Brave is a 2012 American computer-animated fantasy comedy film produced by Pixar Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures. It was directed by Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman, and co-directed by Steve Purcell. The story is by Chapman, with the screenplay by Andrews, Purcell, Chapman and Irene Mecchi. Chapman drew inspiration from her relationship with her own daughter. Chapman became Pixar’s first female director of a feature-length film.[4] The film was produced by Katherine Sarafian, with John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Pete Docter as executive producers. The film's voice cast features Kelly Macdonald, Julie Walters, Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson, Kevin McKidd, Craig Ferguson, and Robbie Coltrane. To create the most complex visuals possible, Pixar completely rewrote their animation system for the first time in 25 years.[5][6][7][8] It is the first film to use the Dolby Atmos sound format.

Set in the Scottish Highlands, the film tells the story of a princess named Merida who defies an age-old custom, causing chaos in the kingdom by expressing the desire to not be betrothed. After consulting a witch for help, Merida accidentally transforms her mother into a bear and is forced to undo the spell herself before it is too late. Brave premiered on June 10, 2012, at the Seattle International Film Festival, and was released in North America on June 22, 2012, to both positive reviews and box office success. The film won the Academy Award,[9][10] the Golden Globe,[11] and the BAFTA Award for Best Animated Feature Film.[12]

Preceding the feature is a short film entitled La Luna, directed by Enrico Casarosa.[13]

Plot Edit

In Scotland, a child princess named Merida of the clan Dunbroch is given a bow and arrows by her father, King Fergus, for her birthday. Her mother, Queen Elinor, is dismayed. While venturing into the woods to fetch a stray arrow, Merida encounters a will-o'-the-wisp. Soon afterwards, Mor'du, a huge demon-bear, attacks the family. Merida flees on horseback with Elinor, while Fergus fights off Mor'du at the cost of his left leg.

Later as a free-spirited and headstrong young woman, Merida discovers that she is to be betrothed to the son of one her father's allies, much to her dismay. Reminding Merida of a legend of a prince whose pride and refusal to follow his father's wishes destroyed his kingdom, Elinor warns her that failure to consent to the betrothal could harm Dunbroch.

The allied clan chieftains arrive with their first-born sons to compete in the Highland Games for Merida's hand in marriage. Merida twists the rules, announcing that she is eligible to compete for her own hand as the first-born of Clan Dunbroch. She defeats each of her suitors in an archery contest, shaming the other clans and leading to an argument with Elinor. After storming out, she follows the wisps to the hut of an elderly witch. Merida bargains with the witch, and receives an enchanted cake that will change her fate.

The cake transforms Elinor into a black bear. Merida returns to the witch's cottage with Elinor, who still retains most of her human personality. The witch has abandoned the cottage but left a message: unless Merida is able to "mend the bond torn by pride" before the second sunrise, the spell will become permanent. Merida and Elinor are led by the wisps to ancient ruins, where they encounter Mor'du. Merida discovers that he was once the power-mad prince in the legend, transformed by a similar spell. Merida vows to her mother that she will not let her become a wild animal like Mor'du. She believes that she can reverse the spell by repairing a tapestry she damaged during their argument.

The clans are on the verge of war. Having learned the importance of responsibility from her experience with her mother, Merida intends to declare herself ready to choose a suitor as tradition demands. However, with silent encouragement from Elinor, she instead insists that the first-born should be allowed to marry in their own time to whomever they choose. The clans agree, breaking tradition but renewing and strengthening their alliance. Merida sneaks into the tapestry room with Elinor. Elinor, who is losing her humanity, attacks Fergus, but suddenly regains her composure and flees the castle. Mistaking the queen for Mor'du, Fergus pursues the bear with the other clans. With the help of her triplet brothers, who have been transformed by the enchanted cake into bear cubs, Merida repairs the torn tapestry while riding after her father. The clans and Fergus capture Elinor, but Merida intervenes. Mor'du appears and attacks. Mor'du scatters the clan warriors and targets Merida. Elinor intercedes, using her bear strength to hold off Mor'du until he is crushed by a falling menhir. This releases the fallen prince's spirit, who silently thanks Elinor for freeing him. As the sun rises for the second time, Merida realizes the witch's riddle, and reconciles with her mother. The queen is restored to her human form, as are the triplets, and the family is reunited.

Later, Merida and Elinor work together on a new tapestry of Merida and Elinor as a bear, when they are called to the docks to bid farewell to the other clans. Their bond renewed and strengthened by their adventure, Merida and Elinor become inseparable.

