Headscratchers / Brave

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     The Brave Mermaid 
  • A rebellious redhaired princess, after a fight with a parent that involved the destruction of a personal item(s) in a fit of rage, makes a deal with a witch that involves a transformation and a sunset deadline. I mean this in the most respectful way possible to the film and its fans, but is it me, or does it seem like this we've seen this plot before?
    • That exact scenario is in many stories. Children fight with their parents over many things, the child's personal property is just one example, and all children rebel at some point in their lives. Witches are almost (not always) necessary for a fantasy story. Sunset is the most common deadline for a spell to be permanent (in fact, I remember a story where they discuss why couldn't it be sunrise just to be different). Transformation spells are usually the most common asked since they want to escape something. And as for the red hair, well, there are only so many hair colours in the world.
      • Besides which, Brave does have a sunrise deadline.
    • Except that the movies went in two completely different directions. Also, Brave has a sunrise deadline, not a sunset one.
    • There are parallels, but it's worth noting that Merida is working to undo a mistake, while Ariel is pursuing an active goal. Also, Merida is principally self-reliant and only calls for help when she has to, while Ariel relies heavily on The Power of Friendship in her quest. And Merida has to repent, while Ariel is forgiven.
    • It's not just with this story, either...Disney has done it at least with one other, too. They've released two movies so far involving the bonds that exist between brothers (Brother Bear and Big Hero 6), both of which were focused on a revenge plot, with one character's center being "love" and a revenge-stricken person failing to see the use of it (Baymax and Hiro, Kenai and...Kenai), having two brothers with similar-sounding names (Denahi and Tadashi, anyone?) and featuring foils and parellels between the heroes and "villains", who were both only fighting for the sake of their child (Professor Callaghan and his daughter, Abigail, and Koda and his mother).

     Merida's Return Trip 
  • How does Merida end up all the way back at the stone circle immediately after talking to the witch? Was this supposed to be some sort of magic? I don't think the witch's hut was intended to be on a separate plane of reality since Merida is able to return to it without help from the Wisps later on. This is really important because it's the reason why she doesn't find out about the consequences of the spell until after she carries it out.
    • If you pay attention, there's another moment where Merida and Bear!Elinor are transported to the stones when they're running from Mor'du. They're established as being much further from the circle then the witch's hut is, yet they are transported all the same. And that time it saved their lives.
    • What's interesting about this is what it means. Clearly the magic which sent them back wasn't the witch's—she wasn't even there the second time as she was away at the Wicker Man festival. And if the theory is correct that the wisps have some connection to Mor'du, either being people of his kingdom he killed or past victims of the witch's spells, it wouldn't seem to make sense they would have such power. So either the wisps aren't either of those things, but Fair Folk as they seem to be...or the magic of the land itself, as imbued in the stones, was responsible.
      • This was confirmed by Mark Andrews himself. The Standing Stones are indeed meant to serve as a magical portal, based on the idea of a "fairy ring", except with giant stones instead of mushrooms.
      • Which also explains why killing Mor'du there helped break his curse and free him, and the same for the spell on Elinor. A place of power indeed. Neat!
      • What's great about this is that we all sort of knew this already. The stone ring is never referenced or noted in dialogue, but it has this air of mystery and gravity about it (almost definitely intended by the creators). That, coupled with the symbolism attached to circles in general, just make us go "ah, that all makes sense" without even realizing it.

     Failed a Spot Check 
  • In the scene where Merida is distracting the assembled clans with her speech while Elinor is trying to sneak across the back of the room to the bedrooms, how come the people standing behind Merida don't see Elinor?
    • Perhaps all their attention is on Merida, and Elinor only registers to them as a statue?
    • That's...a pretty big goof. I guess they could be focused on Merida, but that's still a bit fishy...
    • Another thing: What do you do when someone you're looking at suddenly looks up? You automatically look where they're looking.
      • One of the lords, Macintosh IIRC, did briefly begin to follow her vision when Merida's speech lagged but she retook his attention before he could fully turn around.
    • I forget what it's called, but there is a phenomenon where if you're focusing your attention on one thing, you can completely miss something else. It's illustrated by a video where you're supposed to count how many times two girls throw the ball back and forth, and at the end you have the answer but then it asks if you noticed the dancing bear. When you go back and re watch it, there is clearly a dancing bear in the background. It's freaky, and kind of ironic given the situation of the question.

     Merida's Bow 
  • Merida's original bow is ruined after Elinor throws it into the fire, so the next time she has a bow it's totally different one. Where did she get it from? Does she just have spare bows lying around in her room just in case?
    • I think it's completely reasonable that she'd have a spare bow or even more than that one. Perhaps it's like having a spare pair of glasses — you don't usually wear your spares, but you definitely do not want to be without one if you lose or break your main pair.
    • Actually itís not unheard of to outgrow a bow. Much like a violin, a bow is a piece of equipment that works better when it fits the person using it in relation to size. If you pay attention the bow that went in the flames was a bit larger than the one she uses later.
    • Also, she lives in a castle full of armed guards. Presumably it has an armory where she could grab a spare bow. The significance of the one that went into the fire was that it was her bow, not that it was the only bow in the castle.

     Whatever Happened to Elinor's Crown? 
  • In the fishing scene, Bear!Elinor takes off her crown and sets it on a rock before going into the river. The crown's still in the same spot when the she exits the river and starts acting like a real bear for the first time. She never gets it back afterward. So is the crown still lying there in the woods for just anyone to find?
    • Perhaps they went back for it off-screen?
      • It actually doesn't appear once on-screen, even after Elinor turns back human, she isn't wearing it in any of the scenes at the end.
      • This was probably intentional to show that Elinor is beginning to loosen up a little and is no longer so obsessed with acting like a prim and proper queen.

