Whence this trend, I know not: but in the 2000s, it seems to me, there has been a growing tendency on the part of the Entertainment Industry to produce works so vitally “Pagan” (in the modern Neo-Pagan sense) as to be extremely worthy of comment. Personally, I measure this trend from 2001′s Mists of Avalon, which seems to me to be the first movie to self-consciously reflect “Pagans” in a way to which we Pagans can relate, in terms of our own Pagan Culture. I have heard (I don’t know from how many Pagans) that 2006′s Pan’s Labyrinth is one of the most “Pagan” movies that they have ever seen (I have, for some reason, never actually seen Pan’s Labyrinth; don’t ask me why, I just never have). Two summers ago, all of Paganism was a-gaga over Agora, agreed by all to be the first “Pagan-based” film to resonate with Pagans on a deeply Pagan level. To that slim, but significant, library, I wish to add Disney Pixar’s just-released computer-animated Brave.
I caught this show this afternoon, in a matinee with a very large number of very small children in the audience; I was pleased to note that the laugh-out loud ratio between the more junior members of the crowd and myself was roughly equal: although I noticed that the pint-sized audience-members tended to enjoy the cartoon slap-stick more, whereas I found that I tended to respond to the frequent verbal and visual humor. But my point is, there is a even amount of expertise here to be appreciated by both kids and adults, making it an ideal family-movie. For Pagan families, Brave carries an extra layer of enjoyment and meaning, for being so exceptionally “Pagan” (in a very Scots/ Celtic sense) all over the place.
An audience encountering this movie will find a very Celtic/ Pagan sense of the Natural Woodlands as Sacred and Transcendent, as well as a place for the Testings and Challenges for which we know that we experience this “Incarnation” of Life. Prehistoric Henges and Stone Circles will play an important Symbolic role (a non-Pagan audience will find the idea of a Sacred Circle as being a Place of Magick, as well as a Pagan). A theme of the movie is Fate and Destiny, and finding the strength to forge one’s Destiny, and challenge one’s Fate.
Lovely CGI-Will o’the Wisps lead the heroine to her Fate (a Fate that reinforces that Dire Warning that we Pagans tell one another: be careful of that for which you wish Magickally), a Fate that lies within a Witch’s spell. As is so often the case in Faerey-Tale, the instigator of change is a Witch- but (refreshingly) not a Wicked or Corrupt Witch, but one that falls into that accessible and enjoyable category: the Comic Witch.
Brave’s Witch is a hilarious creation, impressive enough with the CGI-Magickal effects as to be awesome, and well-intentioned enough as to be appreciated (in many ways, she reminds me of a vendor from any number of Pagan festivals; indeed, she has a joke at the end about being off to the “Wicker Man Festival”). In the harmlessness of her humor, she is a very, very approachable Witch, and in the delightfulness of her Magick, she makes one yearn to be a Witch (or appreciate the more, being one).
Metaphorically, the film is about the inevitable struggle between parents and adolescents (parents taking your small children: remember this film with poignancy when your charming small child grows into a resentful teen-ager): but its message of the forgiveness that comes only from family is very sweet.
One will find Pict-ish Painted Celtic Scotsmen in this film (plus a certain send-up of the feisty Scots temperament); as well as enchanted barrow-houses, brewing cauldrons, and raven-familiars; the afore-mentioned Stone Circles and Monuments; and a sense of Nature as a Divine Spiritual Guide, in an extremely well-done movie (props to all involved, from the tireless animators to the wonderful Celtic balladeers, to the marvelous vocal actors), that reinforces a very sweet Family-Theme: expressed in the most Pagan tones that you can imagine. Pagan families: this is THE movie for you (although it is so cleverly done, single adults can enjoy it as well); its message is both, Believe in Magick, because It is Real, as well as, Legends are Lessons: they carry the Ring of Truth. Unless I see something amazingly spectacular between now and December, this is my pick for “Best Pagan Movie of 2012.”