Brave is Pixar's thirteenth animated feature film. The film is written by Brenda Chapman and directed by both Chapman and Mark Andrew. It is produced by Katherine Sarafian. The score is composed by Patrick Doyle. The film was released in theatres and 3D on June 22, 2012.
Brave is set in ancient times in the Scottish kingdom of DunBroch and focuses on a princess named Merida, the daughter of King Fergus and Queen Elinor. When Elinor tells Merida that she must marry a prince, Merida visits a Witch who gives her a spell that will change Elinor's mind. However, she ends up getting more than she bargained for.
The storyline begins in the Scottish kingdom of DunBroch, with King Fergus presenting his young daughter, Merida, with a bow and arrow for her birthday, to the discomfort of Merida's mother, Queen Elinor. During their outing, a giant bear named Mor'du attacks the family. Fergus fights off the bear to give Elinor and Merida a chance to escape, at the cost of his left leg.
Years later, Elinor, who has since given birth to identical triplet boys, attempts to teach Merida in the ways of the court. The princess, however, is determined to practice her archery and explore the kingdom on her horse, Angus, in what her mother calls an unladylike fashion.
Soon, the lords Macintosh, MacGuffin, and Dingwall arrive to compete for the Highlands Games and present their first-born sons in a competition for Merida's hand. Merida chooses archery as the challenge to determine her betrothed. Lord Dingwall's son wins by accident, but Merida enters herself as first-born of DunBroch and shoots the targets over Elinor's objections. The two have a falling out, resulting in Merida's tearing Elinor's handmade tapestry depicting the family, and Elinor in turn throwing Merida's bow into a fireplace.
Fleeing to the forest in tears, Merida encounters a trail of Will O' the Wisps that lead her to an elderly witch's hut. Merida bargains with the witch for a spell that will change Elinor, thus changing Merida's fate. The witch conjures a cake for Merida, who returns to the castle and presents it to her mother. Elinor eats the cake and soon afterward, transforms into a bear. Merida and Elinor sneak out of the castle past Fergus and the visiting clans with the aid of the triplets and return to the witch's cottage, where they find the witch long gone because she is "out of stock", but a message left for Merida: the spell will be permanent unless undone by the second sunrise. The witch leaves Merida a riddle, mentioning that a pride-torn bond must be repaired. Growing frantic, Merida tosses in the other message potions, which overloads the cauldron. Elinor shields her daughter as the explosion destroys the cottage. As it starts to rain, mother and daughter decide to stay the night in what's left of the cottage.
The next morning, Merida teaches Elinor how to catch fish from the river, and the two begin to reconcile. However, for a brief period Elinor starts to act like a wild bear, nearly mauling Merida. They are led by more wisps to the ruins of an old castle. In the throne room, Merida finds a damaged stone engraving, depicting three brothers; the fourth brother had been cut off from the other three, just like how Merida had cut her mother off from the tapestry. Merida realizes that the curse had happened before, and that the man was transformed into the raging bear Mor'du, and Elinor will lose all traces of her humanity just the same if they did not break the spell in time. Just then, she is attacked by the demon bear and barely escapes. They travel back to the castle to sew the family tapestry back together. They find Fergus and the lords on the verge of war because of Merida's actions. Merida brings the four factions back together and declares that one should choose who he marry according to his heart. Her suitors agree, stating that their arranged marriage was their fathers' idea. Thus, the clan leader agree that their sons must win Merida's heart before winning her hand. Fergus briefly returns to his bedroom to find Elinor and when he finds Elinor's ripped clothes and smashed bed, mistaking his wife for dead, he bursts into the tapestry room, where he finds Merida and Elinor the bear. Elinor, once again reverting to a true bear, attacks Fergus, and after regaining her human mind and realizing she has harmed both Merida and Fergus, Elinor flees.
Merida tries to convince her father that the bear is Elinor, but Fergus, having once been declared by Elinor to "not believe in magic," locks her in the room and sets off with the lords to capture and kill the bear. Merida is freed with the help of her three brothers, who have turned into cubs after finding and eating what was left of the witch's cake, and the four follow the wisps to where Fergus has captured Elinor. Merida defends Elinor by confronting Fergus, but Mor'du attacks the party. When he lunges for Merida, Elinor intervenes and battles Mor'du. Elinor bashes Mor'du against a weakened stone pillar, which just in time collapses onto and kills him. The group sees a wisp emerge from Mor'du's body, which reveals the human form of the fourth brother, whose spirit is now freed from the curse. He then flies away to join the other wisps. Merida puts the repaired tapestry on top of her wounded mother. The sun starts to rise, and the spell on Elinor begins to become permanent, and Merida tries to get her mother back, but it doesn't work, and Merida weeps. In the process, she finally mends her bond with Queen Elinor, and Elinor and her sons are turned back into humans, albeit naked. A few days later, the clans depart for their respective lands and Merida and Elinor ride their horses together, sharing a closer relationship than before. The triplets stow away on one of the departing boats, forcing their father to chase after them in a rowboat.
In a post-credits scene, one of the guards in front of the castle is awakened by the witch's pet crow asking him to sign for an extremely large collection of wooden bear-themed sculptures, which Merida bought from the witch earlier in the film.
