This weekend, I went to the cinema for the second time in as many weeks. I took my two daughters, aged 10 and 7, to see Brave in 3D.
Now, I must confess I did this somewhat under duress. I don’t really like the Scottish. Note: I actually do quite like Scottish people, who are generally lovely. But aggregate them into a nation and, Mcglashan-like, they seem to acquire a sense of entitlement and anti-English hatred that would be completely unacceptable if practised in reverse. I really didn’t like the trailer to Brave, which seemed to pander to the Scottishness of the characters. Surely this would be merely a prequel to an hour and a half of English-bashing. Braveheart, just without the heart, if you like.
In fact I only took them at all because it was vital that we did something together as they had been on holiday abroad, without me, for the previous ten days. Even though you’re completely in the dark and can’t talk to each other, there’s something nice about going to the cinema. The sense of anticipation on the way there and the way you roar at the cheesy adverts prior to the film itself are all great bonding rituals.
So, dear reader, I am delighted to admit that I was totally wrong about Brave. The film is a gem, and fully deserves to be join the ranks of classic children’s animated films.
I won’t spoil the film by unnecessarily revealing too much of the plot, but the core of the film is the relationship between a princess and her mother, the queen. Early in the film, they fall out and must spend the rest of the film doing whatever it takes to get back together. Because they realise that their relationship is worth saving. They grow to appreciate that they were so wrapped up in what they wanted that they weren’t listening properly to what the other was saying. And there’s a wonderful happy ending.
What really makes the film special is that the female characters are so strong. In one part of the film, the male characters are brawling. The queen tells her husband to sort it out. He does, but peace lasts only for a few moments before they start fighting again. The rabble only falls silent when the queen walks – speechlessly and imperiously – through the middle of the room. Later, the princess gives a rousing and deeply moving speech that has the entire, male, audience enthralled. This is a brilliant film for girls, as it demonstrates that the traditional female stereotypes in films are simply unnecessary. You can make a good film without having to have violent, dominant male characters and meek, submissive female ones. You just need a director with a bit of bravery.
As of the time of writing, the film is on general release. Go see it – at an independent cinema near you, if you can.