     Be Bear-y Stealthy 
  • Why didn't Merida go and get the tapestry by herself? There was no reason for risking her mother's life by bringing her into the castle.
    • She probably didn't want to risk separating herself from her in case someone did by chance go outside. At least if she were with her she could try to stop them.
      • And there was the possibility of Elinor lapsing into acting like a bear again and wandering off as a result.
    • It's also possible that Merida though Elinor could somehow help her fix the tapestry faster, since it was a tapestry she made and they are able to communicate with each other at this point.
    • Merida certainly seemed to think she needed to drape the tapestry over Elinor in order to break the spell. Even once she mended it, she was frantic to get it to Elinor, implying that she thought that at the very least Elinor and the mended tapestry had to be in the same place.

     Red Herring Tapestry 
  • Did fixing the tapestry actually fix Elinor? I couldn't tell whether it was actually something that needed to be done, or just a decoy for Merida to chase after throughout the movie, when she really had to verbally fix the rift between herself and her mother?
    • I think fixing the tapestry was a Red Herring more than anything else. The spell didn't actually break until Merida apologized to Elinor, so the "bond torn by pride" was an emotional rather than literal one.
      • Plotwise it was probably a Red Herring. It also has the additional function of keeping the story PG without breaking suspension of disbelief (by conveniently providing Elinor with something to cover herself with after turning back human).
    • It was probably just a symbolic thing. However, since sunlight didn't wash across the mended tear until after Merida apologized, is there any reason both answers can't be correct? Mending the physical tear was needed, but it wouldn't have worked without the apology?
      • That Merida slashed the tapestry was a deeply disrespectful act towards Elinor both as a person and to Elinor's skills and preoccupations; having the contrition to try to save the tapestry, when Merida probably hates sewing, was an act of repentance in itself... but required the acknowledgement that it was about more than just needlework?

     Burning Bows 
  • I'm confused about the interpretation of the scene where Elinor threw Merida's bow into the fire. I assumed that she did it on purpose in the heat of the moment, and only after that did she really register what she'd done. But I'm seeing a lot of the interpretation that she did it by accident, not knowing where she threw the bow. What do you think?
    • I thought it was done on purpose as well. Doesn't really matter, though, she didn't actually want to destroy Merida's bow, regardless of where she meant to throw it.
    • The bow is thrown in the fire on purpose. Elinor pulls the sword out of Merida's hands and when she is still defiant, she gets angry and pulls the bow off of her shoulder and very deliberately takes it to the fire and tosses it in. When she sees how much she's hurt Merida with her actions, she tries to retrieve it.
      • I thought that Elinor took the bow, and deliberately threw the bow down, but she doesn't realize that it fell into the fire until too late.
      • I'm not sure if it is exactly canon, but one of the tie-in books confirms she did not realize it fell into the fireplace.
      • It seemed to me that she intended to throw it into the fire, but it was only in the heat and anger of the moment seeing as she came to regret it as soon as Merida had left. But she wouldn't have marched over to the fireplace with it unless she intended, however impulsively, to throw it in in the first place.

     Bringing the Triplets 
  • During the climax, why did Merida bring the triplets with her after she got out of the castle? They were all turned into bear cubs at this point, and her father was currently trying to kill Bear!Elinor. What's to stop him from trying to kill a few cubs as well?
    • Well she was in a rush and the boys probably insisted on coming. Waste time making the boys stay, or get moving and save everyone? I'm more confused as to how she was able to still tell them apart while they were bears.
    • It's also possible she thought their presence would sway her father, since their being three bear cubs who all looked alike would lend credence to the bear being Elinor. And when they leaped on Fergus and Merida said who they were, it did seem to take the fight out of him before Mor'du showed up. Also, perhaps she was afraid leaving them behind at the castle would put them in danger from the maids or soldiers. As to how Merida could tell, Rule of Funny.
    • Merida clearly thought she needed to get the mended tapestry in the same place as Elinor in order to break the curse (personally I think she actually thought she needed to drape it over her, but there's no dialogue specifically confirming this - it just matches her actions). Presumably she thought the boys would need to present in order to be restored to human as well, or at least didn't want to risk that they did.
    • Also, she needed someone to hold the lantern. Trying to stich up a tapestry while riding on horseback through a forest sounds hard enough on its own, but imagine having to do so by the light of the night sky or while having to carry a lantern, as well. In addition to the above reasons, the triplets were the only ones still inside the castle who would comply with what Merida wanted without her having to explain much.

     Family Resemblance 
  • Do Merida and Elinor look alike at all? I have a bad eye for these things.
    • They have the same nose, and they share the same cheek bones. That said she does have her fathers hair, skin tone, and their jaw lines are similar.
      • They also have similar body shapes and facial features.

  • The first time we know Elinor has momentarily lost her mind to the bear, she threatens Merida, as you might expect any wild bear to do when a human gets too close. But the other two times it happens, she is pretty peaceable unless attacked, even letting Merida touch. What changed? They spent a whole day together before the first time.
    • The first time, they were outdoors, where a bear is right at home. The second time, however, they were indoors, and Bear!Elinor was probably a little confused as to where she was. As for the third time, the bear was probably tired out after fighting with Mor'du.
    • Also note that the more time they spent together after that, the more the bear's mind would become accustomed to her scent—the first time she loses her mind, Elinor is still new to being a bear so doesn't know how to keep track of scents and such, but by the end of the movie, this would have changed. Note how the bear actually sniffs Merida before letting her embrace her.
    • Elinor's bear-behavior is quite interesting- even in the first incidence she doesn't respond to Merida violently as a bear could, she just gives her a strong warning to back of. Later her behavior is like that of a dog meeting a familiar human (which makes sense as bears are related to dogs). Noticeably in the second, when Fergus gets aggressive she responds primarily by trying to get between him and Merida- she may still be somehow aware that Merida is her own offspring, even if she is 'a bear inside'. (If she were it wouldn't matter if she knew Fergus to be a previous mate, anyway- a female bear would no more tolerate a cub's father approaching it than any other animal.)

