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Five Bears and a Regal Girl: The ursine characters in “Brave” are just as important as the human counterparts. PDF Print E-mail
Written by Stephanie Finnegan   
Tuesday, 04 December 2012 16:31
Handy with a bow and arrow, and able to wield a sword, Merida is not a typical fairy-tale princess. The “Brave” protagonist puts the “hero” in heroine.
The plot of “Brave” centers on the travails and travel of a bear. It’s not surprising that the original title was “The Bow and the Bear.”
Little girls will re-create the scenes from the epic adventure with the Elinor plush bear.
Endearing and embraceable, the ursine plush creations from “Brave” are well made and beautifully constructed.
A trio of bears is playful and delightful. They have their huge Disney fans.
Biographies of the characters—the toy versions and the illustrations—are provided on the website.
Handy with a bow and arrow, and able to wield a sword, Merida is not a typical fairy-tale princess. The “Brave” protagonist puts the “hero” in heroine.
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For almost a month now—since “Brave” was released on Blu-Ray at the Disney Store—my kids have been running around the house talking in outrageous Scottish brogues. They sound like they’re refugees from a broken-down touring copy of “Brigadoon.” I can’t help but chuckle every time I hear them say “canna” for “can’t.” As a matter of fact, watching a pint-size second grader mimic a Sean Connery impersonator is pretty awesome: “Aye canna cum to the table now, maerther, cause I’m a wee busy with the bairns.” (Translation: “Mom, I’m busy playing with the other kids.”)

Both my son and daughter were taken with the Pixar film, and that wasn’t a huge revelation. My daughter has been enchanted by “Aladdin,” which features a boy and his monkey sidekick, and by “Wall-E,” which is all about robots finding love. So, it’s only makes sense that my son could be drawn into a story that features a female protagonist. In “Brave,” the heroine Merida isn’t the typical fairy-tale princess. She rides a horse aggressively, brandishes a bow and arrow (and excels at archery), and knows how to swing a sword. Despite her royal lineage—and her fate to be a married queen, joined to a chosen clan leader—she has a mind of her own. Her feisty independence, combined with her impatience, is what leads to the movie’s conflicts.

Unlike many animated movies, particularly the ones based on fairy tales and storybooks, this flick features a two-parent household. Merida isn’t orphaned. She has a fierce but loving father, and a fiercely protective mother. The mother-daughter headbutting is unusual in a cartoon, and it’s worth watching for that alone. Rarely do movies try to navigate the dual straits of concern and control that mark a mom-daughter relationship.

Also within the castle are Merida’s triplet brothers. The three little boys—each one is totally identical to the other—provide a lot of the movie’s humor and slapstick. Much of the script centers on Merida learning to grow up and discovering her destiny against a beautiful Scottish Highlands backdrop. In the gorgeous wildlife landscapes, Merida is a flashy, vivid orange-haired flame. She pops off the screen.

She’s also a mischief maker, who learns her lesson in a bold, brave way. One of the major turning points in the film involves a witch, a wish, and a wondrous bear. The bear, in fact, is such a major part of the screenplay that the original name of the movie was “The Bear and the Bow.” (When Merida seeks to change her future, she utilizes her bow, and then becomes the protector of a bear. I won’t say any more than that. Spoiler Alert!)

To commemorate “Brave,” there is a great deal of merchandise, and the figure of a bear is prevalent among the dolls, the plush, the toys, and the wardrobe. As a teddy bear fancier, I was enchanted by the scenes that focused on the interplay between Merida and the bear whom she must hide and worry about. The interludes that show the bear learning to be more bearlike are classic—similar in some ways to the jubilant “Jungle Book.”

As in many children’s films, there is a final showdown between good and evil. And in this opus, the ultimate battle is between two bears, both struggling and fighting to control the Highlands and to truly decide Merida’s fate. Her life hangs in the balance.
It’s a very enjoyable movie for all members of the family—though it will most likely speak the most emotionally and deeply to the moms in the living room. And if you’re a teddy bear aficionado or a fan of real-life ursine creatures, this is a feast for the eyes and the senses. (Check out the way the storyline influenced a very talented crocheter on her website. Her patterns are simply delightful!