Yesterday I took my three children to see the new Pixar movie, 'Brave'.
Of course I loved it.
It could have been based on one of my own books - the flame-haired heroine, the Scottish setting, the theme of shapeshifting and transformation, and the message that one must have courage.
'Brave' tells the story of the Princess Merida, the red-haired rebellious daughter of King Fergus (voiced by Billy Connolly) and Queen Elinor (voiced by Emma Thompson). Given a bow as a little girl by her father, Merida would rather be off practising her archery in the forest and galloping about on her horse than learning how to be a princess.
The true story begins when Merida learns it is time she beame betrothed to the son of one of the chieftains. She is determined to defy convention, but her act of wilfulness sets in chain a string of events that result in the cursing of her family. Merida must find a way to lift the curse before it is too late.
The things I liked best about this movie:
* Of course, the importance of being brave, a song I sing all the time.
* the foregrounding of the relationship betwee Merida and her mother, and how realistic the tension between them was, and also their deep love for each other. Few movies (or books for that matter) show a positive mother-daughter relationship and this was one movie I was really glad to be sharing with my own daughter.
* the way the movie showed the tension between individual freedom and family duty, a tension that many women (and, I am sure, men) must feel. I loved the wild, free, bold spirit of Merida, but I also felt the need for her to learn that we are not islands, but all joined together in a complex web of social relationships, and that tearing apart that web can cause deep and lasting damage
* the gorgeous Scottish landscape
* her unruly red hair
* the importance, in the movie, of storytelling as a way of acquiring wisdom. This is encapsulated in the lines, which I wish I had written myself, 'Legends are lessons. They ring with truth.'
As far as the craft of storytelling goes, 'Brave' shows very clearly my mantra that the true narrative arc is always the transformation of the protagonist - their growth and change over the course of the story.