     Stealing Sweets 
  • Merida offers a whole year of her desserts to the triplets in return for their help. But we see that she's always sneaking sweets to them anyway (in the dinner scene), so why should it matter? They also sneak and steal plenty of sweets in the daytime.
    • It's a power dynamic between siblings. Sure, they could get sweets on their own. But they could deprive Big Sis of her sweets, which is an attractive possibility.

     Who Can Bear to Live Forever? 
  • If Mor'du wanted to die, why didn't he just jump off a cliff or something?
    • He was trapped in a bear's mind. He didn't have any consciousness.
    • Being a magic bear, he was awfully hard to kill. Look at all the arrows stuck in him. And he'd been a bear for a long, long time. Maybe he couldn't die except under exceptional circumstances (say, in a circle of standing stones, at the hands of another person turned into a bear.

     Bear Obsession 
  • What was the deal with the Witch's obsession with bears. You see it in her wooden bear trinkets and the spells she uses to "change the fates" of Merida and the human prince. What made her think that changing a person's fate meant turning them into bears? Also, why was Elinor turned into a bear but not Merida? I know that the witch told her that giving the cursed treat to her mother would change her fate, but if this was Merida's fate were talking about, wouldn't it be her eating the treat instead? Isn't that how the prince turned himself into a bear, or was his transformation the result of a different set of spells?
    • The cake just turned whoever ate it into a bear. Remember, she specifically asked to change her fate by changing her mom, and boy did her mom change.
    • Merida specifically asked for a spell to change her mother, so she could her own fate would be changed. Clearly she was expected something that would change her mother's mind, but her demand was vague enough that the witch just went with her standard bear spell. It turned Elinor into a bear and not Merida because she asked for her mother to be changed. As for why the witch was obsessed with bears, I don't know, maybe she just really liked bears. And technically, everything still worked out in the end.
    • Likewise, the prince probably wished to change his fate regardless of his brothers. So he was the one who ate the spell, instead of giving it to them.
    • The witch gave Merida and Mor'du their spells to be used as a means of mending their bonds with loved ones that had been severed, or to change their fates like they originally wanted them to. In Mor'du's case, he would've needed to make peace with his three brothers and work to repair the tablet in order to break the spell, but he chose instead to kill them like he'd originally planned, thus changing his fate but destroying his kingdom when everyone ran off. On the flipside, Merida could've just changed her fate and avoided the marriage by letting Elinor succumb to the spell and be killed by Fergus and his men - this would've caused the four clans to descend into war and destroy their lands, but it still would've gotten Merida out of the marriage.

     The Triplets' Grizzly Fate 
  • Why did the treat work on the triplets? Even with the foreshadow I kept thinking (considering how long it took for them to show up and frankly how easily they could have been replaced with...themselves) that the curse must not have worked on them because they didn't have a conflict with Merida but clearly it did. Was the curse entirely tied to Mom cus the conflict between her and the triplets should have solved itself rather quick, hell the one between her and her mom was solved well before the end of the flick unless tears are required.
    • Both Rule of Funny and Rule of Drama. For the first one, because it was funnier to fulfill the audience's expectations (after a long enough time it almost seems a Brick Joke) and turn them into bears too; for the second, because the triplets being bears made it take longer for Merida to get to the stone circle, since they could have gotten the key from Maudie quicker if she hadn't been running in fear from bears. In-story reason? See the above poster, it wasn't that Merida asking to "change her fate" or "change her mom" created the cake, because the witch made one for the prince too—for whatever reason, the witch's magic always creates cakes which turn people into bears to fulfill their wishes. (Want to be as strong as ten men? Bear. Want to not have to marry against your will? Mom's a bear, she can't make that demand any more.) So since the cake isn't tied to Merida or her mother specifically, anyone can eat it and be changed.
      • For what it's worth, I would suspect that the cake would only work on Merida's blood relatives. The witch used a strand of Merida's hair in the spell; in most stories you need a "targeting device" like that to make the spell work.

  • Why does Merida trust the Will-o-wisps? I figure I'm a little kid, I see a ghosty thing and follow it. MY DAD LOSES HIS LEG. Years later I see the same ghosty thing. I don't follow it because last time I got nothing good and my Dad lost his leg. Still lets say I follow it. My mom turns into a bear! The third time I see these things I'm all "my dad lost a leg, my mom got turned into a bear, lets follow these things and see what happens" hell no! But lets say I do. The third time I get attacked by the same bear that ate my dad's leg. Do I really follow these things a fourth time or is it just very fortunate that Merida doesn't learn from her mistakes?
    • The wisps didn't lead Merida to "MY DAD LOSES HIS LEG." The wisps lead Merida out of the forest where the bear was. I.e., if she's at all capable of putting 2 and 2 together (and she is, considering also she had 12 years to reflect on it), she'll realize that if it wasn't for the wisps, she would stayed in the woods longer and gotten killed by the bear.

      You're completely ignoring everything but the worst things of each of those instances. In instance 1, she is, you know, not eaten by the bear. In instance 2, she gets exactly what she asks for. In instance 3, she learns about the legend, which is incredibly valuable to her figuring everything out.
      • She wasn't lost in the forest in the first place though it is possible they saved her life. I still wouldn't associate them with positive memories at that point. If lightning strikes and scares me into running to the barn and the house collapses and takes my father's leg I'm not thinking thunder=good. The second instance she didn't get what she wanted. At best the witch pulled a literal genie on her and punished her for a poorly worded wish at worst she like an above troper mentioned she just has a thing for bears and that's her answer for everything. The third time it did lead her to vital information (and a bear) and the fourth time it leads her exactly where she needed to be but seriously the third time would not have happened to a logical person.
      • Your lightning analogy fails because you're using something that would scare her anyway. What you're saying is, basically, if she was a kid in the modern day, in the middle of the street, followed a puppy she saw to the sidewalk, and therefore wasn't run over (but someone else was injured), she would associate puppies with horrible things and never trust them. You're assuming she's going to make an association she has no reason to make.

