Watch and Be Brave

Walt Disney Brave Merida
photo source: dailyrecord.co.uk

*uber late post

Three words to describe Disney’s animated film, Brave:

Cute

Funny

Touching

One word to describe:

Brave

The title itself describes on how the latest animated film of Disney deviates from classic Disney films. Disney innovates not only its technology, but also its characters and stories. Brave shows that Disney broadens the audience’s view of character roles.  Merida, the female protagonist, is not vulnerable like Snow White, not helpless like Princess Aurora, not graceful like Princess Jasmine, not too kind and submissive like Cinderella. Merida, is not only aggressive, strong, and willful but she is also a problem-solver and independent and that makes her different from Ariel and Belle.

The film breaks away from conventions that we usually see in other fairy tale films of Disney. There is a witch but there is no clear villain. There is no true love’s kiss. There is no handsome prince to save a meek princess. The film centers on Merida alone.  She created her own problem but eventually learned to find her way out.

In comparison with our favorite princesses who end up tying a knot with their love interest, Merida fights for independence unlike other princesses. Female independence is not a common theme in animated films. Ariel fought for her dream to be Part of that World but it wasn’t exactly independence. She left her ocean family to be with her dream man. Note that she lost her identity by trading her fins with feet. On the other hand, Merida voices out her desire to follow her heart,  to  find love in the right time which unfortunately her mother could not agree. Merida’s fulfillment does not rely on the arms of a man but basically, she pleads for freewill.

The princess does not wear fancy glass slippers nor walk like Kate Middleton. She lets her hair dance with the wind. She moves like Rapunzel of Tangled and perhaps Tiger of Winnie the Pooh, playful and bouncing all the time. She runs swiftly, climbs the hills, laughs hard.

If you try to look for underlying theme of Brave, there is a question of women empowerment. In a poor mindset, women are oppressed when men oppress them. In the film, a woman is oppressed by another woman. It was not a male figure who was trying to cage Merida. The prince and her father seemed to be negotiable.  In the beginning, the mother  controlled the life of her daughter by arranging her daughter’s marriage and by teaching her the basics of being a princess. Another thought to ponder; “If a woman says she believes in welfare of  her fellow women, if a woman wants to preach women empowerment, but hinders the growth of another woman’s personhood or curtails her right, can we say it is not women empowerment at all?”

Female audience find it funny that the male characters are portrayed weak. In archery, Merida excelled among her suitors. With the relationship of the king and wife, the wife appeared more dominant strict, stern, and decisive.

Like all Disney movies, it has a happy ending. But unlike other happy endings, it concludes with  a familial bond which all ages can relate upon. Merida gets what she wants without dishonoring her parents.  The film conveys a message that one’s family is  as important as one’s freedom. Children should learn  fairy tales don’t have to end with royal weddings.

Larsson’s Story: Better read than seen

Am I too late to be obsessed with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo?

Is there anybody out there still interested to listen about The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo?

Whatever.

I am experiencing Larsson’s fever. To cure such fever, I need to write all my thoughts to my heart’s content about the story that had been part of my summer. They say when you’re done reading a book, it’s like losing a friend. Like losing a loved one, it is hard to move on, especially when you think about Larsson gone forever. You need to talk about it all over again just to lessen the burden of losing someone.

Probably by now, you must have watched the film adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. If you haven’t, read the book first.

I highly recommend to read the book first before you watched the movie. For one reason, you will not have any feelings towards the film. You will not feel betrayed if the movie does not meet your expectation. Or, you will not learn to like it, the way people who have read the book first. You’ll just feel neutral. Why?

First, if you are not listening carefully to the dialogues of the characters, you might get lost in the story. The book is heavy in dialogue, same with the movie. It’s about digging facts. This means if you are not paying much attention to some boring movie scenes like Salander browsing her computer or Blomkvist browsing the pictures, you might not be able to understand the story.

Second, it is not as thrilling as the book. When you read a mystery novel, you end up saying, “I knew it! ” or you might say,” I should have known.” Because a 158-minute film cannot include everything found on the book, it does not mentally torture you with a number of motives, prospects, or evidence. You don’t feel like guessing at all.

