Merida is a young woman who refuses to adhere to the scottish tradition in which she lives. She despises learning how to behave in terms of ladyship and how to behave like a princess. She would rather tumble through the woods with her horse exploring, shooting targets with her bow, and “living in freedom”.

As long as she can do that, the stuffy books and manners are tolerable.

And life is good.

Until one day, her mother tells her it is time for her to become betrothed to a son of a clan, so as to preserve peace in the land.

She also tells Merida she has no choice, and it is time to grow up.

Merida says she isn’t ready and she doesn’t want this life. A horrible fight ensues. Merida flees the castle and happens upon a witch who can cast spells. Merida pays for a spell to change her fate… by changing her mother.

But it is not at all like she expected.

Things I liked

   In the very beginning of the movie, Merida’s father had to fend off a wild animal to save her and her mother’s life. It was good to see men protecting their wives and children in a courageous way.

   Merida’s mother may be harsh, but she truly has the best intentions at heart for her daughter. Even after she is cursed, she still loves her daughter and protects her.

   This story is a coming of age story, and we see an immature girl make selfish decisions that have sweeping effects. We see her grow up and learn life isn’t about her or what she wants. We also see her mother change in the opinion of tradition, learning the heart of her daughter must  be won, not just her daughter’s hand through a sporting event.

   While magic is used, we see it always have terrible and horrid consequences of evil and suffering. This movie shows there is no easy “spell” to solve your problems. And if you use them, the consequences are generally not what you were hoping for. In fact, it makes the problems worse.

Many people are willing to sacrifice their lives to protect others.

No crude or profane language at all.

   I gotta throw this in too, Pixar once again amazes us with top quality animation and characters. Some scottish landscape scenes looked real to me. Production and animation wise, it is one of their best. A real beauty of a film.

Things I didn’t like

   You know that scene I told you about just a minute ago? With the father fighting off the animal to save lives?That’s about all these men do in the movie.


   One thing that irked me quite a bit was the fact every single guy in this movie was either belching, fighting with another, or failing at some form of civilized function. In contrast the two women in the movie commanded dignity, power, and intelligence. Once again, man and his roles are degraded and destroyed to further a feminist agenda. All in the name of “humor”.

   One scene we see a rope of kilts dangling from the top of a tower… Then we see all the men’s backsides walking away from the rope…. We also see three little boys in the nude from the back…. A lord moons some others in taunting. I was disappointed Pixar threw in that kind of Dreamworks type crude humour.

   One time a maid shoves a key into her cleavage to protect it from being stolen. And then we see one of the boys dive into said cleavage to retrieve it.

   Druids and spirits were powerful influences in Scotland before christianity came to that land. This land is clearly pre-christian scotland, and druids, magic, and spirits apparently quite real. Things called willow-wisps appear to guide people “To their fate”. Merida is guided more than once by these blue orbs of light.

   One time she is guided to the witch’s house, where we see the old woman create a spell in a bubbling cauldron. My mind went back to Snow White and the evil queen in this scene. They are very similar in feel and how the spell is cast. There is also a way to remedy it, all thanks to magic.

I was greatly surprised by how dark and frightening this movie could be at times. Many times I myself jumped at a bear attacking someone.

In one especially dark scene we see find ourselves in an old tower. Bones, weapons, and shields lie everywhere. A bear is shown creeping up on the heroine in the shadows, and she barely escapes with her life. Many other times this bear appears, and at the end, an intense battle ensues with the bear and all the other characters in the movie. Some men are tossed in bunches into stone walls, others crushed. We don’t see anyone die, nor is any death implied. You might want to be careful about letting younger ones see this one, as there are many frightening scenes and images.

We see people drinking ales and such.

The triplets steal tons of pies, pastries, and other foods. They are obnoxious and generally not disciplined. They smack each other with haggis, scare lords and ladies, and more.

Closing Thoughts

   It truly is amazing how one act of sin can affect so many people. This movie shows how Merida, guided by selfish desires, sins against her family by cursing, and almost killing, her mother. All is righted in the end, the lessons learned seemed, to me, empty. When all is said and done, nothing was really lost, nothing really changed…

   Except our herione got her way and was able to live free… and her mother agreed with her. It took a curse to change Merida, as she was willing to become betrothed and her mother broke tradition.

   I wonder if the movie would not have been more… memorable had the curse been broken, yet tradition kept. It is easy to accept and move on from a hard lesson when you agree with the results. Seems to me though, Pixar took the easy way out, choosing a happy ending rather than a mature ending.

But that’s just me.

   Let’s also address the “Fate” mentioned in Brave. It is said in the end of the movie “One can choose your fate, you just have to look inside yourself and be brave enough to pursue it.” I am not going to get into the whole argument of how much you are predestined to do something by God.

God is the one we should allow to guide us. When we want the Lord’s will and walk with him, our desires will be His desires. That is a much better “Fate” to me. Something to consider though, when one does say “it is good to choose your own fate”, is this movie. Merida “chooses” her fate to serve herself, and we see the nasty struggle and suffering she had to go through in order to make everything right again.

Seems to me, choosing your own fate isn’t as brave as it appears. And the consequences, not as good as they seem.

    • Kaitlyn E.
    • August 25th, 2012

    Good review, Austin. I was terribly let down by the film, and having been a feminist once myself, was interested to see the two worlds of feminism (there are two main types, you know) clashing together between the mother and the daughter.

    It was also interesting that Merida is the first Disney princess to not end up with a prince, due to the fact that she doesn’t need a man….

    It had some truely funny parts, though, which is why I found the movie very conflicting. We have a lot of negative worldviews being trumpeted, but it’s all intermixed with fun characters.

  1. Wow… sounds even more disappointing than I was expecting… Oh Pixar, What You Could Have Been!

    Good review. Thanks for the summation.

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