Disney-Pixar's "Brave" hits theaters Friday, and The Christian Post spoke with Katherine Sarafian, the film's lead producer, about faith, the path of finding out who one really is, and her decision to do away with princes.
"Faith can't not play a role in your life. I looked a lot at my father, a priest in the Armenian church, who was not great at managing people. He was a heart-based leader, while my mom was a businesswoman. I thought I was more like my mom, more of the business-style leader," Sarafian explained.
"Working on 'Brave' was incredibly hard, but it was interesting to discover how much more of my father I am than my mother. It's the compassionate leaders I try to emulate; I don't always get it right, but I looked to my dad for that when he was here. Now that he's gone, it's more of 'What would dad do?' How would he treat this problem?" she continued.
"Brave" tells the story of a young woman named Merida, who defies the traditions of her country and sets out to make her own way, causing problems and mayhem along the way. One thing that differentiates "Brave" from the traditional Disney story is that there are few princes, and none play a central role in the story.
The story of the young princess is akin to Sarafian's own, as she learned who she truly was while working on the project.
"Merida is her mother and father. She doesn't mind being a princess, but she wants to be her own style of princess. Merida thinks that she is more like her father but comes to understand that she has the best of both parents," the producer said.
"I'm excited about not involving princes or male figures," Sarafian said. "Pixar does its own thing, wanted its own hero. It's a love story, but love of family, not love of a prince. Merida has to solve her own problems; she drives the story forward … the plot is not driven by circumstances, magic, or anything else."
Merida's story is actually based on the experience of one writer, whose 6-year-old daughter was fiercely independent. Her mother wondered what she would be like as a teenager, if she was already this rebellious. Hence, Merida's story was born, and in 2006, work officially began on the project.
The idea of being true to who you are is incredibly important to Sarafian and is one of the themes she hopes viewers will come away with, no matter the age. It is, however, especially crucial to the well-being of teenagers having a hard time fitting in.
"When you can reconcile who you are with what's expected of you and learn to trust the love of your family … that's brave. When you realize, 'I'm still me and I can still love my family and be a member of my community, just maybe not in the way that people would expect' … That's brave."
Disney-Pixar's "Brave" is in theaters Friday, June 22.