Manohla Dargis has a well-done review of Brave, and appears to give Merida’s hair an A+, while the film itself only gets a B.
The riotous mass of bouncy curls that crowns Merida, the free-to-be-me heroine of the new Pixar movie, “Brave,” is a marvel of computer imagineering. A rich orange-red the color of ripe persimmon, Merida’s hair doesn’t so much frame her pale, creamy face as incessantly threaten to engulf it, the thick tendrils and fuzzy whorls radiating outward like a sunburst. There’s so much beauty, so much untamed animation in this hair that it makes Merida look like a hothead, a rebel, the little princess who wouldn’t and didn’t. Then again, Rapunzel has a supernice head of hair too.
Dargis gets at the heart of the problem with the film when she writes about the nature/culture divide in ways that remind me of the big themes taken up in Snow White and the Huntsman.
The association of Merida with the natural world accounts for some of the movie’s most beautifully animated sequences, and in other, smarter or maybe just braver, hands it might have also inspired new thinking about women, men, nature and culture. Here, however, the nature-culture divide is drawn along traditional gender lines. The slim, tidy Elinor serves as the custodian of a dreary feminine realm, which for Merida means hours indoors, being groomed and learning lessons, while the freakishly large Fergus represents a rambunctious, barely domesticated masculine world of huge appetites, tall tales and unruly laughter. Fergus gives Merida a bow and teaches her to shoot in the great outdoors; Elinor primly (and amusingly) tells her daughter, “A lady does not place her weapon on the table.”
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