        Again: The wisps directly saved her life. She's smart enough to realize that.
    • They didn't lead her to horrible things. They didn't cause Mor'du to take her father's leg, they didn't tell the witch to make her mother a bear, they didn't lure Mor'du to her location at the stones. They merely led her to where she wanted to go. After retrieving her arrow as a child, she wanted to go back home, so they led her home. When she was angry at her mother, she wanted a solution to her problem, and they led her to a solution. When she wanted to find out how to change her mother back, they led her to the ruins of the city in Elinor's story, which told Merida what needed to be done since she didn't understand what the witch said ("Mend the bond torn by pride"). All they did was lead Merida to where she wanted to go, and Merida most likely understood that and followed them every time because she knew they'd lead her to what she wanted the most at that time.
    • It matches the movie's message, at first you're made to think the land (the wisps) are changing her fate when she follows them, but really it's her that changes it.

     Chain of Kilts 
  • Why do the clansmen construct a long chain of kilts to get down from the tower instead of just busting the hatch open? A lot of them seemed pretty strong (especially Fergus and the MacGuffin clan) and if I recall correctly a few of them were carrying axes and maces, so why not just break it open?
    • Rule of Funny.
    • Would you be especially eager to break down your own door (which will likely be expensive and inconvenient to replace,) when the alternative is a few minutes' indignity as you shimmy naked down from the top and go unlock it from the inside?
    • It's Fergus's door, so it was Fergus's call. And he knew Elinor would never let him forget "the time you locked yourself on your own tower and I had to pay a fortune for a replacement trapdoor."

     Some Big Sister 
  • Why doesn't Merida seem nearly as concerned about her brothers as she is about her mother? Presumably, the whole "after the second sunrise it's permanent" thing applies to them too, but she doesn't try to cure them, protect them from the men or even freak out at all when she sees them and realises what has happened.
    • She's smart enough to realise that if she cures her mother, it will also very likely work on her brothers as well. And at this point in the story, all of the men in the various clans have left the castle, so there is no need to protect them as them as much. And finally, you wouldn't be as freaked out if you saw the same "magic trick" twice, would you. She just thought logically "Oh, the boys found the cake and loving sweets, naturally eat it".

     Magical Portions 
  • Does it matter that the triplets ate bigger bits of magical cake than Elinor? There's Fridge Brilliance entry suggesting that the amount of cake eaten influences spell's strength and I agree wholeheartedly that Mor'du probably became a ferocious bear instantly because of keeping the whole portion for himself.
    • Maybe, maybe not. Mor'du had long since passed his ability to turn back and was dead anyway by the morning. Maybe everyone who eats the cake turns back at the same time?
    • They probably didn't eat the whole thing. If Elinor's reaction is anything to go by, the cake wasn't exactly sweet, so I doubt the triplets would have eaten ALL of it. The moment they realized it wasn't sweet, they most likely would have stopped eating it. So their portions may not have been larger than Elinor's.
    • If there's a sequel in a few years, set during Queen Merida's reign and featuring three strapping Scot princes who have the power to turn themselves into bears at will, then yes, it mattered that they ate more. Otherwise, probably not.
    • The witch vaguely hints in the extras that Mor'Du consumed his spell greedily and transformed into a bear on the spot, in the throne room of the castle. The small bite Elinor took only changes how long the spell took to kick in.

     They just had to Sully this movie 
  • Where was the obligatory Monsters' University Early-Bird Cameo in this one?
    • There's a bas-relief of Sully in the Witch's hut.[1]

     So Much for Second Sons 
  • How did an entire day pass without anyone in the castle noticing that the three princes have turned into bears?
    • They ran around and hid, while everyone else in the castle was busy building forts in the main hall and squabbling.
    • Everyone is probably used to them disappearing for a day.
      • The entire castle is clearly littered with secret passages; the scamps can get anywhere they want in a hurry without going through anywhere that people can see them. The only reason I'd get concerned is if someone put out a huge tray of sweets and left it unguarded, and it didn't disappear... and the little scamps could probably manage to steal it anyway, bears or not.

     What if you could change yer fate? 
  • One of the film's taglines was "Change Your Fate." Yet, a good deal of plot advancement was due to Merida following the wisps, which are said to "lead you to your fate." So, ultimately, she didn't change anything, because she was fated to have done this all along? Was the tagline a lie?
    • It would have worked better if, at the end, the wisps were leading her one way, and she decided not to follow them, which leads to her happy ending.
    • She changed a few fates: She got out of an arranged marriage, and with her mother's blessing set in motion that future heirs will have the fate of choosing their mates, and she pretty much had to shove "magic is real" into her father's face for the sake of her mother and the kingdom.
    • the wisps led her only where she wanted to go. It was her own doing that changed her fate every single time.
    • The wisps show you the way, but all the choices are still yours. They took Merida to where she wanted to go, but she still needed to realize the consequences of her actions and restore order and her relationship with her mother.
  • How could the kingdom have an ancient marriage custom specifically involving those four clans when the clans were only united by Fergus?
    • It could have been based on the marriage customs of an older kingdom, like the ancient one Mor'du came from. Many traditions of modern societies come from cultures older than they are.
    • A long-standing tradition of uniting clans through the marriage of their heirs is probably why there are only four clans, not dozens.
    • I thought it was something included in the treaty they'd used to band together.
    • Fridge Brilliance? The "ancient" marriage custom may not have been all that ancient to begin with, which may explain why the adults involved were as amenable as they were to not following through with it the moment they encountered/became aware of the resistance to it among their offspring (which in real life is frequently NOT what happens with truly ancient traditions).
      • That's plausible, but then why call it an ancient marriage tradition?
      • The lords don't seem the type to think such things through. They probably thought it gave the whole affair some gravitas. Or it's an actual ancient tradition that they happen to be familiar with, seeing as the clans probably weren't so divided for their entire histories.
    • Perhaps the four clans have been united before? Then something happened to split them up and Fergus eventually united them again.
  • Lord MacGuffin is not a MacGuffin!
    • No, but Merida, or rather, her "hand" is one for the lads...
    • Originally, he was the one Merida ended up with, the artbooks confirmed it, so that might have been the joke.

