The other day, dharma_slut
posted this link to a TEDx Talk by Colin Stokes, about the correlation between our modern rape culture and the lack of movies that pass the Bechdel Test:http://youtu.be/Nx8RRIiP53Q
Quick summary of his thesis:
A) It's not enough that we empower girls to protect themselves against the Patriarchy; we have to teach boys to fight the Patriarchy, too.
B) Adventure movies aimed at young male audiences that Don't
pass the Bechdel Test have the following subtext: "The role of the True Man is to go out Alone and Kill the Bad Guys, and then come home and collect his reward: a woman who has no friends, and doesn't speak."
C) It's time for fathers to teach their sons that it's a good thing to want to be on Team
with the goal of helping others, instead of being a Solo Renegade, even if the leader of that team is a woman, and that Real Men trust their sisters.
And part of his talk was a strong endorsement, by name, of Pixar's new Movie "Brave."
Based on that recommendation, I did something I'd never planned on doing: Gave Google my credit card number, and rented "Brave" for 48 hours of watching over the Internet. I just finished watching the first time through tonight... May watch it again before time's up tomorrow.
Anyway: I wanted to report: not only does it pass the Bechdel Test (the whole movie is basically a long conversation between Mother and Daughter about How to Lead your
Queendom), it also passes the Disability Test I came up with a couple of weeks ago.
The King loses half his leg in the first act (before the tenth minute), in a fight with a demon bear. And for the rest of the film, his peg leg is treated as proof that he Survived, rather than a reason to be pitied.
So it has a disabled character. And while he boasts
about getting revenge against the demon, that's clearly for the sake of a good story; he spends all his actual energy trying to maintain the peace in his kingdom (mainly between his wife and teenage daughter), so it's clear that that's his real motivation. And the movie has a happy ending, even though (*gasp*) he still has a peg leg at the end.
Anyway, the movie's page on YouTube has snippets of reviews from Rotten Tomatoes, and while the majority were positive (overall 78% positive), even the good reviews were kind of lukewarm. Now that I've seen the movie, I
think a big reason for that is what I call: "Mashed potatoes Vs. Vanilla ice cream Syndrome;" they may be the best mashed potatoes ever to come out of any chef's kitchen, but if you gobble down a mouthful expecting ice cream, you're going to hate them.
The number one thing that I noticed about this film, in comparison with all the other Pixar movies I've seen is that it is so much darker.
First, it's literally
darker. Every other movie from them has been "candy-colored:" the worlds of children's toys, and tropical fish in coral reefs, and crayon-colored monsters in closets. This movie was set in the Scottish Highlands, in the Middle Ages, and its color palette is dominated by fog, and stone, and deep, dark forests
(still image from the film of the heroine riding her black horse through a fog-shrouded ring of standing stones). I, on the other hand, love
those forest/earth tones. But I still recommend watching the 2-D version, and turning the brightness on your screen all the way up.
Second, it's thematically
darker (and that may be what dampened reviewers' enthusiasm most of all). Usually, these kinds of "kids' movies" get their happy ending from the moral: "Free spirits just have to be Free!!
. But this
movie gets its happy ending from the moral: "Free Spirits must learn to temper their Hearts' Desires with Responsibility Toward Their Community." The soaring ballad during the closing credits is "Learn me Right," and it's all about owning up to your mistakes: needing, seeking, and earning, forgiveness.
According to Box Office Stats (unfortunately powerful), this was the first Pixar movie to fail to come in the Top Ten of the Year (it came in #11). I can't help but wonder if it would have done better as an autumn movie-- it certainly had an autumn feel, rather than summer vacation and cotton candy... you know?
Anyway, I liked it.