Friday, April 11, 2014

The Princess Project - "Brave" Commentary Part Two

So when we left off, I had learned some surprising things from rewatching "Brave" and analyzing it as I go along.

Short version, I came into "Brave" expecting to defend Merida as a great character and the movie as not deserving the critical rubbing it gets .

And halfway through, it turns out I don't quite like the movie as much as I thought I did, and that Merida might be the main antagonist?!?

Yes, turns out the real main character of the story might be Queen Elinor! I'm as surprised by that conclusion as you probably are.

It also turns out that a LOT of my staunch cheerleading of the film is really due to it being the Only PIXAR Movie About Women.

"Brave" is flawed as f***. At times, It feels as if two (at least) incompatible movies were rammed together.

The thing is, we have no way of knowing if Chapman's original vision of the movie wouldve been better/more coherent/more interesting.

It's really obvious as I dissect it that "Brave" was (for want of a better term) executive meddled to w/in an inch of it's life

But this is about analyzing "Brave" as-is. So let's get right back into it shall we?

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Crappy screenshot but Merida's reaction to Elinor acting like a bear is abject horror.

As damn well it should be - that is her MOTHER!

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And yet... mother and daughter are actually having more fun together then they have since Merida was a child!

I have no hope of finding it again but I once read a book that had a really cool analysis of Beauty and the Beast-type stories

...and the author argued that being an animal for a while made the transformed human a better person in the long run.

We can see that here with Elinor; she's finally starting to understand why Merida loves this.

Oh, heck with it! Elinor is the real main character here, just like Merriweather was in "Sleeping Beauty". There's almost no question now.

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After all, this is all Merida's fault, and Elinor has the most to lose here: herself!

By the way, while we were distracted by that bloody stupid castle escape, notice how vehemently Merida denied her fault throughout it. Huh.

Yes, that's just how teens are. I'll be the first to admit it doesn't make her likeable. But as I said WAAAY back in the beginning of this project, I rate good definitive characterization over how well I'd be able to stand the person in real life.

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Shades of "Beauty And The Beast": Mordu has defaced the portrait of his former self.

But whereas Beast tore apart his Prince Simon LeBlah portrait out of rage and sorrow...

...I'm willing to bet that Mordu wrecked his because he is just f-ing DONE with his human past.

I appreciate, by the way, how Mordu is left kind of mysterious and unexplained beyond this. Any more and he wouldn't be scary.

And I mean scary as an actual entity and as a concept. He personifies selfishness and dumb teenage impulses.

So Mordu is... Darkest Timeline Merida... O_o

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Hey, remember when this scene turned up in the trailer and there was speculation over the plot being...

...something about the daughter of a bear-hunting King having to rescue a mother bear and her cubs...

...after they'd been confused with another, much more vicious bear? Good times, good times.

Okay hang on to your hats, we've got to sneak back into the castle. Glee.

One of the things "Brave" does right is acknowledging an awesome (but not very marketable) aspect of being a Princess: Political Powers!

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That's really when Merida becomes a real hero: her mom's unavailable so she must step up and be responsible.

Suddenly, this is my favorite scene in all of "Brave". Merida's been awesome in an arguably conventional Strong Female Character sense...

...but now we finally see her acting like an adult and taking charge by negotiating! Her WORDS bring the kingdom back together!

And huge character development moment: Merida publicly admits she screwed up!

"I'm sorry for being a dumb teenager and not being a completely flawless role-model to all the girl PIXAR fans of the world." XD

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And best of all, she's made Elinor proud. My heart...

Here's where things get interesting from an analysis standpoint. If you've been seeing "Brave" from Merida's POV, the pantomime scene is odd.

But from Elinor's POV, it's a huge deal, since it means she really has changed her mind and is willing to break tradition.

I also love the bit with the princes. Turns out they weren't keen on this betrothal thing either.

Oh, by the way, King Fergus has no idea what the hell has been going on all this time...

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This scene is, honestly, dark as f***. Think of what conclusions he must be drawing! It's a shock that "Brave" even goes near this place!

