Moviefan12: Hello & welcome back to Power of The Princesses and after the special Rapunzel edition, Princesses returns to normal as we take a look at the first princess from Pixar and to join me once again, is someone I admire and respect, Creepy. Creepy, thank you for joining me to look at Princess Merida.
CG: “Thanks, MF!
I first saw this film with my boyfriend, Ingonyama70. At the time, I had no idea what to expect. The reviews that I’d seen for Brave were divisive, to put it mildly. Some heralded Brave as the film that set a new standard for movies aimed at a young demographic. Others decried it as tripe. After watching it, I have to concur that my feelings land on the former.
Moviefan12: I remember those complaints and at the time, I didn’t get it because I too thought the former. Now, I’ve also noticed that from within, the Disney fan community, there have been “purists” that don’t think Merida should’ve been made an official Disney Princess solely based on the face that she’s from Pixar and I can’t agree with that. That’s like people who said Rapunzel shouldn’t be part of the line up, because of her being a CGI Princess. I think having Merida being a part of the official line up is important, not just because she’s from Pixar. That really has nothing to do with it but more the fact that Merida was the first princess, who wasn’t interested in getting a man in her film. (Elsa fans, sometimes forget that) and that her arc was a different kind of love story, it was a mother/daughter film and it’s important to show that relationship. Honestly, Merida while not my favorite Pixar character or even one of my favorite princesses, I find her rather refreshing in that, she fights against the notion of marrying. Creepy, any thoughts on this, before we move on?
CG: This was a refreshing change of pace. I also think that it’s a subject a lot of young people, boys and girls, can identify with. Not so much the concept of marriage, but the onset of greater responsibility. Merida tries to duck getting married because she is content with her life as it is. She sees the future as something to dread and dodge for as long as possible.
The lesson Merida ultimately learns is that the future is inevitable, and that no one remains the same forever. She must find the proper balance between the life she has and the role she must inherit. The relationship between herself and her mother is very well portrayed. Merida does make several valid points, and is shown to be both clever and intelligent. At the same time, however, she lacks the wisdom and experience that her mother has. She’s not perfect, but she isn’t meant to be perfect. No one is, and the conflict between Merida and her mother highlights both characters’ flaws well.
Ingonyama70 once compared Merida to Ariel from The Little Mermaid. While I can definitely see a comparison, I also disagree somewhat. Ariel and Merida do share common traits. They are both stubborn, willful, defiant, and at odds with a parent. I personally find Merida to be the superior character. We see far better development of Merida and the authoritative character she clashes with. Also, the film itself is more self-aware of the protagonist’s flaws. I found myself sympathizing with Merida’s plight while recognizing the need for her to change and grow as a person. The Little Mermaid seemed to overlook that need.
However, I still cheered a little when Merida took a stand and competed in the archery tournament for her right to decide for herself what her life would be.
Moviefan12: While I do see the comparison, and it is one, I’ve thought before as well, I’ll freely admit that I am more partial to Ariel, out of these two redheads but Ariel has always been a childhood favorite of mine. I already talked about her with ME’s biggest Ariel fan though, and today is all about Merida. And per usual, we will be looking at Original Voice Actress, First Appearance, Favorite Moments, Later Appearances and finally, Is Merida A Good Character? With that out of the way, let’s begin.
Original Voice Actress
Moviefan12: I’ll be honest and say that this is the only role, I know of from Kelly Macdonald and she does a very good job, getting across the brash and rebellious nature of Merida. Her voice actually makes you feel that she is Merida. I think this also helps in part from her like Merida actually being Scottish. You see Macdonald, wasn’t the original choice to play Merida as Pixar originally wanted Reese Witherspoon to voice Merida but Ms. Witherspoon had to drop out due to scheduling conflicts. No disrespect to Reese Witherspoon, but I think it was for the best that she didn’t play Merida because I feel like Kelly Macdonald brought authenticity to the character and sure, it may just be the accent but it worked for me.
CG: Kelly Macdonald provided the voice of Merida as a young woman while Peigi Barker voiced Merida as a child. Both did an admirable and applause-worthy job, but Macdonald is the voice whom I remember best (due to older-Merida getting the most screen time). Macdonald does a great job of giving Merida the fire and spirit she needs to be a convincing tomboy princess with a heart and mind of her own.
Moviefan12: We first see Merida as a 6 year old on her birthday asking to shoot her father’s bow and arrow and is led to the Will O’Wisps and her mother informs the young child, that they’ll lead you to your fate.
