[This post contains spoilers for Disney Pixar's new movie 'Brave'. Although they are kept down to a minimum, readers who have not seen the movie and want to remain unspoilered, might do well to come back for a new post tomorrow and skip this one.]
Yesterday, I went to see 'Brave' for the first time. I had been looking forward to it greatly and it did not disappoint. Were there points that could be improved? Yes, certainly, but that was more a question of time, than a failure of writing. If the movie had been half an hour longer, any minor points, like a few one-dimensional characters and some flow issues, could have been fixed easily.

Although there were some lows, the highs far outweighed them. Mirida, Brave's hero princess, is likeable and voiced marvelously. The voice work is really good across the board, but what did you expect with actors like Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson, Julie Walters, Robbie Coltrane, Kevin McKidd, Craig Ferguson and many others attached to the project?

For those (very, very few) unfamiliar with Brave; Brave is set in ancient Scotland where four family clans rule over the land. Merida's father Fergus (Billy Connolly) has been chosen to rule as king. Now Merida is coming of age, it's time she gets married... and that is where the trouble starts. Because Merida (Kelly Macdonald), much to her mother Elinor's (an absolutely incredible Emma Thompson) horror, not only does not want to get married but wants to go out into the forrest, improve her already impeccable archery skills, and be the wonderful tomboy that she is.

When Merida makes a show of kicking her suitors' asses, all hell breaks lose in the kingdom, Merida runs away and proceeds to make some incredibly stupid choices to get her mother to give up on this whole marriage thing. The rest of the movie focusses on Merida and her mother as they try to undo the mistakes made by both of them.

The movie focusses heavily on the relationship between mother and daughter, on the mistakes we make when we are young and how we must live with these mistakes. There's nothing overtly Pagan about the movie but the celtic themes made my Pagan heart beat just a little faster. This was aided by the truly magnificent animation. Everything looks fantastic. From the characters to the environment, to Merida's bright read hair which was--as a good friend told me--animated nearly strand by strand. As far as animation goes, Pixar has truly outdone themselves with Brave. It not only looks pretty, it looks real. Merida's smile, her hair, Elinor's errr... body... throughout the second part of the movie, the Will-'o-Wisps... all were mesmerizing.

I did not want to write a review when I started writing this today. I honestly don't know what I wanted to share with you. Brave struck a cord with me. I knew it, about 15 minutes in, when the first song started as Merida rode out of the castle during her day off from her princess duties and I was crying in the movie theater, the feeling of freedom soaring through my chest. I know that without seeing the movie, the song will probably not convey this feeling well, but listen to it anyway.

We all strive to be free. While we want stability, community, family, tasks to perform so we can feel good about ourselves, above all, we want to be ourselves. I dare say that the need to be ourselves is a Pagan binding factor. I don't know a single Pagan who did not (partially) come to Paganism to find themselves. Myself included. Way back when, it was Celtic music that brought me to Paganism. The kick-back to days of old, to a land filled with wonder and promises, to a more honest way of living, were like a band-aid to my weary mind and soul.

I don't have a good relationship to my mother. We went through hell together and, unlike Merida, we never got our moment to make it right. I think we both tried, in our own, limited, way, to undo some of the damage done but the chasm that has grown between us won't be bridged easily or soon. There is too much pain, too much resentment and too much healing to be done first. Again, on both sides. 

Watching Brave spoke to both my need to be myself and the hurt I still feel over my frail relationship with my mother. Before watching Brave, I read that you should see Brave with your mother but that won't do the trick for me. There is no quick fix. But it made me wish there was, which will make me try harder next time I see my mom. As for being myself and being free... I made and still make my own choices. I move on, grow, find my path, and above all; 'I will take hold of my own dreams, be as strong as the seas are stormy, and proud as an eagle’s scream. I will ride, I will fly, chase the wind and touch the sky'.