Voice cast Edit

  • Kelly Macdonald as Merida, a Scottish princess who dreams of following her own path and living her own life[4]
    • Peigi Barker as Young Merida
  • Emma Thompson as Queen Elinor,[4] Dunbroch's diplomatic queen and Merida's mother, whose respect for protocol and tradition brings her into conflict with her daughter.
  • Billy Connolly as King Fergus,[4] Dunbroch's king and Merida's boisterous father
  • Julie Walters as The Witch,[4] a crafty and bumbling old woman who agrees to help Merida
  • Robbie Coltrane as Lord Dingwall[4]
  • Kevin McKidd as Lord MacGuffin and Young MacGuffin[14]
  • Craig Ferguson as Lord Macintosh[4]
  • Steve Purcell as The Crow
  • Patrick Doyle as Martin, the guard
  • John Ratzenberger as Gordon, the guard[15]
  • Sally Kinghorn and Eilidh Fraser as Maudie, the castle maid
  • Steven Cree as Young Macintosh
  • Callum O'Neill as Wee Dingwall[16]

Production Edit

Announced in April 2008 as The Bear and the Bow,[17] Brave is Pixar's first fairy tale.[18][19][20] Writer and director Brenda Chapman considers it a fairy tale in the tradition of Hans Christian Andersen and the Brothers Grimm.[21] She also drew inspiration from her relationship with her daughter.[22] Chapman conceived the project and was announced as the film's director, making her Pixar's first female director,[23] but in October 2010, she was replaced by Mark Andrews after creative disagreements.[24] Chapman found the news of her replacement "devastating," but later stated that her "vision came through in the film" and that she remained "very proud of the movie, and that I ultimately stood up for myself."[22][25] Brave is the first Pixar film starring a female protagonist.[4] Merida was originally to be voiced by Reese Witherspoon,[26] who declined due to scheduling issues. Instead, the character was voiced by Scottish actress Kelly Macdonald.[4]

The end credits include a special tribute to Pixar co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs, who died in 2011.[27]

Music Edit

The score for Brave was composed by Patrick Doyle and performed by the London Symphony Orchestra. To bring some of Scotland's native flavor to the music, Doyle used native Scottish instruments such as bagpipes, a solo fiddle, Celtic harps, flutes and the bodhrán, with an electronically treated dulcimer and cimbalom to give it a more contemporary feel. "I employed many classic Scottish dance rhythms such as reels, jigs, and strathspeys, which not only serve the action but keep it authentic," said Doyle.[28]Doyle also wrote a drinking song for King Fergus and traveled back and forth to Scotland for research. The composer also recorded "unaccompanied Gaelic psalm singing."[29]

In addition to Doyle's music, the film features three original songs. "Touch the Sky" (music by Alex Mandel, lyrics by Mark Andrews & Mandel) and "Into the Open Air" (music and lyrics by Alex Mandel) are both performed by Julie Fowlis, who provides Merida's off-screen singing voice. Mumford & Sons contributed the song "Learn Me Right", performed with Birdy.

Walt Disney Records released the soundtrack on both CD album and digital download on June 19, 2012.[30]

Tartans Edit

Clan DunBroch tartan, STA 10641

Pixar created three original tartan patterns for the film for three of the four clans – DunBroch, Dingwall, and MacGuffin. (Clan Macintosh wears a red tartan similar to the nonfictional Clan Mackintosh.)

The Walt Disney Company registered the Clan DunBroch tartan with the official Scottish Register of Tartans upon release of the film. The tartan consists of ocean blue for the North Sea, subdued scarlet for blood shed during the clan wars, deep green for the Scottish Highlands, navy blue for the eventual unity of the four clans, and grey for the Scottish people. In selecting the color scheme, Pixar took historical considerations, stating that "[t]here was a concerted effort to use hues that were indicative of the less saturated dyeing techniques [used] during the ancient period in which the fantasy film is set."[31]

The registration was celebrated at the film's British premier in Edinburgh, where Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond presented a certificate to director Mark Andrews. However, Member of the Scottish Parliament Alex Johnstone criticized the registration (as well as other fiction-based entries such as one for Peter Rabbit) as "shallow and irreverent." Mr Johnstone contended that the 2008 legislation which created The Scottish Register of Tartans was intended to prevent such entries and protect Scotland's heritage.[32]

The registration was not the first for Disney; the company also registered a tartan pattern for the Clan McDuck in 1942.[33]

Release Edit

The film was initially set for release on June 15, 2012, but the date was later changed to June 22, 2012.[34] On April 3, 2012, Pixar screened the film's first 30 minutes, which received a positive reaction by its screeners.[35] The film premiered on the last day of the Seattle International Film Festival on June 10, 2012.[36] It had its Australian premiere on June 11, 2012, at the Sydney Film Festival,[37] its domestic premiere on June 18, 2012, at Hollywood's Dolby Theatre as part of the Los Angeles Film Festival,[38] its European premiere at the Taormina Film Festival in Sicily on June 23, 2012, and its British premiere at the Edinburgh International Film Festival on June 30, 2012.