We first see the older Merida some years during a day off spending time with her horse , riding shooting arrows and climbing Misty Mountain, all set to the wonderful song, “Touch The Sky”. Merida climbing Misty Mountain is the one sequence from the intro that has always stuck with me.
This is such a great introduction for Merida as it gives you an idea of who she is. I think, this line gives you a perfect idea of who Merida is.
There comes a day when I don’t have to be a princess. No rules, no expectations. A day where anything can happen. A day where I can change my fate.
CG: The young Merida is a Merida of innocence. The world is new, strange, and most of all, exciting to her. Many things call out to her, which is what I think the Will O’ Wisps symbolize. She’s being enticed by what is unknown. This isn’t spelled out for us in clunky dialogue, but rather implied through visual imagery, music, and the language expressed through the characters’ movements.
The older Merida shows experience. She’s not a fully grown woman yet, but the changes and experiences she’s gone through show in her confidence. The world is still exciting for her, but also more familiar. Again, the music and body language shown during the scene where ‘Touch The Sky’ plays shines through to show off the character. Rather than be told about her, we see her adventures and her wild reckless spirit play out on screen.
Moviefan12: Now, let’s move onto Personality
Moviefan12: Merida is at best , a tomboy and because of that, she often clashes with her mother. Because she doesn’t agree with some of the social standards and if I remember right, she states that she feels that she’d be better off, if she weren’t a princess. Merida’s biggest personality flaw is that she is hotheaded and stubborn. Those aspects are important to show how she clashes with Elinor in her beliefs. The Disney Wiki also describes Merida as being daring, (yep), courageous and … brave (title drop). While I can see that, the film does seem to highlight her stubbornness, the most. Now, being stubborn isn’t always a bad thing. You need a little stubbornness, if you want to achieve your goal in life. Merida is also pretty short tempered. Just like how I described Ariel as a teenager, I also think that word can apply to Merida as well. Because these two feel the most like teenagers in my opinion.
CG: Merida does feel like a teenager throughout the film. However, she’s still a likeable enough character with sympathetic traits. She wants to live the kind of life that makes her happy, and sees the life her parents (particularly her mother) have laid out for her as a hindrance.
At first glance, it would be simple to take Merida’s side and decry Elinor as the ‘villain’. The problem with this train of thought is that Merida really isn’t wise or experienced enough to handle the world. She makes numerous mistakes throughout the film. Elinor is the wiser of the two, but also caught in the trap of who she sees her daughter as. The point of the two traveling together to see the witch and undo the spell is for them to learn from one another. Merida sees how her selfishness has hurt her mother dearly and put her father’s kingdom in jeopardy. Elinor, by contrast, sees how forcing Merida into a situation has made her miserable. She also finds out from first-hand experience that Merida is knowledgeable about the ways of the forest, and a survivor in her own right. She has a lot to feel proud of in her daughter, and this comes out as the story progresses.
Now, it’s time to go over our favorite moments from the film. I was torn between Merida sewing the tapestry back together and what I ultimately went with. My favorite moment happens to be…
Princess Merida: I am Merida, and I’ll be shooting for my own hand
Moviefan12: Admittedly, this scene won out for just how cool, it is . I mean everything from Merida taking off the cloak and that line to her arrow perfectly hitting the target. Everything about this scene is just awesome. It just works so well and perfectly shows who Merida is.
Also weird aside, but there were a lot of archers in movies in 2012 from Katniss in The Hunger Games to Hawkeye in The Avengers along with Merida in Brave. What brought about the resurgence of archery in film?
CG: I don’t know myself why archery has become “cool” again, except perhaps a game of Follow The Leader. That moment is just perfect, though, and I’d have to agree that it’s my favorite moment as well. I like that the film showcases the consequences of Merida’s actions as well. Merida is awesome for standing up for what she believes, but at the same time, she doesn’t get out of facing the shitstorm her actions unleash later on.
Another great moment is when Merida cuts the tapestry her mother has been sewing down the middle. This is actually the opposite of Merida on the archery range. Merida stands in defiance of Elinor in this scene. She is saying that she doesn’t care who gets hurt or what happens, she is doing what she wants to do. The remainder of the film shows the tragedy that follows, but it is a great scene all the same. This is the scene that sets off the second act, and it works on a lot of levels.
Moviefan12: Now let’s move onto Later Appearances.
Moviefan12: The first thing, I’m going to bring up is actually an appearance that was in the film that preceded Brave. You see, Pixar likes to plant Easter Eggs for their upcoming films in their movies and the movie that preceded Brave was Cars 2 and the tapestry from Brave makes a cameo featuring Merida, Elinor, and Fergus as cars. Make of it, what you will?
