Last Saturday, I went to go see "Brave" with my sons. We rotate on whose turn it is to pick movies. I was a lot more excited than they were to see the movie, but they were good sports about it. I had just gone to their movie choice, "The Avengers" a couple of weeks ago. I wasn't very excited about that one, but Mark Ruffalo did make things more tolerable — not the Hulk part but the real guy part.
Last week I had heard an interview on NPR where Linda Wertheimer spoke with the producer of "Brave," Katherine Sarafian. The most exciting part of the interview was when they talked about Pixar having to create new software for Princess Merida's curly hair. "We'd really worked with the same suite of software since the earliest days." Sarafian said. "It was definitely time for an upgrade, but adopting new software is highly traumatic for a team. Everything had to be reinvented. But, you know, it was worth it, because the story served up this challenge of this spirited, untamed wild child of a girl. And that hair was part of her design and part of her character."
A female heroine who has curly hair — it is about time! I was also really curious to see how her curly hair would fare by the end of the movie. We have all seen countless movies where the curls are straightened for a happy ending, or where straight hair becomes curly when the story takes a turn for the worst.
"Brave" starts with Princess Merida as a small child, and her hair is amazing. In the next scene, she is a teenager and her hair is still beautiful. Merida's curls are the most realistic that I have ever seen on a big screen. I was thrilled that the curls never looked perfect. They moved, had texture and she had several different curl types on her head. There were even some realistic looking frizz and tangles. I imagine if she had modern day curly hair products, she would be a dead ringer for Jessicurl's Jessica McGuinty. Apparently a lot of others were thinking the same thing, including Jess.
The movie continues curly until Merida is forced to cover up her curls as part of her royal presentation to the clansmen. At this point, I was sure this would be the end of her curls, but just then, she pulled a lovely front curl out from under the cloth headdress. Whew, they're still there! What's more, they remain with her throughout the entire movie. Her curls were part of her strength and her identity. I was surprised by that and the way the story ends as well. She keeps her curls and her true personality in tact while learning to be a young adult. What a refreshing change from all the Disney movies I grew up with. "Brave" is a Disney fairy tale with a happy ending, but Princess Merida with her curly hair and a bow and arrow offer a twist that is very modern. Disney will be Disney, but they finally let the curls be alive and beautiful.
"Brave" is a movie that every curly can love. It reminds us that there are a lot of ways to be brave. Certainly embracing our natural hair and making curls a part of our identity has required many brave moments of all of us.
Have you seen Disney's first curly heroine on the big screen? What did you think?