     Heirs and Spares 
  • My knowledge of Scottish royal/noble practices is wanting, but I fail to see how Merida loopholing her way out of marriage is cause for war. Would be an advantage for a clan to have their kid tie the knot with her, but it seems to me that the real prize is going to be shacking their daughters up with the triplets when they come of age, seeing as how (presumably) one of those boys is going to be the next king.
    • I have pretty much no knowledge of these traditions and practices myself, but I sort of assumed that the reason Merida's hand is so important is specifically _because_ her brothers are triplets. I believe that Word of God has it that she's the only person who can tell them apart. If for example Hamish was the oldest, the other two could also claim to be him, and they're so identical that there would always be doubt. Not to mention that coming out of the womb with a few minutes head start leading directly to the throne might breed resentment in the younger two sons that would not inherit the Kingship. I figured that the fighting over who rightfully inherited between the three of them would potentially cause so much warfare that Clan Dunbroch decided it was simply easier to have the ruling position go to the oldest child as opposed to the oldest son.
    • There's no mention that any of them have daughters, and even if they did, that's a long time to wait for a tie to the throne when you could have your son married to the princess instead. Also, the queen holds quite a bit of power, it's possible that it's not just the firstborn son that becomes king, it could be the firstborn daughter (they never specify that). But her loophole also involved embarrassing and humiliating the three sons; Merida, a princess, just kicked all of their butts at an archery contest and declared that she wouldn't marry any of them. That's a big blow to all of the clans, and they're already eager to fight, that would easily set them off into a full blown war.
    • A bit of actual Scottish history: this may take place in the period where the kingship of Scotland was not directly hereditary. In early Medieval Scotland a small group of noble families would elect the king from the worthiest candidate of the group (the break with this tradition by a family who started passing it from father to son caused the real-life schism on which Macbeth is based.) It's explicitly said that this is how Fergus became king. That does explain the importance of the four families intermarrying each other- it would keep the number of candidates relatively small, and reinforce their group cohesion, by the next generation all being in-laws and the generation after that all being cousins.

  • Most of the music on the soundtrack I can find throughout the movie. The only song on the soundtrack I can't find anywhere other than the ending credits is Merida's Home. Was this piece of music from a deleted scene or something?

     Changing Clothes is a Free Action 
  • Merida leaves the castle and arrives at the witch's cottage in her ruined Games dress. She arrives back at the castle in the ruined Games dress. She leaves the castle with her mother in the same dress. She arrives at the circle of stones the second time wearing her iconic, not-ruined blue dress and traveling cloak. When did she have time to change?
    • Actually, she left the castle in her iconic blue dress; she's wearing it when she and Elinor bid the triplets farewell in the kitchen (with Merida reassuring Elinor that the triplets would be fine). My guess as to when she found the time to change is that the triplets, after they tricked the adults onto the roof of the castle, bought Merida enough time to change.

     Imperfectly Unarranged Marriage 
  • Aside from this being a kids' film, it's apparent that Merida's decision about her suitors doesn't solve anything at all. This isn't just about tradition, politically marrying one of the clansmen's sons is a sort of appeasement that guarantees them some sort of power. If Merida can choose to marry whomever she wants without establishing some chance for the other clans to get the throne, it basically cements her clan's position of power and leaves the other clans without reason to remain united. Basically, if she still marries anyone else than the presented suitors and has an heir with them, the clans may very well go back to warring with each other again.
    • I agree with this, but imagine the reaction if they had actually stated that Merida's choice of husband was only between three men. It wouldn't have gone down too well with the audience, I wouldn't have thought. I actually got a bit of an implication that was the case - the clan chiefs declaring their sons will compete for her heart shows that she at least has to give them a serious chance, and since Merida is supposed to have changed, and understand her mother's thinking now, she probably will. So you're right, and I think the writers realised this too, they just couldn't present it as the happy ending to a modern audience. Getting to choose between the three suitors (who all seem like pretty nice guys) after getting to know them is better than getting no choice at all, but it probably wouldn't have got a good response.
      • It was my understanding of the scene that Merida still has to pick one of the three, she's just no longer bound by a time limit and won't be won in some challenge. The boys are to win Merida's hand via romance rather than using her as a prize. This way all the clans still have their shot at her, the tradition is continued and Merida is released from the worst parts of the tradition, marrying some boy she didn't know, didn't like and losing her freedom right NOW. It's often glanced over for the other more obvious issues but Merida's big problem was she didn't want to be married right that moment, after it's sprung on her out of nowhere, this way she has time to enjoy her freedom a bit before making a choice, that the choice is now completely hers is icing on the cake. Incidently this also means that if any of the other clan heirs aren't interested in her they have a way out as well that won't disgrace their families.
      • ^ Exactly. Note how, in the end, the suitor who actually won her hand, albeit unintentionally, basically admitted that he didn't want her. (At least not then.) "I didn't pick her out. It was your idea," he tells his dad.

