Brave’s Merida

Mekado Murphy writes about the fashioning of a new fairy-tale heroine. Don’t miss the slide show that accompanies the  article: I’m fascinated by all the fuss about Merida’s hair.…

“Brave,” set in medieval Scotland, is also the closest that Pixar has come to making a fairy tale. This one involves the headstrong princess Merida, above, who is more interested in archery and independence than in marrying and fulfilling royal traditions as dictated by her mother, Queen Elinor. The character and story were first developed by Brenda Chapman, the film’s initial director. She spoke by phone about what interested her in having Pixar’s first female-driven narrative be about a princess.

“Fairy tales have gotten kind of a bad reputation, especially among women,” she said. “So what I was trying to do was just turn everything on its head. Merida is not upset about being a princess or being a girl. She knows what her role is. She just wants to do it her way, and not her mother’s way.”

Ms. Chapman had ideas about how the character should look. “I wanted a real girl,” she said, “not one that very few could live up to with tiny, skinny arms, waist and legs. I wanted an athletic girl. I wanted a wildness about her, so that’s where the hair came in, to underscore that free spirit. But mainly I wanted to give girls something to look at and not feel inadequate.”