- Kelly Macdonald as Princess Merida
- Billy Connolly as King Fergus
- Emma Thompson as Queen Elinor
- Julie Walters as Witch
- Kevin McKidd as Lord MacGuffin and Young MacGuffin
- Craig Ferguson as Lord Macintosh
- Robbie Coltrane as Lord Dingwall
- Steven Cree as Young Macintosh
- Callum O'Neill as Wee Dingwall
- Peigi Barker as Young Merida
- Sally Kinghorn and Eilidh Fraser as Maudie
- Steve Purcell as The Crow
- John Ratzenberger as Gordon
- Patrick Doyle as Martin
Non-speaking characters include: Mor'du, Angus, and the Triplets, Harris, Hubert and Hamish
Brave was first announced under the title of The Bear and the Bow. Other titles that had been considered include, among others The Bear King and his Daughter, Brave and the Bow and Bravehair.
The film, Pixar's first fairy tale, is a combination of Brenda Chapman's love of Hans Christian Andersen and the Brothers Grimm, as well as a reflection on raising her daughter.
The film departs from the traditional fairy tale storyline, neglecting the romance that has been associated with these stories. It focuses on the relationship between Merida and her mother Queen Elinor, which was inspired to Chapman by her own relation with her daughter.
Chapman was supposed to be the film's sole director - and Pixar’s first female director. But on October 2010, it was reported that Pixar had replaced Chapman with Mark Andrews. Although Andrews was in charge of guiding Brave across the finish line, both Andrews and Chapman are credited as the movie’s directors.
Following his involvement as director, Mark Andrews did a heavy lifting to the story, to focus down on the core story. Among others, he cleared away many magic elements, which he found affected the environment.However, he wanted to stay truthful to Chapman's story. He said:"The bones of the film were totally fine. That was not the issue. What was hanging off the bones, there were problems. There were things that were not working. The focuses and balances that were out of whack."
The film was initially set for release on June 15, 2012, but was later changed to June 22, 2012.
Although the production of the film started in 2008, Brenda Chapman had already began work years earlier. As early as in 2006, several members of the crew made a research trip in Scotland. They made a total of two trips to Scotland for the film. Among others they visited the Eilean Donan and Dunnottar Castles, as well as the Callanish Standing Stones on the Isle of Lewis, which inspired the circle of standing stones that appears in the film.
For Brave, Pixar rewrote its animation system for the first time in 25 years.
To reproduce the lush and texture look of the landscapes of the Highlands, Pixar animators and designers created around 350 custom brushes in Photoshop, so that they could layer different designs, patterns and shapes in layers other to achieve a realistic and invisible look to all of the environments.
In discussing the creative process at Pixar in an interview for Bloomberg TV, John Lasseter said, "When we start a project, every Pixar film, there's something in the story that we need to do, that we don't know how to do, when we start the process. Every single one. And, with Brave, there was a lot. It's our first period film set in history. This is extremely difficult to do with computer animation, because to make it believable to the audience, every thing you see in the film, the castle, the stones the castle is made of, the trees with the moss on it, all this has a sense of history to it, has an age, you can see it in there. It's been there a really long time. We don't get that for free. Live action film, you can go on location and film stuff. But everything you see in a Pixar film has to be designed, and modeled, shaded. What I often say to these brilliant people here at Pixar that invent something so new it's unbelievable, when they really get done with it, I say, ‘You know what? Because of what you did that's so brilliant, the audience will never notice it because it's so believeable.’"
Animators were introduced to the weapons used in the film, in order to understand their working: some went into archery classes, while Mark Andrews taught swordfighting to animators.
Originally, Reese Witherspoon was planned to voice Princess Merida, but she was unable to work on the film due to scheduling issues and was replaced by Kelly Macdonald as a result.
Celtic and Pictish design and patterns have been integrated everywhere throughout the film, on Merida's bow, on clothing, walls, as well as to natural elements like snowflakes, moss or tree branches.
The original idea had 80% of the scenes taking place in the snow. In the final movie however, very few snow scenes remain.
The end credits of the movie include a special tribute to Steve Jobs.
Brave is rated PG by the MPAA (for some scary action and rude humor).
Brave currently has a score of 78% on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 183 reviews, making it the third Pixar movie to receive a rating below a 90%. The first 2 were Cars (74%) and Cars 2 (38%).
Critic Roger Ebert was quoted saying that, "The good news is that the kids will probably love it, and the bad news is that parents will be disappointed if they're hoping for another Pixar groundbreaker."
Attached Short Film
Attached to Brave is the Academy Award nominated short La Luna, directed by Enrico Casarosa, which premiered in June 2011 at the Annecy International Film Festival.
In June 2012, Kevin McKidd stated that he hoped that a sequel to Brave would have a marriage of Young MacGuffin and Merida.
In April 2013, Mark Andrews was asked by The Scotsman if there will be a sequel. He said: "I don’t know if there will be another one. We never make a film at Pixar to have a sequel. It is always nice when you do and we kind of have a philosophy that if we find the right story then we will. Surely the marketing and success of Brave says that you can have one and they will come."