Reflections on Motherhood in Two Movies.

I watched the movie “Brave” a pixar/disney film. I didn’t like any of the characters. I hated the story which is the old “princess has to marry a dweeb and rebels instead”. Except she doesn’t rebel, she turns her mother into a bear, regrets it and then turns her back, just in time.

There was nothing brave about any of the character’s actions except perhaps the mother who, as a bear, fights another bear. There was almost nothing about this movie that didn’t make me uncomfortable. At a time when we can be so visually stunning to waste all that on a stupid story with stupid characters is, well, stupid. Remember the Siamese cats in the Lady and the Tramp how scary it was to see them behave that way? That is how all the children in this movie made me feel.

Then I watched: “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” based on the 1943 novel by Betty Smith. It is black and white. The characters are a bit pat, and the story is predictable. It does show how much our attitudes about family, and children in particular have changed, at least in movies. I don’t suppose this was a movie meant for children which is weird too. I would rather protect my children from watching children acting like brats than to avoid a movie about birth, old age, sickness and death. There is growth on the part of the mother and daughter, and while there is a recognition of a desire to rebel on the part of the daughter there is no rebellion, just as there is an understanding on the part of the mother that she is “being hard” and yet she doesn’t waver from what she has to do and what she expects the daughter to do.

The two movies almost seem like they are from two different species. They both depend on glaring simplifications, it is the nature of the beast called entertainment, but while the threads get drawn together in time for the end in each of them, I felt nauscous after “Brave” like I had eaten too much theatre popcorn where as I felt like could have an optimistic little dream after “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn”.

We can tell stories that appeal to our better natures rather than piling on cring-worthy disasters that end with meaningless resolutions. When we do it well, we don’t need colourful animation.

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