I took my daughter to see the movie Brave yesterday. I didn’t get what I expected. I got so much more. On the way home we joked that we kept waiting for the Princess to find her Prince. Disney billed this in the countless commercials we’ve seen for the month leading up to the opening as Merida hopes to escape an arranged marriage. Pixar, however, had other plans. As a romance writer, I will never discount the importance of the Prince, but this movie focused on a much more complex relationship than love at first site, or the hero to the rescue, or even the fight for true love. With the Hollywood landscape so focused on the male hero, something Meryl Streep eloquently discussed at the recent 2012 Women In Film Crystal + Lucy Awards http://www.webpronews.com/meryl-streep-wants-hollywood-to-give-women-a-chance-2012-06, Brave bravely turns a focused attention to the complexities within the mother / daughter relationship.
In Brave, Princess Merida and her mother Elinor struggle with communication. They are unable to listen to and respect the desires and motivations of the other. Merida would like to live free from her mother’s expectations. Quite possibly, she feels the enormity of one day stepping into her mother’s shoes. I found this same idea overwhelming when I was younger. The transformation in their relationship grows organically when the two face the possibility of losing one another forever. The film uses a unique plot device in which two-way verbal communication is inhibited, visually embodying the previous disconnect. This impairment forces the two to listen with their hearts. I don’t want to give away the plot as this is not a review of the film (I’ll just say, go see it, you won’t be disappointed), but what invested me so fully in this story was the resolution. Only when each set aside their pride could the rift between them mend. What a beautiful sentiment…to listen without pride.
Over the past year I have dedicated my efforts in developing a Young Adult Fantasy that will span three novels. Within the story, my main character, Terra, (whom I plan to introduce in future blog posts) struggles in her relationships with her mothers. Yes, she has two…one here on earth in the town where she was raised, and her birth mother whom she discovers following her sixteenth birthday in the world where she was born to live and one day rule. Brave turned my thoughts to Terra and her need to circumnavigate unfamiliar terrain with two very different mothers. As the story arc unfolds, the relationships with her mothers, how she is able to communicate, or not, with each, will play a paramount role in shaping her future. My thoughts also turned to two very important relationships in my life…that with my mother and my daughter. Each relationship requires its own finesse in the art of communication, listening, and compromise. At times we all slip and pride gets in the way. However, when there is a strong enough desire to set things right, love will always trump pride.