A different kind of princess

The world of Disney is unveiling a princess who might just be able to kick other princesses’ royal behinds.

Disney Pixar released yet another extended theatrical trailer for “Brave” yesterday. The movie will join the likes of “Toy Story,” “Up” and “Wall-E.”

Princess Merida, the protagonist of the feature film, lives in the rustic Highlands of Scotland, which is shadowed in mystery and run by tradition. Her father, King Fergus, rules the land. Princess Merida has unruly red hair that could rival the bushiness of book version Hermione Granger’s hair, a rough Scottish brogue and triplet brothers who are more than willing to participate in her fun and games.

Based on the trailer, there’s a tradition that says the princess must marry a Scottish lord. Yet Princess Merida is strong and independent and would rather “stay single and let [her] hair flow in the wind as [she rides] through the land, flying arrows into the sunset,” according to her father.

Ultimately, her staunch resistance to the court’s norms causes disappointment with her parents and talk from the kingdom’s people. Princess Merida wants her fate to change and seeks a witch who can do that for her. But this is where her plans go wrong, and she must prove her courage in righting them.

Brave diverges from the typical Disney kingdom-set feature films because of the protagonist’s free-spirited, fiery and independent and the presence of a motherly figure in the film.

Often in Disney movies with a royal theme, the (step)mother of the princess is either horribly cruel or neglectfully absent.

Look at the examples: Snow White’s mother tries to kill her with a poisoned apple. Cinderella’s stepmother treats her like a slave and prizes her dumb and dumber daughters. Sleeping Beauty’s Aurora grows up in a cottage, away from her mother for her own protection. As evident from the trailer, Merida’s mother, Queen Elinor (voiced by Emma Thompson), tries to secure the best future for her headstrong daughter.

Well, Princess Merida makes it hard for the Queen to plan her future.

The suitors that Princess Merida must choose from are painfully unappealing. One scene has them displaying their ‘skills’ in archery. The next scene shows Princess Merida beating all three and the incredulous reaction of the crowd. That’s right, Katniss. You might have a rival in Princess Merida.

Most of the Disney princess need to be saved – from their broken homes, other nasty suitors and assassination attempts from vain and vicious queens. If it weren’t for Prince Charming, Cinderella would still be slaving for her stepmother. Without Aladdin, Princess Jasmine would have had to marry the lecherous Jafar. If Sleeping Beauty didn’t get that kiss, she’d still be in La-La land.

Princess Merida, the heroine in "Brave."

To make up for the ‘trials and tribulations’ that these princesses have to go through and also to appease the audience, moviemakers often allow the princesses to have happy endings: uncharacteristically good looking, and sensitive husbands who claim they will protect their princesses for life.

Well, this is the day and age where the U.S. Census in 2007 says the number of divorced or widowed people in America is 36 million. Men who attempt to charm women with such lies would probably earn a scoff rather than a swoon.

I’m not trying to say that romance is not a good thing, but if a kid watches one of these Disney movies religiously, he or she might have some highly unrealistic expectations for his or her own future romances. Princess Merida shows that marriage is not the first thing on her list – and that’s perfectly fine.

The adventure in the feature film also sets it apart. Arrows, horseriding, swordfighting are all expected to be part of the plot. In one scene of the trailer, Princess Merida jumps into the air, trying to escape the grasp of some terrifying creature with claws that seriously need to be clipped. But then the screen fades away, holding the audience in suspense.

“Brave” won’t be released until June 22, but for the time being, the parents will be glad to know that there’s a new female role model for their daughters at the end of the wait.

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