     Ear Chain 
  • Queen Elinor only has two hands, but there are four clan leaders fighting. How are MacIntosh and MacGuffin being dragged when Elinor is only holding her husband and Dingwall by the ears?
    • Look close... Fergus and Dingwall are still holding on to the other two.

     Standard Hero(ine) Reward 
  • Granted that Merida is pretty bright, and thought she had come up with a way to cut the knot with her archery contest idea, why did she not then think to make it less antagonistic to her parents? They know she is a Master Archer, so she could very easily have made the contest "only the one who can beat me at archery is worthy of my hand". That way she gets to set the standard, and it's one she knows they won't be able to match.
    • Firstly, this was a spur-of-the-moment plan. Secondly, "don't upset my mother" was not high on her priority list at that time. And thirdly, the writers were trying to establish that the classic fairy-tale "win my daughter's hand" sort of scene wasn't going to resolve the deeper issues involved.
    • Merida really isn't particularly nice. Sure she's forgiven almost immediately but she gave her mother a cake and she instantly started doubling over in pain. Her first instinct isn't to ask if her mother's okay, her first instict is the push the subject of changing her marriage even while her mother is incredibly likely to be dying before her eyes from poison she got from a witch. I doubt her mother would have allowed her to compete in the archery contest anyway since they know she's a master archer and two of the three suitors are dangerously inept with the weapon leaving only one who is even competent. It would have been a huge slap in the face to the other clans. Clans that it's easy to forget since they all seem to be on relatively good terms, sure they'll break out into a fight at a moments notice but they seem like the kind of guys where punching your friend in the face, and declaring that his father smells of elderberries is not only acceptable, it's encouraged.
    • Merida has to marry one of the three suitors. This is repeatedly hammered by Elinor and all of Merida's efforts to get the marriage cancelled are fixated that tradition. There's no way Elinor would agree to a challenge that can result in Merida not marrying anyone as that's not possible by the rules they are ascribing to. The situation isn't "you must marry the winner of the contest" its "you must marry the son of a chieftain and the contest is how you pick which."
    • Well it would have been a viable complaint if she did put that as the standard...since she could have said "well if he can not beat me in archery how can he hope to protect me and our future children ?"

     The Sword and the Tapestry 
  • Why is there a sword in the tapestry room?
    • There isn't. There's a sword in Merida's room.
      • If there wasn't a sword in the tapestry room, then how did Merida cut the tapestry?
      • You missed my point. It wasn't a "tapestry room." It was Merida's room, which happened to have the tapestry in it.
      • Actually, Elinor was shown working on the tapestry after she'd spoken to Merida in her bedroom about the suitors. I'd assume that the room the tapestry is in is just a generic...room where people keep their stuff and hang out and such. (Probably the same one Merida was in during her dream-memory.) In this case, the sword could've been one of Fergus's many weapons he kept inside.

     Real Women Don't Shoot Arrows 
  • Elinor is protective enough of Merida that she doesn't want her to shoot an arrow while her father (who seems to be proficient in doing so) is right there helping, but she's not protective enough to object to her wandering into the woods alone to retrieve said arrow?
    • Elinor's desire for Merida to not shoot an arrow didn't stem from protectiveness, but from her thinking that it would be inappropriate for a young lady to do so (Elinor later says young ladies should not carry weapons at all, in her opinion, but again her voice is disapproving rather than concerned).
    • It could be she was more concerned about her daughter with a weapon, something she doesn't approve of for many reason. It's not too uncommon for kids who live near the woods, or go camping a lot, to go exploring in them. To them that was probably like letting your kid go in the backyard, she was close enough to hear if she got hurt and there's never been any real danger. Plus this was before the discovery of the dangerous Mor'du.
    • It's also a perfect opportunity to shout at Fergus without Merida in their presence. Notice how she rounds on Fergus the instant Merida is out of earshot.

     Threat of War 
  • One thing that comes to mind about Merida's supposed selfishness in "shooting for her own hand" and otherwise resisting Elinor's efforts at wedding her off; does she have any idea why her marriage to one of the three clan heirs is of such import? Her reaction to "The kingdom will be torn asunder by war" could well be quite different than her response to Yet Another Variation Of "Mum wants me to be less of a tomboy."
    • She does. During the "roleplay" scene, Merida says to herself that she expects declarations of war, albeit in a light and joking manner.
      • The 'light and joking' part is what makes me doubt she thinks it is a real possibility.
      • The interactions we see between the the clans (probably because it's a Disney Cartoon) doesn't feel like a war is on the edge of breaking out if this doesn't work out. They come across a lot more like sports rivals than bitter enemies held together under a shaky alliance. Even when the fighting broke out it seemed a lot more like classic boys will be boys (mind you with swords and axes) than people honestly trying to kill each other. Certainly enough that when the Queen basically marched in like Mom everybody dropped what they were doing immediately. It's easy to think Merida didn't think of it as a legit concern, the movie doesn't really make it look like a legit concern.
      • To me, Merida never came off as joking or goofing off - it was just sort of her imitating the clans' reaction. And of course, if the queen is a bear who can't break up the fighting, no matter how slapstick-y the movie portrays it as, then that's still a problem, isn't it? Adding to this is the idea that the clans have spent many long years building up not just alliances, but true friendships - descending into war and shattering these bonds just because a princess isn't willing to marry herself off to someone would be a truly tragic loss, which, as the ending shows, could have been avoided if Merida and her mother were to listen to each other and learn to compromise.
      • Also, rewatching that scene, Merida starts by pretending to talk to and for her mother in a serious tone, but when she gets to the part about declaring war, you can see that her voice dies down and sounds more desperate at the end. This indicates that she knew her mother couldn't just call off the betrothal without consequence and that war was a possibility, unless she found a way to bend the rules and get herself out of the arrangement "legally".

