, who can honestly relate to a flawless protagonist? One who's decisions are always right?

Hell, you could even read this as Elinor's story of growth and change (heh) with Merida as the main antagonist! O_O

For now, I'm taking this as Merida = protagonist. It's something I'll keep in mind though...

...especially where some upcoming scenes are concerned. Still, two female protagonists a viewer could side with!

I'd say "good on PIXAR" but (here's another giant magic bear in the room) as awesome as they are...

...they've asked me to relate to male toys, a male ant, male monsters, male humans, a male robot...

...a male rat, male CARS, before finally giving me a female human -female at ALL- main character. Yup.

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Preemptive response to "But but those movies all had girl characters in them!!!???!!!"

I'll note that PIXAR female supporting characters tend to be awesome. They just... haven't been the MAIN characters until now.

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Preemptive response to "Your PIXAR movie chronology is wrong!"

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OK, moving on! Usually, this kind of awesomeness ends with everyone cheering our hero and good times for all.

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But instead, "Brave" goes here.

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Exhibit A in that argument that Merida's the real antagonist here. Or, possibly, that she is a teenage girl.

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In either case, notice how Elanore has her, "Oh sh*t, what have I done" way earlier than Merida does.

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Remember how the teaser implied the Standing Stones would be a bigger part of the plot?

Instead of the Random Mysterious Supernatural Thing they actually are, I mean. Not unlike the Wisps.

Also notice how Angus is freaking out and refuses to enter the circle. Shades of Miyazaki again!

This is as good a place to note I love everything about the Wisps' design/sound effects. Adorable and otherworldly.

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Speaking of Miyazaki, the witch is totally Zeniba. No question.

The witch's obsession with bears led to a great fan-theory: bear-related spells are all she knows and when all you have is a hammer...

It's one of the vanishingly few fan-theories I've ever encountered that hasn't made me want to hurt people.

(Well, there's also the theory where she's Time Lord Boo but... No.)

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Raven = Best.

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I'd like to visit the alternate universe Disney store where they market things like this. Also: foreshadowing!

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Okay here we go: the "Change my fate" spell.

I have heard critics pile on Merida for feeding her mother a mysterious thing that could potentially harm her.

Note Merida's exact words are: "I want a spell that'll change my mom!" She's acting out of selfishness! Merida DGAF!

News Flash: Teenagers are sometimes stupid and selfish or they may do impulsive harmful things. Cause see, they're not adults.

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Oh, Elinor, you could've saved us an awful lot of pain if you'd just eaten the whole thing...

Note how insistently Merida is asking questions about the wedding, even as Elanore's in obvious digestive agony!

Right here we go: Elinor's transformation.

Even considering Folktale Logic (which this movie runs on), it is... an admittedly odd plot twist. But taking it as-is...

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The argument has come up that Bear!Elinor is a comic relief animal character. Er...?

The whole point of Elinor's transformation is how horrific it is for her. Compare her to Beast, Kenai, or Tiana...

...and aside from Beast, you'll notice they never have to truly deal with "Oops I'm not human anymore!" the way Elinor does.

It's probably because instead of being surrounded by friendly animals on her quest, Elinor must deal w/a human. Her daughter.

She's had difficulty speaking w/Merida before, now she can't even speak. Transformed Disney characters don't usually have that problem.

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The Escape From The Castle scene is admittedly hard to get through, but it's mostly thanks to these three effers.

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LaFou and Mr. Bean both unavailable for comment.

It appears to me that Elinor's transformation and subsequent escape from the castle...

...seems to be where critics who didn't already zone out at "I am a Princess" zone out for good.

And admittedly *I* zone out here as well, (though I focus back in afterward). It'd be a damn sight less tedious w/out triplets

They feel like a discordant element thought up by a marketing committee and thrown in the story at the last minute.

It wouldn't surprise me one wit if the triplets or the more comedic aspects of Elinor's transformation weren't in the original script.

(I don't remember if that was the case but I also don't remember seeing them in the earliest concept art.)

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Anyway, they're about to get even more marketable...

And I will spare you a screenshot but our "OMG TOO MANY BUTTZ" count is at a grand total of two, about halfway through. Yeah.

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Oh goodness, this flashback. Right in the feels...

There was a very good movie in here, I'm sure. Just sucks that it was taken away from its creator and you can REALLY tell.

Thing is, I'm not even sure if *I* like "Brave" as much as I thought I did when I started this analysis, however...

...I do still, as I have with all these movies, wish to dispel some of the "Did we even watch the same film?"-type criticisms.

And on that note, part two will be up Friday!

1 comment:

raptor_044 said...

"LaFou and Mr. Bean both unavailable for comment."

To be fair, the poultry example is possible AFAIK ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ltx3PBnWcI ).

-JD-man