Brave: Change Your Fate (2012)

Posted: June 23, 2012 in Action, Adventure, Animated, Family

Tradition is is the culture of the four clans of Scotland. Once divided by war, they united under the leadership of Lord Fergus. In defense of his young daughter Merida, he lost his leg to a bear but proved his bravery. As Merida came of age, it was time for her to be betrothed in a ceremony to keep the clans united. When she learns of a special rule in the process, she challenges tradition to win her own hand but damages her relationship with her mother and the calm between the clans. Running off into the woods, she comes across a strange rock formation and catches eye of a willo-the-wisp. Following them through the woods, she comes across a cottage and home to a woodcarving witch. Giving her an item to change her fate, Merida returns to the castle and attempts to use her magic on her mother, but she is surprised by the unexpected results. Immediately remorseful for her decision, she goes on a quest to reverse the magic and repair the damage caused by her rebellious behavior.

Starring: Kelly MacDonald (Merida), Billy Connolly (Fergus), Emma Thompson (Elinor), Julie Walters (the Witch), Robbie Coltrane (Lord Dingwall), Kevin McKidd (Lord MacGuffin), Craig Ferguson (Lord Macintosh), Sally Kinghorn (Maudie), Steve Purcell (the Crow)

Though Merida was originally to be voiced by Reese Witherspoon, Kelly MacDonald gives Merida a lot of energy and strength. In contest with Emma Thompson, there is a great back and forth battle for dominance between the two women in a society that seems to be a patriarchal society that still seems to be led by its matriarch. Billy Connolly and the actors portraying the lords have more of a comedic element in the film’s story.

  

Though the film changed directors part of the way through its development, Mark Andrews provided a very different direction than the previous Pixar films. Giving Pixar its first female protagonist, this story is one that breaks tradition on multiple levels. Merida’s relationship with mother was more innocent and playful during her childhood. Talk of magic and fantasy was part of their relationship. With maturity came expectations to continue the tradition of the clans, but Merida’s more active lifestyle went against her mother’s desire to see her become the woman she wanted her to be. The magic Merida used created the change she wanted but not in the way she could have ever believed. With her relationship with her mother torn by conflict but a desire to still break the expectation of marriage, she journeys for answers and the learns more about legends that can help her save her life and the stability of the clans.

  

While the visual presentation of the film is stunning, there are a number of interesting factoids about the making of the film. Besides Merida being the first female protagonist in a Pixar film, she is also the first princess in the Pixar-Disney joint venture. Before the director change, most of the film was going to take place in the snow. This dramatically changed when Andrews came on board but there were still a couple of snowy images left in the scenery shots. This is also the first Pixar film to serve as a period piece. While Wall-E is a representation of the future, all of the other films are timeless in an undefined sense of the word. Brave brings to life a colorful and comical version of life in old Scotland, including the existence of clans, games with the purpose of choosing a suitor and origins of tradition.

While it may be easy to believe the numerous previews would ruin the movie, most of the images and scenes shown in the previews are actually not in the movie, and thus do not ruin the experience of seeing the film. Brave may not be the best of the Pixar films, but it is a very strong showing in story and presentation. Is there really a bad Pixar movie?

Dan’s Rating: 4.0/5

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