     Bear Your Heart 
  • Has the witch ever gotten a request that couldn't be fulfilled by turning someone or other into a bear? "I want to have the strength of ten men" is pretty straightforward (if a bit Jerkass Genie-ish). Merida's request is way more of a stretch. What if she got something like "I want to soar like the eagles!" "One winged bear, coming right up!" "I want to be as powerful as Sephiroth!" "One-winged bear, coming right up!"
    • Perhaps the strain of her magic was more than she could bear.
    • No doubt, back when she was a witch and not a harmless woodcarver she solved all sorts of problems with many different spells: Summon Bear, Control Bear, Shrink Bear, Dismiss Bear, Summon Bigger Bear, the whole gamut of all possible conceivable magic.
    • If you subscribe to Jon Negroni's Pixar Theory, then the witch could have a subconscious desire to see her friend Sully, considering that she's Boo from Monsters, Inc. This desire could be causing her to create bears (or ursine monstrosities) every time she tries to cast a spell.

     No bond to mend 
  • For the sake of comparison as well as Merida's realization about the tapestry, it seems pretty lucky that both she and Mor'du happened to have something symbolic of their bond with a family member(s) that had been severed. But what would happen if the witch happened to transform someone who didn't have something like that?
    • The results would be un-bear-able.
    • Presumably someone who doesn't have some kind of severe break in his familial relationships wouldn't have a problem they want to solve by either becoming a bear or changing someone else into a bear.
    • Well, neither Merida nor Mor'du specifically asked for a bear spell. Merida just wanted to "change her mother"['s mind about the marriage], and Mor'du asked for "the strength of ten men." It stands to reason that someone could still come seeking a spell from the witch, without a break in their family being the cause of that neediness.

     The firstborn of each clan 
  • Even without Merida stepping up to shoot for her own hand in the games, shouldn't Fergus and Elinor have specified that only the clans' firstborn sons could compete? Sure, it does kind of go without saying, but what if the firstborn was a girl instead of a boy?
    • McGuffin specifically introduces his kid as "my eldest son." So, whether specified or not, they probably would have only brought their oldest boys anyway.
    • It does go without saying, if the firstborn was a girl instead of a boy they'd present their first born son. It's a contest to marry the girl, and it's medieval Scotland. Putting the first born son forward is the only option in those circumstances.

     Bloodless carnage 
  • Not that I'm saying Fergus should've jumped to the conclusion that Merida was right about her mother being the bear, but what did he think about her torn clothes not having a drop of blood on them? How could a bear rip someone's clothing off of them without leaving any cuts in the skin beneath it to shed any blood?
    • He's a guy who found his wife's empty clothes in a room with an apparently bloodthirsty bear, not a forensic investigator. He wasn't thinking of anything at all except, "My wife must've been killed by this bear." Why are you expecting calm and rational thought from anyone at that stage, particularly this guy?
    • Well, he didn't find the bear and her clothes in the same room. He finds her clothes in the bedroom, then goes down the hall looking for her into the tapestry room, and finds Merida trying to hide the bear from him.
    • Which is still more than enough for the guy whose whole thing is killing bears to jump to the conclusion.

     Mor'du's focus 
  • Why does Mor'du seem so hell-bent on killing Merida throughout this entire film? He goes after her at her birthday party, and then when he sees her in the throne room, and finally during the final battle, even though in that situation there are a great number of other, more acceptable targets, among them the Bear King himself, whose leg Mor'du had already chomped off in a fierce battle years before. But even after Elinor gives him a nice thrashing in an impressive bear-on-bear fight, he still swipes her aside and goes right after Merida again. Is it possible he just sees some reflection of himself in her and thus is trying to kill her out of self-hatred?
    • I think he thinks he's already hurt Fergus, and Elinor is a bear, so he thinks they're in the same boat?

     Strengthening the bond 
  • How is Merida's marriage into one of the other clan's supposed to renew and strengthen all of their bonds between each other? I can understand the one she marries into, obviously, but especially given how they act in the film, how would the marriage strengthen the king's relationships with the two clans who hadn't won?
    • That is the thing about dynasties, there is always the next generation to play for. Just because you weren't a winner this time, doesn't mean your kids can't have another go in 16-20 year's time. Plus it is a big festival and they all get to show off and do some networking, talk about future plans, and everyone goes away slightly hungover but with some good tales of how they all got together and had fun. The hand in marriage might be the big prize, but there are lots of fringe benefits to a big festival too.

     Elinor and the triplets 
  • Speaking hypothetically, if the spell hadn't been broken in time and Elinor and the triplets both became bears permanently, would she eventually be able to come to recognize them as her children/cubs and care for them like a bear normally would, or just leave them on their own and essentially abandon them? And likewise, would Harris, Hubert, and Hamish see her as their mother, or no?
    • I would think yes for the triplets. There's a reason it's called Mama Bear, after all. As for why she began to attack Merida and didn't recognize her as one of her own, Merida is more obviously human (and therefore Obviously Not!Bear). Perhaps the witch's magic makes Elinor see her as a more overt threat. Who knows, maybe if that had happened, Elinor could have re-learned who Merida was through scent memory?

     Why are the princes still sapient? 
  • With more on the triplets...Assuming they ate the bear-cake on the same night that Elinor did, why didn't they devolve to a bear-like mentality like she had during the second sunrise? We see them while Merida is apologizing, and the whites of their eyes are still visible and they clearly show awareness of what's going on.
    • Maybe due to the fact that they are young. Since they haven't matured yet, they still act like cubs, whether bear or human. I would think most bear cubs their size just go rummaging around for food, tag along with mom, and romp around with their siblings, as we saw them do in the film.

