Brave: A Closer Look at the Heart

Posted: July 3, 2012 by jperritt in Action, Animation, Comedy, Drama, Family
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

So last week I was able to watch Brave. I went to Reformed Youth Movement with several of our youth, and on our day out we went to the local theater and checked it out. I have to say, I was a bit disappointed. I had very high expectations because of Pixar’s resume, so that played a factor in the disappointment.

This is not to say that it was a terrible film. I did like it and there were excellent things about the film – the music and visual landscape made up those excellent aspects. But, Brave won’t go down as one of my favorite Pixar films. It did however have, at least, one biblical parallel I wanted to highlight.

[Major spoilers – the ending is discussed]

As the previews depict, Merida is a very rebellious little girl, however, Elinor is a very dominant mother. Some might even say that Elinor is a little over-the-top. She is constantly critiquing Merida, causing a rift in the relationship. This rift reaches it’s peak when the two are having a ‘discussion’ on who she will marry and what that will look like.

As the tempers between the two are flaring (it’s important to note that Merida has a sword in her hand) Merida swings the sword into a tapestry her mother made when Merida was a child. This tapestry depicted Merida, Elinor and King Fergus holding hands, and it just so happens that Merida slices the tapestry separating her from her mother.

After Elinor has been turned into a bear (not getting into that, just go see the film) a witch tells Merida what must be done to reverse the spell. She says something about ‘Mending the tear’, I can’t remember the exact words but you get the gist. This leads Merida to assume that she must physically fix this tear in the tapestry, this also must be done before the second sunrise.

At the end of the film, as Merida is riding on a horse mending the tapestry, the sun begins to rise. Merida repairs the tear right as the sun is rising and…nothing happens. Elinor remains a bear. The sun continues to come up, and Merida begins to cry. She says, ‘I’m sorry mother. It’s my fault. Forgive me.’ At this moment, Elinor changes back to her normal, human self. The tear had been mended.

You see, the witch did not mean that the physical tear on the tapestry needed mending. She knew a heart-change needed to occur. All the thread in Scotland couldn’t repair the severing of a relationship between a mother and daughter.

Isn’t this true in the Christian life? We so often want to do something to earn God’s favor, or seek forgiveness from him or a fellow brother or sister. But, we ultimately can’t do anything. The forgiveness we receive and grant was purchased by Another. Yes we can grant and practice forgiveness, but it’s ultimately something we cannot go out and do – just as Merida couldn’t physically repair the tapestry. And even when we do practice forgiveness, we often merely display empty actions. Actions that are simply done. Done without faith.
We know God sees the heart of every human being on the face of the earth. And, as J.C. Ryle says, ‘Christianity is a religion of the heart.’ This reminds us that all the actions we can muster are not enough if we aren’t impacted on a heart level. That’s why Merida’s repentance and sorrow resonated with me. She was broken, she was sorry, she displayed a contrite heart that was similar to that of king David:

You do not want a sacrifice, or I would give it; You are not pleased with a burnt offering. (actions) The sacrifice pleasing to God is a broken spirit. God, you will not despise a broken and humbled heart. [Psalm 51:16 & 17]

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