Now before I move on, there is something that needs to be tackled regarding Merida. You see, when she first joined the Disney Princess line, she received a redesign and well, this is true of all the princesses, a good majority have just been redesigned , a couple years back but Merida’s redesign sparked some controversy with some people dubbing , this new redesign , “Sexy” Merida.
Now, I’ve already gone over this in the past in a Can We Talk about and how I didn’t see what the big fuss was, but a lot of people were furious with the redesign saying that the new redesign betrayed Merida’s character by putting her in a dress and making her “sexy” sent a bad message to young girls. There was a petition on Change.org and even original Brave director, Brenda Chapman and nerd icon and creator of MLP G4, Lauren Faust said on Twitter that she was not a fan of the redesign. In my opinion, Disney rightfully said that they felt the whole thing had been blown out of proportion and pulled Merida’s original “sexy” redesign and now, Last year, Merida along with the other princesses as I mentioned received a new redesign and in group shots of all the ladies, Merida is seen in her film outfit, while in products that only feature Merida, she is seen in her new 2013 redesign. Creepy, thoughts on this?
CG: Honestly, I see why the redesign would create such a stir. At first glance, it’s easy to dismiss the change as “Just a dress.” Putting Merida in new clothes doesn’t change her personality. Her wearing a different style of dress won’t change her values or make her into a different person. A dress is just a dress.
I actually lean more toward the other end of the spectrum with this argument. The point isn’t the dress. Merida is a tomboy, as you’ve stated before. She was in some ways the antithesis of what most Disney princesses are like. The closest one that comes to mind in relation to her is Mulan, at least for me. The point is not the dress, but what Merida’s dress represents. She is a wild rebel, a highland girl who loves the wilderness and the outdoors. She’s not the type to go around wearing dainty frills.
Putting her in such a dress does smell suspiciously of an attempt to ‘feminize’ her and make her appear more traditional. This would send an uncomfortable implication to young girls who look to Merida as a role model, and I do take the side of the people who cried out against that. Girls need role models the same way boys do, but they also need diversity. Male role models typically are more diverse than female role models. Girls are shown at a very young and impressionable age that they are supposed to fit a certain ‘type’. Merida was a princess who defied the stereotype, and sent a message at the same time that it was OKAY to be who you are, if that person happened to be a outdoorsy type who didn’t wear a lot of makeup or fret over the shape of her hair.
Moviefan12: Now, let’s move onto Merida’s other Appearances. Merida can be seen in the Festival of Fantasy parade in The Magic Kingdom.
She also along with most of the other princesses had a cameo in It’s A Small World: The Animated Series. Again, I didn’t think this was worth mentioning.
Merida has also been added to the 2.0 edition of Disney Infinity. Man, I may have to buy this game seeing it has Rapunzel, Merdia, Elsa, Anna, Stitch, and Tinker Bell in it.
Merida was revealed in a trailer alongside Maleficent of being added to this game. And before anyone asks, it’s Jolie Maleficent. Now, Merida has also been put into some of the Disney On Ice shows such as Rockin’ Ever After, the one that I saw with my family as a Christmas present. Which was awesome, especially when Merida shot the arrow but I took umbrage with them omitting Fergus and the whole bear plot.
Now, there aren’t too many other appearances to discuss regarding Merida. I’ve heard that the show runners for Once would love to work Merida into the show but seeing as season 4 is Frozen centric, that probably won’t happen for a while. Creepy, can you think of anything else to add?
CG: Not really. I do enjoy these little Merida easter eggs. I was not aware until you mentioned it that Merida was a part of the Infinity game. It would be cool to see her made a part of the Once Upon A Time storyline.
Now, it’s time to move onto the final part, and answer the question….
Is Merida A Good Character?
Moviefan12: I would say that Merida is indeed a good character. She shows young girls that they don’t have to all conform to the expected norm of being girly and that there is nothing wrong with being a tomboy. Merida may be a bit rebellious, hard headed, and stubborn but that makes her growth seem all the more realistic.
CG: I agree. Merida shows how those traits can be both positive and negative. We see her stubbornness as a detriment at first, but that same hard-headedness gives her the drive to success at whatever she sets her mind to. This is what helps her save her mother and younger brothers at the end. There is nothing wrong with blazing your own trail, but both Merida and Elinor demonstrate why wisdom and experience count when finding your way through the world.
Moviefan12: Creepy, thanks again for joining me.
CG: It was fun. 🙂