Third, the film adaptation does not tell you much of how deep the partnership of Blomkvist and Salander is. Blomkvist and Salander spend a lot of time together in the book. They have long walks. They sit in the garden. They have coffee and sandwich. It is quite understandable that any director will choose to leave these details out. But these little moments in the book can make you feel that you’ve known Blomkvist and Salander for a long time.

Fourth, you will not get to know Salander and Blomkvist, the way readers do. You cannot read the characters’ thoughts in film. The movie cannot make the audience fully realize that Lisbeth Salander has a heart too (though Rooney Mara played the role well). The film adaptation does not  show scenes of  Salander and her mother which I think  is an important part of Salander’s history.

But…

I am not saying the movie is no good at all. I am happy that David Fincher tried to be  faithful to the book. I saw some parts of the first film adaptation of The Girl with Dragon Tattoo, the Swedish version. By comparison, I can say that the Hollywood version fits more to my imagination. Most of the lines were taken from the book. David Fincher kept some scenes disturbing as they were in the book. Fincher was as highly detailed  in making the film as Larsson was as highly detailed in writing his novel. He was unforgiving in brutally showing the biggest moment in the trilogy of Larsson. I had to close my eyes.

The lead actors were perfect for their roles. Daniel Craig looked stern and attractive. That’s how Mikael Blomkvist should be! Rooney Mara is such a pretty lady. But she was uglified in the movie. Did you know she need to get drunk to internalize her role as Lisbeth Salander? For someone who had not been drinking,  it was  very convincing to see her with psychological problems. Her voice also fits to Larsson’s description of  Salander’s voice, as someone who sounds like a sandpaper.  Also, she had a Swedish accent. She had an expressionless face in the entire movie which I must say, that is so Lisbeth. My only problem with Rooney is her height. Lisbeth Salander is 4’11 tall but Rooney Mara  is 5’6 tall. David Fincher said he could not  find someone who was as short as Lisbeth Salander. Oh Fincher, you should have  visited the Philippines!  LOL

What the novels lacks, the movie can provide. David Fincher captures artistic shots of Sweden. The sounds amplified the tension. You can see how gloomy Vanger’s  mansion is. The winter atmosphere made the film darker. You can almost shiver as you enter the gates of Vanger’s home. For a story that does not require a lot of action scenes, the cast and production manage to make the story visually entertaining.

Watch the movie…..

But for your own sake, read the book first.

Why Dances with Wolves

There are a lot of reasons why you and I should include Dances with Wolves in our must-see movie list. My primary reason is Kevin Costner. And my personal reason is he is handsome, even today and even tomorrow. I have to remind myself that he is older than the eldest in my family. And his daughter is older than me. But his eyes make you melt. That’s what I call “actor’s eyes”.

Second and the primary reason for everybody else is that the movie won Oscars Best Picture in 1991. Not only that, they won Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing. Best Sound, Best Original Score. I guess this fact alone is enough to build your curiosity.

Third, the lead actor is the director himself. Kevin Costner was nominated as Best Actor. It was the first movie he directed which gave him the award Best Director 

Fourth reason, it’s a product of first time. Aside from having a first-time director, it was based on the first novel of Michael Blake. Most of the cast members had never had acting experience in film before they starred in Dances with Wolves.(That’s inspiring for people who don’t want to try because of lack of experience)

Fifth reason, the length of the movie does not follow the convention of a typical movie. The movie takes three hours. Kevin Costner presented the story to a couple of producers but none of them agreed to make the film. He then ended up making his own film. Thus having said the length of the film, it has the tendency to be boring. It depends on your level of film viewing maturity. Length also means details.

Sixth reason, the film is very American but it gained more profit in Europe than in US. (You realize that sometimes the people near you are not necessarily your direct target market). This story is based on the early of times of America when white men were conquering the lands of Indians. 

Lastly, it’s about friendship. It is unthinkable to have a shared understanding of two cultures. For the language barrier, they rely on one woman to be their translator. It’s about cultural assimilation, to leave prejudice behind and build new relationship.

You’ll find other deeper reasons to watch the movie. And I’m leaving it all to Wikipedia or Rotten Tomatoes for your plot summary. For the artistry and the production aspects of the film, I’m leaving it all to more trusted film critics as I cannot give justice.