I'm starting to wonder if the original version of "Brave" was much darker (though certainly not consistently THIS dark) and more serious?

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And I for one would love to see that alternate universe more serious version of "Brave" because guess who's back?!?

So help me, Bear!Triplets look like something created by the (ahem) Marketing Genius behind Teletubbies and Oogieloves.

Uuuuugh, these three f***ers are going to be involved in another wackity smackity doo chase scene aren't they?

I swear this whole plot twist was invented by a marketing executive so they could sell adorable teddy bears. Ugh.

I will spare you the screenshots because good lordy... Anyway, of COURSE they get into a wacky chase! Which interrupts the most dramatic moments in the film.

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We now return you to your regularly scheduled Dark And Serious Dramatic Climax.

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"How am I doin', Pocahontas?"

(Okay, I may not like "Brave" as much as I did before, but it is at least a damn sight better and more fun to discuss than "Pocahontas".)

More dumb comedy w/Bear!Triplets and suddenly AWESOME BEAR FIGHT!!!

And seeing as Mordu personifies selfishness and bad decisions, it's awesome that Elinor and Merida must defeat him together.

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Then Mordu is redeemed and turned into... a Force Ghost? And then a Wisp? Uh, Celtic Folktale Logic, yeah!

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Oh man. This whole scene...

Dammit, Bear!Triplets stop interrupting the climax of "Brave" this isn't even about you!!!

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Where were we? Oh yeah, this whole scene...

You know what, I STILL like "Brave" a lot for the moments it gets absolutely right. But man, it's hard to ignore the rest...

Speaking of, our "Too Many Butts in 'Brave'" Count is at three. Yeah, I figured.

Maybe critics who complained about vast galloping herds of bare buttocks in "Brave" FELT like there were more butt jokes then there are because the mood whiplash is so severe?

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Imagine if along with individually-sold Bear!Triplets, they sold this embroidery kit?

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Now, animated films usually have lots of writers, but I feel there was a Too Many Cooks thing going on here.

I say that because according to these credits, EVERYONE in the PIXAR Brain Trust had a go at "Brave". No wonder it's muddled!

So anyway, there's "Brave" for you. Hope you all enjoyed this Disney Princess commentary!

Sadly, Princess Commentary has to stop here until Netflix's evidently one copy of "Aladdin" arrives. Ah well.

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Then again, the above movie isn't available at all anywhere I've looked, so thank goodness for small favors...


raptor_044 said...

Out of curiosity, are you gonna do "Frozen" now that it's on DVD?


Brian Malbon said...

I'd really love to see your snarky take on Sophia the First. She's not QUITE as awful as I first imagined the few times I've been in the same room when it was on, but every single one of these kids is a spoiled rotten shit. It send like the"learning to be a princess" arc is mostly learning how to be a bitch. It doesn't help much that nearly every time I've seen the show, it's the episode where all three brats treat their (gay?) male nanny looker garbage and then make it up to him with a five-minute "yay you!" treehouse party.

Anyway, loved the insights on Brave. It's a flawed but gorgeous movie and the analysis you linked to is brilliant. As a father of two daughters, it's hard to find positive girls for them to watch, so this one stats on rotation despite it's problems.

Brian Malbon said...

Wow, rereading all of that tells me I've really got to keep an eye on my typos. Autocorrect is a real killer, I hope the gist got through.

Kevin To said...

Your dinosaur draws are beyond great. I remember watching the Jurassic park movies and these drawing reminded me of them. Good work and keep it going. The details listed on each dinosaur is very helpful as well. Thanks!!!

Rachel Ghoul said...

This is a really awesome and admirable project and I'm sorry that I'm only hearing about it at the tail end of it. Excellent analysis. I'm looking forward to hearing your take on Aladdin (still my favorite, though Tangled and Sleeping Beauty give it a run for its money) and hopefully Frozen.

(For the record I've seen about a third of the episodes of Sofia and it's... not awful. It's not remotely on the level of the first two seasons of MLP, but I don't hate it. If I were in the age range I'm sure I'd be all over it.)