A film worth Brave-ing the cinema… with your mother
|Native Sabahan Erna is (not) Malay but loves Malay literature. Her hobbies: cats/gaming/blogging at ernamerin.com/Tweeting at @ernamh.|
JULY 4 — Note: This is spoiler-free commentary so read on without fear!
Reading the reviews of Pixar’s new film “Brave”, I suspect the people disappointed with the film aren’t the correct demographic for it.
You see, the only people who will really get the film’s core message are the very people the film revolves around: mothers and daughters. Not that sons, fathers and brothers won’t be entertained this time around. There are gags aplenty though there are far too many “Braveheart” references, which will likely go over the heads over anyone who hasn’t watched Mel Gibson’s take on the Scottish legend.
“Brave” tells the story of plucky Scottish princess Merida (Kelly McDonald), who prefers riding and archery to needlepoint and deportment lessons. When she finds she is to be betrothed without getting any say in it, well, she decides she very well will get a word, if not an arrow, into the discussion.
Her “antagonist” in the film is her mother, Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson), whose expectations and constant reminders to behave as behooves a princess really gets on Merida’s nerves. Elinor’s husband and Merida’s father, King Fergus (Billy Connolly), is often caught in the crossfire of the two strong women’s verbal clashes and provides plenty of comic relief along with the triplets — Merida’s adorably mischievous brothers.
The complicated mother-daughter dynamic is something “Brave” handles well with the animators managing to show the different dimensions of Merida and Elinor’s relationship by showing how it changed as Merida grew older.
Parents and their expectations complicate their interactions with their children; in many ways “Brave”‘s depictions differ little from the average household’s mother-daughter conflicts.
I didn’t expect “Brave” to affect me as much as it did. It brought back memories of my mother’s care, her at-times-smothering attention and reminded me that despite our differences over the years, the love was there. Despite being a bit of a daddy’s girl, as a child I would always cry for my mother. Every scrape, every scary noise in the dark, every time I needed comfort as a child, it would always be mummy I wanted.
My mother was no queen, but she expected me to act with decorum, admonishing me when I started “behaving like a boy”. Being more than a little spoiled as a child, she would sarcastically call me “princess” while at the same time always trying to accommodate my whims as far as she was able. My mother never withheld from me what she had the power to give though I suspect she gave me certain privileges for being the eldest daughter.
Yet at times I felt weighed down by the burden of her hopes and dreams. She wanted me to do everything she never managed — get a university education, travel the world, achieve the ultimate career success. She chose my university, went into hysterics when I filled in the forms on my own without her help, and pretty much decided I would have a future whether I wanted it or not.
I owe her my ambition, my grasp of language and love of literature. In her 60s, she is now a published poet, with the kind of awards and acclaim I am unsure I would be able to achieve by the time I’m her age.
I am my father’s daughter but I owe my achievements to my mother. “Brave” reminded me that my mother believed she knew what was best and wanted only the best for me. Because she loved me. So even if she drives me insane at times, I know she loves me. And I will always want my mother.
* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.