My name is Winston Hearn, and I am interested in life. Life in all its glory, horror, and mundanity. I read a lot in the interest of living an examined life, and this blog is where I post links I want to reference later and thoughts stemming from recent readings.
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I wonder, though, whether any of the foregoing critics who’ve tolerantly yawned at Pixar’s latest effort could name a Disney princess besides Mulan whose mother is alive, let alone named.
It’s almost as if the critics have missed the constitutive element of the Princess Story in its capacity as cultural and commercial myth. As if the omnipresent witch/evil stepmother doesn’t capitalize on precisely that fictional hole—the vacuum left by an absent mother. e.g. Bambi, Star Wars, Star Trek, Hugo, you name it.
And yet, in Brave, there is a live mother, named and all. And then a remarkably boring thing happens: this interloping mother who has no place in this ordinary, predictable princess story suddenly becomes central to it. She gets turned into something that keeps on getting misread as a monster, something her loving and well-meaning husband has dedicated his life to tracking down and killing for the sake of his own story, which is built around victory and revenge.
It’s a bit as if, having heard the word “princess,” the reviewers all stopped listening and missed Brave’s real project, which is to quietly but determinedly recuperate the “princess story” from some of the qualities for which it’s been so universally condemned.
THIS. This essay by Lili Loofbourow* is a poignant and important analysis of why everyone who has dismissed Pixar’s Brave as “Just Another Princess Movie” apparently stopped watching the film with a critical lens after the first 10 minutes.
If you have children, if you care about the state of movies, if you want to have some solid reasons for why Brave is different than every other princess movie, or if you’re interested in thoughtful analysis of culture, please read this essay in its entirety. I cannot recommend it enough.
[*] How awesome is that name? Very awesome.