Double Feature: Maleficent & Brave
Mother's Day (You Should At Least Call)
May 6, 2016 at 11:00 am
Mother’s Day is THIS SUNDAY (for those of you who may have forgotten) and while there’s nothing you can do to ever pay her back for those nine months you spent inside of her and all the ensuing years you spent outside of her, you should probably still try. So, make her brunch, do the dishes, and sit down with her to enjoy this double feature.
Maleficent is Disney’s Wicked knock-off from a couple of years ago, and Angelina Jolie and Elle Fanning are phenomenal as the fairy/witch Maleficent and Princess Aurora.
It’s Sleeping Beauty, but with more war and abuse and men being terrible in general. Basically, the king violates Angelina Jolie, breaks her trust and her wings/spirit, and then the whole movie revolves around her plot to enact revenge. It’s fantastic.
So, in the beginning, she thinks that the way to do this is to curse his child (because what suffering could be greater than watching your child suffer; or, worse, watching them frolic and play but knowing their life is cursed/doomed); however, over the course of the movie she comes to understand that the child should not be punished for the sins of her father — that the child, in fact, is very sweet and very kind and needs her protection (from the very literal patriarchy).
The heart of this movie (and the reason I’ve chosen it for your Mother’s Day Double Feature) comes with the waking of Aurora — True Love’s Kiss.
I mean, I don’t want to spoil anything for you, but I think you can see where this is going. (There is no love more true or more pure than the love of a mother/the one who raises and protects you/shields you from the evils of men.)
And that’s what this movie is all about: women supporting each other. It’s about women turning away from their internalized misogyny — that taught tendency to blame each other for the failings of men — in order to support their fellow women! It’s about women loving women! Found families! So Good! So Pure!
Next, you watch Brave, because it will ruin you with tears and you won’t be able to do much of anything afterwards but love and appreciate your mother.
Now, I’ll be honest: when I went to see Brave I had absolutely no idea what it was about (ginger princess has cute accent, doesn’t want to marry a smelly boy — that’s all I was working with), but I walked out of that theater blubbering and dialing home.
It’s just so darn heartwarming. Mothers accepting daughters, daughters accepting mothers, loving families, healthy relationships, men being almost entirely comic relief — what more could you ask for, really?
Brave does an amazing job with its characters (not to mention that production value, my god), especially when it comes to grounding these conflicts in pretty universal emotions. But, like, of course — it’s Pixar. This movie manages to convey the rupture between these two women without demonizing either of them; it’s very even-handed in that way.
That balance really contributes to its overall message: (like Maleficent) reject that socialized propensity to blame or punish other women when things go wrong (or differently than how you expect them to go). Instead, the lesson is that women achieve the most when they work together to mend the wrongs of the past.
Both of these movies eschew the traditional Disney emphasis on romantic relationships for a focus on familial love — an active intention that really culminates in Frozen (but we can talk about that another time).
Maleficent and Brave are really here to draw attention to the mother/daughter relationship more so than, say, Frozen or Lilo & Stitch (but there’s another great Double Feature for you — do that one for your sister’s birthday). Maleficent and Brave are here to remind us of how great our mothers are, how important that relationship of love and support between two women is, and to reassure us of the unconditionality of that love.
So go see your mother this weekend (or, if that is maybe not fiscally feasible for you, at least call) and use brunch foods and this movie pairing to thank her for all she’s done and all she continues to do.