What I Learned From Brave

Like many people, I love Pixar films. They get right to the core of what it means to be human, and tell stories with sincerity that other studios lack. I went to Brave with some trepidation, but still had hope because it was Pixar. What I feel I found was a film that was almost a Pixar movie.

I don’t really want to ruin the plot, but when I say that I knew the entire plot—twists included—just from watching the trailers, I mean it. Truly, nothing in the film surprised me. Perhaps backstory of the demon bear? I guess I didn’t know that. Everything else I did, though. That screams of an incomplete story.

I saw the film with a grad school friend, and while the credits ran, we couldn’t help but give the film a workshop critique and continued to do so on the drive back to my apartment. I felt bad at first, because it’s wasn’t a bad movie, just not up to Pixar par.

Then I realized we were amid a good writing exercise. I recognized these flaws:

  1. Lacks character development.
  2. Lacks depth and completeness of story.
  3. Fails to make the audience care.

That sounds harsh, but I point these out because of the good they did for me. I’ve solidified the edits I’ve been wanting to make on my current project. I said that it was almost a Pixar film; I think one more development run and an extra draft would have gotten it there. Likewise, I knew that there was something missing in my current project, and have fought with nailing it down for about six months.

My main character was much like Merida: took some things at face value, whined, and otherwise had little genuine emotion behind her voice. I also had plot holes that weren’t sizable, but left the story flat. I think I’ve found a way to give my character an internal voice while giving her a fuller world to exist within.

And I wouldn’t have done that without Brave.

3 Comments on “What I Learned From Brave

  1. I was afraid of this. Pixar was so intent on putting out a movie with girl as the main character, that they skipped some important story development. Instead of “here’s another really great movie!”, it’s “HERE!!! A MOVIE WITH A GIRL!!! WE’RE SO AWESOME!!!!!”. 

    Granted, I haven’t seen it yet. But from what you’ve said, and other things I’ve read about it, I’m afraid it’s going to let me down. 

    • I point out the “movie with a girl”, because this is the first Pixar film with a female protagonist. They’ve received a lot of criticism for that, and this appears to be their response. 

      • Yeah. It really feels like it was a bunch of guys fumbling around to write a girl’s story. I know its co-director was female, but I also know the rest of the story development team was the usual group of guys. I think they just didn’t know what to do with it.

        For the record, though, I think it is worth watching. Wait until it’s at Movies 8 or rent it. But you’ll find yourself itching to improve the story in a good way, and the animation is golden. Right up there with Finding Nemo.

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