However the story is a marked departure from their traditional Princess based narratives. You can easily see that the created have made a conscious decision to portray the main hero as more independent, free thinking and less romantically inclined.
The story centres around Merida, especially her relationship with her mother and of course there's a bit of Disney magic thrown in the pot as well. After Merida is forced to have her husband chosen for her in a series of competitions for her hand she takes her fate into her own hands. Beating her suitors in the archery competition sees Merida's and her mother, the queen, fall out. Merida in a fit of anger then flees in the forest on her trusty horse Angus where she stumbles upon a magical witch.
The witch promises she can change Merida's fate, giving her a magic potion in return for her valuable necklace. On returning home Merida then gives her mother the potion within a cake. In a few minutes this then causes the queen to turn into a bear. Problematic as the King has a long standing vendetta against the animal who he lost a leg to when Merida was very young.
Merida manages to smuggle her mother out of the castle and to safety in the forest where the pair begin to bond whilst Merida educates her mother on how to survive as a bear.
Merida then realizes that her mother who is increasingly forgetting her human past can be returned to herself if she repairs the family tapestry she earlier ripped in a rage against her mother, Elinor.
Her father when discovering the bear, unaware it is Elinor, then tries to kill her. Elinor and Merida are then forced to flee the castle while Merida repairs the tapestry en route. In the final confrontation Elinor manages to save her daughter's life from the evil bear Mor'dor, it seems like all hope of the queen turning back to a human is lost; until she is covered with the newly repaired tapestry at dawn when both Elinor and her three sons transform back into humans.
The Kingdom is reformed, the family is reunited and everyone lives happily ever after.
What struck me most about the story was that unlike previous traditional Disney Princesses, even the most recent Tatiana, is that the story does not involve any love interest at all for our heroine Merida. She is defined as an individual who from the outset it is made clear is only interested in her independence and mostly enjoys her own company.
She is physically strong, fit, active, tough and self reliant; climbing Croon's Tooth unaccompanied to drink from the legendary waterfall.
Directed by a woman the film definitely shows a new far more modern and politically correct heroine, marking an end of the days where our female protagonists give up everything for their prince charmings.
Merida is certainly a heroine first and a Disney Princess second.
Whilst we didn't get the traditional love story we did get lovable, relatable characters and traditional archetypes in the King and the magical witch.
One point of criticism I would say about the film was that for the younger audience, who it is actually aimed at, not Pixar fans like me, the plot could have certainly got confusing. Even my synopsis above missed out some key plot points and the full plot outline on Wikipedia goes on for about five paragraphs. This is certainly not a simple, conflict and resolution storyline.
One thing I loved about the film was its Scottish setting. The scenery was beautiful providing a magical setting to the film I didn't think we would ever see from Pixar.
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