Almost a year before its release, we’re already hearing about Brave, Pixar’s lucky thirteenth animated film to be released on June 22, 2012. And — the big news — it’s their first to feature a female protagonist.
Set in the 10th century in the Scottish highlands, the film tells the story of a rebellious princess. Princess Merida is “a skilled archer and impetuous daughter of King Fergus and Queen Elinor. Determined to carve her own path in life, Merida defies an age-old custom sacred to the uproarious lords of the land.”
Some of the film’s concept art, along with a teaser trailer, has been released. These images and video reveal Merida’s fierce look, with wild curly red hair and piercing eyes. She wields a bow and arrow and looks very kick-ass.
Much has already been written about Pixar’s up-until-now absence of a true female lead. Not only have they failed to give female character to inherently genderless objects, like robots and cars, they have also twisted nature by assigning maleness to characters like bees and ants who would in real life be the female of the species. Their reputation regarding gender balance also hasn’t been helped by the replacement of Brenda Chapman (Pixar’s first female director) as director of Brave. She is now credited as co-director of the film.
Rather than contributing much to this argument (there’s plenty for you to read at those links), I’d like to try to move beyond it, and look at this film as a positive step in the right direction. Yes, it is terrible that this is Pixar’s first female protagonist, after twelve films without one. And yes, this character is a princess. But she’s a kick-ass, brave princess.
From the looks of it, she rejects her parents’ wishes and tradition by taking on men in archery, and must face challenges through which her bravery shines through.
An atypical heroine in a film intended for everyone is nothing to by cynical about. I, for one, am looking forward to the film’s release next year. I’m excited for girls to have such a role model, even if it is a belated one. Please, Pixar, don’t prove me wrong.