Brave: Family, Folklore, and Magic
Since ancient times, stories of epic battles and mystical legends have been passed through the generations across the rugged and mysterious Highlands of Scotland. From Disney and Pixar, a new tale joins the lore when the courageous Merida confronts tradition and challenges destiny to change her fate.
“Brave” follows the heroic journey of Merida, a skilled archer and headstrong daughter of King Fergus and Queen Elinor. By the time Merida reaches her teenage years, she’s scaling cliffs, sword fighting, and shooting arrows. But galloping through the rugged Highlands with her bow in tow isn’t Merida’s destiny. At least, not according to her mother Queen Elinor, who has her own plan in mind for Merida—a plan that’s been predestined since long before either of them was born. It’s time to grow up, whether Merida likes it or not.
Unfortunately for Merida, those goals include royal responsibility and a marriage designed to uphold the tenuous truce among the kingdom’s unruly clans. Elinor has spent years preparing Merida for this moment and she doesn’t understand her daughter’s resistance. Meanwhile, Merida can’t bear to be controlled by anyone,
least of all her mother.
Determined to carve her own path in life, Merida defies an age-old custom sacred to the unruly and uproarious lords of the land: massive Lord MacGuffin, surly Lord Macintosh and cantankerous Lord Dingwall. Merida’s actions inadvertently unleash chaos and fury in the kingdom, and when she turns to an eccentric Witch for help, she is granted an ill-fated wish. The ensuing peril forces Merida to harness all of her skills and resources—including her clever and mischievous triplet brothers—to undo a beastly curse before it’s too late, and discover the meaning of true bravery.
Directed by Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman with co-director Steve Purcell, and produced by Katherine Sarafian, “Brave” is a grand adventure full of heart, memorable characters and signature Pixar humor that audiences of all ages have come to expect. Based on an original story by Chapman, “Brave” was written by Andrews, Purcell, Chapman and Irene Mecchi.
From a trio of wee mischievous brothers to an elegant—if somewhat uptight—queen, not to mention its lot of quirky lords, “Brave” features a cast of wildly diverse characters and a host of talented pros who lend them their voices. Infusing drama, authenticity and spirit in “Brave” is a phenomenal vocal ensemble comprised largely of actors with Scottish roots. Kelly Macdonald (“Boardwalk Empire,” “No Country for Old Men,” “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows—Part 2”) brings heart to the tempestuous teenager Merida. Acclaimed Oscar-winning actress Emma Thompson (“Howards End,” “Sense and Sensibility”) gives a transformative performance as the regal and proper Queen Elinor. Renowned Scottish comedian/actor Billy Connolly voices King Fergus, the jovial patriarch of the kingdom and a heroic warrior who longs for a rematch with the demon bear Mor’du that took his leg. Voicing the strapping Lord MacGuffin and his son, Young MacGuffin, is Scottish actor Kevin McKidd (“Trainspotting,” “Grey’s Anatomy”). Popular late-night talk-show host/actor Craig Ferguson (“The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson,” “Winnie the Pooh”), also a Scottish native, voices the boisterous, battle-ready Lord Macintosh. Glasgow native Robbie Coltrane (“Harry Potter” films) adds plenty of pluck to scrappy Lord Dingwall, and acclaimed British actress Julie Walters (“Educating Rita,” “Billy Elliott,” seven “Harry Potter” films) conjures up some vocal magic as the mysterious Witch.
“Brave” establishes numerous firsts for a Pixar film. It is the studio’s first film to feature a female protagonist, its first period piece in which historical references intersect with a fantasy world, and its first epic adventure set in a natural human world. Andrews and Chapman join the elite roster of Pixar directors—only five people before them have directed a Disney-Pixar feature.
Andrews, who brings a life-long passion for Scotland, Scottish history and action-adventure films to his role, served as story supervisor on “The Incredibles” and “Ratatouille.” In bringing “Brave” to the big screen, Chapman, a long established storyteller with credits including “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Lion King,” was inspired by her own relationship with her young daughter, as well as a love of Scotland. Drawing from the experiences of their own families, combining that with their Scottish heritage and love of the country. With their strong backgrounds in storytelling and filmmaking, they were able to weave a tale that was original, emotionally stirring and full of thrilling adventure.
The team behind “Brave” traveled across the pond to scout the best locales where their epic action-adventure would unfold. Their initial research trip occurred during the late summer of 2006; they returned to Scotland in October of 2007. In creating the story for “Brave,” the filmmakers took elements of Scottish history and lore to construct their own legends. A demon bear named Mor’du, the gathering and unity of the clans, the role of the mystical will o’ the wisps and a mysterious witch with the power to create change are all rooted in reality and mythology. The filmmakers infused the folklore and magic they soaked up in Scotland throughout the story. According to Andrews, “The will o’ the wisps are in a lot of Scottish folklore. They were said to lead you to treasure or doom—to change your fate—but they’re an actual phenomenon of swamp and bog gas seeping up through the earth and interacting with the natural resources to create the blue flames. People would follow these lights thinking they were little fairies, and basically drown or get sucked down into the bogs. [So] we made the wisps like actual little spirits.”
To prepare for the film, the animation team engaged in sword fighting, took archery lessons, wore kilts, rode horses, visited the zoo, heard lectures from an expert on Scottish accents, studied iconic and contemporary films set in Scotland, and watched nature documentaries about bears and horses. Andrews himself gave biweekly lessons in swordplay. The daily animation reviews would often end with an invitation to pick up a sword and act out a particular shot move-for-move.
The film takes aim at theaters on June 22, 2012, and will be presented in Disney Digital 3D in select theaters. “Brave” is rated PG by the MPAA.
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