Saturday, June 23, 2012

Merida & Elinor - Mothers & Daughters

If there's one thing I'm completely familiar with it's the tenuous nature of the mother/daughter relationship. Especially when the daughter starts reaching an age where she just doesn't want to listen anymore. Ironically my age wasn't when I was a teenager but more now, in my twenties.

Watching Pixar's newest film, Brave, sort of gave me an eye-opener. Princess Merida and her mother Queen Elinor don't quite get along. Their personalities are so completely different that it's difficult for either of them to listen to the other. Elinor wants Merida to be a proper princess which includes marrying one of the firstborn sons of the clan leaders. Merida doesn't agree with her mother and that's putting it mildly. Problems start to ensue when Merida goes to a witch for a potion to change her mother's mind and thereby change her own fate. This magic doesn't work the way Merida had hoped and instead of changing her mother's mind Elinor gets changed into a bear instead.

Brave isn't just a fairytale/adventure story. It's not just a story about a rebellious teenage girl who doesn't want to listen to her mother. It's about a symbiotic relationship that absolutely must develop between them. Ironically when Merida's mother becomes a bear and Merida can't understand her speech, that's the time when they seem to understand each other on an intuitive level. Merida sees her mother with new eyes and Elinor realizes her daughter is growing up into a lovely young woman who she loves very much.

The trick in Brave is that they have to stop arguing before they can start communicating. Now, my mother and I don't really argue but we don't always agree and when we don't I tend to get mad like Merida and even lash out irrationally. Many daughters do the same because it feels like our mothers are interfering in our lives. What I needed to realize and all daughters need to realize is that we need to stop blaming our mothers for loving us and wanting to give us the best advice possible. We can't and shouldn't resent them for their love and their desire to see us succeed and become our absolute best. Even if their best for us isn't quite what we had in mind and isn't a part of our original goals. And never should we lash out as Merida did against her mother. The most poignant moment in the entire film was when Merida apologized to her mother and admitted how wrong and selfish she had been.

You'll often find that it is the daughter who reacts in anger and not the mother. That's the way it's always been with me and my mom and that's the way it is with Merida and hers. Not only did Merida learn a valuable lesson about owning up to her mistakes but so did I. I don't want to be that woman who refuses all advice her mother gives. Because you know something? My mom is actually a very wise woman and I love and respect her very much. Maybe it's time I started showing it more.

On a totally minor note, yes, there are some moments of nudity in Brave when the men use their kilts to climb down from a tower and when Merida's little brothers get turned back into boys when they had accidentally been bears, as well as the unfortunate incident of the nanny's décolleté. Just like Cars 2 was more for children, Brave is actually more for adults. I hope this unfortunate tendency doesn't become a habit with Pixar because I want to continue loving their films and it's difficult to do that when nudity insinuates itself.


  1. It sounds sweet. I'll rent the DVD and ClearPlay it. I was a bit shocked when I heard about the nudity -- that isn't needed.

    Interestingly, it's my dad I most frequently butt heads with -- Mom and I get along just fine. I suspect I argue with my dad because we are so much alike!

  2. Well said! I really liked the exploration of mother/daughter relationships in this film!


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