Last night I indulged in one of my favourite activities: film night. I even had a bowl of popcorn on hand, thanks to my new handy popcorn maker*! There’s something about drawing the curtains, sprawling across the sofa and stuffing handfuls of popcorn into your mouth, with the light of a 42-inch television casting the room in an eerie glow, which really adds to the experience.
My film of choice: Brave**. But first, popcorn prep! This turned out to be quite extensive as popping corn isn’t exactly easy to come by in the darkest depths of Cornwall. I had to send my dear ol’ mum to a fruit and veg shop and drop a packet into my boyfriend’s place of work! How do we live in a world where you can’t get this from a supermarket?! Anyway, I digress. Turns out making the popcorn was easy peasy – just fill the measuring cup provided, pour into the base of the bowl, pop the lid on, place in the microwave and voila! Three minutes later, semi-instant popcorn! And that sound! Reminds me of movie nights as a kid. If, like me, you like your popcorn sweet, use the cooking time to melt some butter and sugar ready to pour over the top and mix in. Yum! I recommend shaking it up halfway through, as a few of the pieces on the bottom got a bit burnt. But then there was more than enough for just little old me.
I was pretty much raised on Disney films but despite having stayed reasonably up to date on the new releases, Brave had managed to pass me by, until last night. I’d heard a lot about it and was intrigued to see a children’s film with a strong, female lead.
First off, the visuals were pretty stunning. Even my boyfriend walked through the room and asked if it was a bluray or if it just upscaled well. I was given a standard definition copy to review, so either our bluray kicks ass at upscaling or it really is that beautiful. I’m really impressed with how far animation has come. I remember seeing Monsters Inc in the cinema and noticing how unusual it was that Sully’s fur moved so well. Brave clearly took a lot of people a long time to work on. Merida’s hair alone looks like a massive job, with its different tones and movement. And the landscapes looked almost photographic at times. Well done, Pixar!
As for the story, I was a tad disappointed that we still live in a world where films made for children, particularly girls, centre on a young woman who comes of age and is expected to marry against her will. The feminist in me was almost tempted to switch off but I persevered and was pleasantly surprised. Merida is a great heroine: strong, feisty, stubborn, determined… She can definitely hold her own! And it’s up to her to save the day rather than playing the typical damsel in distress. In fact, it’s refreshing to see that there isn’t really a male lead and no love interest or wedding in the final act.
Disney, and Pixar in particular, are famed for producing films which cater to both children and adults alike – the Toy Story franchise is a perfect example of this. With Brave, I couldn’t help but feel that, narratively, there wasn’t much here for the adults. When Merida is told that she has to marry one of the three suitors, she runs away and asks a witch to cast a spell to change her mother. Rather than changing her plans to marry off her daughter, she turns into a bear and Merida has just 48 hours to ‘mend the bond’ or she’ll be stuck that way forever. However, bear aside, it’s a sweet story about the relationship between a parent and a child. We can all remember, as a child, thinking that our parents don’t know or understand us and then growing up to realise that maybe they did just want what was best for us – that maybe they just went about it the wrong way. I might have teared up a teeny bit at the end. I’m soft as shit these days!