     Mis-aimed marketing 
  • The marketing for this film frequently implied that Merida would accomplish something that ended up "changing her fate", and I got the feeling this would be in some mysterious, mystical way...But in the final film, all she does, really, is feed an enchanted bear-cake to her mother, which doesn't in and of itself have any very mystical impact on the plot - it only serves to cause the kinds of conflicts and misunderstandings one would expect from such a development. So why all the advertisements that implied Merida would embark on some epic adventure to alter her fate in a way she truly hadn't expected and such? This type of marketing gimmick could just as easily be applied to any other Disney film - Aladdin is a street rat who finds a magic lamp and changes his fate, becoming the Sultan's heir. Ariel is a mermaid who wants to be human, and she changes her fate by meeting a sea witch who grants her this wish. Merida wants to be free and not be married off to someone, and so feeds her mother a cake that turns her into a bear, and ends up changing her fate by learning to compromise with her and getting out of the marriage until she feels ready for it. Yes, she still "changed her fate" in a way she hadn't expected to, but it's still not much different from a lot of other Disney films, so why is there so much focus on the "Fate" thing?

     What's so Brave about it? 
  • I am having a lot of trouble understanding why this movie is called Brave. I don't recall anyone, Merida or Elinor especially, being particularly cowardly about anything and thus needing to be brave. There was no fear in either deviating from tradition or following it. It wasn't like it was ever said that breaking tradition would bring a curse or anything. The bravery that is shown is against Mor'du, who ultimately isn't all that important because the story is about Merida and Elinor's relationship, not Mor'du.
    • ...She's a young teenager. Who makes poor decisions, but ultimately accepts responsibility and saves her mother's life through the power of character development.
    • Merida was very brave in working so hard both to change her fate and to try and fix it when things went wrong - things like striking a deal with a witch, offering herself willingly to any of the three potential suitors, or riding out into the forest at night to take a stand against her father's men... And before you say that a lot of these were due to her own actions, it takes a lot of courage to own up to your mistakes and take responsibility for doing what it takes to correct them.

     Pixar Theory 
  • To all those who subscribe to the Pixar Theory, where do you get the idea that Boo actually grew up to become the witch from Brave? Just because she had a Sully cameo in her house? And is obsessed with bears? Any other reason? Because in Monsters Inc., Boo thought Sully was a cat - that's why she called him "Kitty" - so wouldn't it make more sense for her to be obsessed with cats rather than obsessed with bears?
    • And Monsters Inc is not in the ancient times.
      • The theory goes that Boo used the black magic she became involved with to try to travel into the future (which is also where Monsters Inc. is set, according to the theory), but instead wound up in the time that Brave was set. Which is even more illogical considering the only spell she seems to know in Brave is one that turns people into bears.
    • That's a good question, since the theory could work perfectly without it.

     Involving Fergus 
  • Why couldn't Merida have tried pulling Fergus aside and telling him in private about what she'd done to Elinor? Elinor didn't start to go wild until the afternoon of her second day as a bear, so there was plenty of time for Merida to explain the situation to him before showing him proof of her sapience.
    • She's letting her shame and desperation overwhelm her thinking. Her father's the one who simply accepts her for herself. She's worried that she will lose his trust and strain his affection if he learns what she's done... unless she can fix it before he finds out.

     The triplets 
  • How is Merida able to tell her brothers apart so easily? I can understand it a bit better while they were humans, but she's known they've become completely identical-looking bear cubs for what amounts to five minutes, yet she's able to refer to each of them by name, while riding on horseback, in the dead of night, trying to mend a tapestry, while tracking her father and his men.
    • People who learn how to tell twins (or triplets) apart usually focus less on physical differences (like hair style or clothing color) and more on behavioral quirks. She knows which one is which because she knows the way they move and act. The way they look is almost irrelevant.
    • For that matter, why did Fergus and Elinor let the triplets remain so difficult to tell apart? Presumably whichever one of the trio was born first is expected to be heir to the clan leadership someday, so you'd think they'd have slapped a bracelet or something on that one as soon as they realized their baby sons were identical, not fraternal.
    • Isn't Merida the one who will lead the clans someday, alongside whichever chief's son she chooses to marry?

  • I am fully able to admit that Merida tends to be on the receiving end of a bit more hatred than is really justified, but one thing I have to question is the words she uses when trying to purchase a spell from the witch: "I want a spell to change my mum." This didn't really seem like a misstep on her part as much as a case of really bad writing that allowed the witch to fulfill the wish in her own ursine way. Why didn't Merida specify what she wanted, like "I want a spell to change my mum's mind about the marriage" or "I wish my mum would forget all about the marriage" or something? Both of those could've similarly been solved by her turning into a bear, since the spell literally did "change her mind" by making it more wild and feral, thereby making her forget all about the marriage, and it wouldn't have come off so contrived the way Merida said it.
    • If she was good at expressing herself then the whole conflict could have been skipped.
    • That's a different kind of communication problem. She didn't want to talk to her mother because she was stubborn and didn't think Elinor would listen. Her request for the witch was her just being vague and unspecific.
    • "Change my mum" may have been Merida's attempt to encompass more than just altering Elinor's plans for the marriage. Presumably the two of them have been butting heads for quite a while over Merida's tomboyish ways, so her desire to see her mother "change" is as much a generalized "change her so she'll stop trying to micromanage my life" wish as a "stop trying to force me into marriage" one.

     White Knights 
  • When Elinor is telling Merida the story of Mor'du the human prince's betrayal of his family, she demonstrates by taking out a chessboard, balancing it on the knights, and then pulling one out to send the pieces tumbling. She uses three white knights and one black knight (for Mor'du) - but there are only two knights of each colour on a standard chessboard. Where did the third white knight come from?
    • We can tell from Merida's reaction that she's heard the story before, maybe even more than once - Elinor probably borrowed the third knight from another set in order to tell it and never got around to returning it.