In the United States and Canada, Brave is the first feature-length film to use the Dolby Atmos sound format.[39] Almost half of the 14 theaters set up to show the film in Atmos are in California (Burbank, Century City, Fremont, Hollywood, San Francisco, and Sherman Oaks), with the others located in seven other states (Lake Buena Vista, Florida; Kansas City, Missouri; Paramus, New Jersey; Las Vegas, Nevada; Chicago; West Plano, Texas; Vancouver, Washington) and Toronto, Ontario.[40] It was released in other theaters withDolby Surround 7.1. In total, it was released in 4,164 theaters, a record-high for Pixar. The previous record was held by Cars 2 (4,115 theaters).[41] 2,790 of the theaters included 3D shows.[42]

Home media Edit

Brave was released on Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, DVD, and digital download on November 13, 2012. It includes La Luna and a new short film The Legend of Mor'du.[43] Exploring the history of Mor’du, the direct-to-video short will give fans the chance to delve deeper into the legend behind Mor'du, as told by the eccentric witch who transformed him.[44]

Reception Edit

Critical response Edit

Brave received generally positive reviews from critics. The film holds a 78% approval rating on the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes based on 217 reviews, with an average rating of 6.9/10. The site's critical consensus reads: "Brave offers young audiences and fairy tale fans a rousing, funny fantasy adventure with a distaff twist and surprising depth."[45] Another review aggregator, Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 top reviews from mainstream critics, calculated a score of 69 based on 37 reviews, or "generally favorable."[46] The film was well-received among American audiences, earning an "A" CinemaScore.[47]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 3 out of 4 stars. He wrote, "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. Unlike such brightly original films as Toy StoryFinding NemoWALL-E, and Up, this one finds Pixar poaching on traditional territory of Disney." He said that the film did have an uplifting message about improving communication between mothers and daughters, "although transforming your mother into a bear is a rather extreme first step."[48] Peter Debruge of Variety gave a positive review of the film, writing that the film "offers a tougher, more self-reliant heroine for an era in which princes aren't so charming, set in a sumptuously detailed Scottish environment, where her spirit blazes bright as her fiery red hair." Debruge said that "adding a female director, Brenda Chapman, to its creative boys' club, the studio Pixar has fashioned a resonant tribute to mother-daughter relationships that packs a level of poignancy on par with such beloved male-bonding classics as Finding Nemo."[49]

Conversely, Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter gave it a negative review, stating that the film "diminishes into a rather wee thing as it chugs along, with climactic drama that is both too conveniently wrapped up and hinges on magical elements that are somewhat confusing to boot."[50] Leonard Maltin on IndieWire said, "I'll give it points for originality, but that story twist is so bizarre that it knocked me for a loop. The movie tries to make up for this detour with a heart-tugging, emotional finale, but the buildup to that moment has been undermined, so it doesn’t have the impact it should." [51]

Some reviewers saw the Merida character as a novel break from the traditional line of Disney princesses. There was some dissonance and criticism among viewers and organized feminists when her character was scheduled to be "crowned" a Disney princess, only for artists to render her thinner, with less frizzly hair, and rounder eyes, more like the other princesses from previous Disney movies. This inspired girl-empowerment website A Mighty Girl to file a petition that Disney not alter their character.[52][53] One of the 262,196 signatories was Brenda Chapman, the co-director of the film, who felt that Disney had "betrayed the essence of what we were trying to do with Merida — give young girls and women a better, stronger role model,"[54] and that the makeover was "a blatantly sexist marketing move based on money."[55] The online petition was considered a success, as shortly after it appeared Disney removed the redesigned image from their official website, in favor of Merida's original film appearance.[56] Disney later clarified the situation, assuring that Merida would remain in her original form.[57][58]

Box office Edit

Brave earned $237,283,207 in North America, and $301,700,000 in other countries, for a worldwide total of $538,983,207.[3] It was the 13th highest-grossing film of 2012,[59] the eighth highest-grossing Pixar film,[60] and the third highest-grossing animated film that year behind Ice Age: Continental Drift ($875.3 million) and Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted ($746.9 million).

In North America, pre-release tracking suggested the film would open between $55 million to $65 million in North America,[61][62] which is slightly below average for a Pixar film.[42]Trackers suggested that the film might not appeal to the male demographic,[42] although such fear was later proved wrong.[47]

It opened on June 22, 2012, with $24.6 million and finished its opening weekend with $66.3 million (the same amount as Cars 2, Pixar's previous film), at the upper end of the numbers analysts predicted.[63] This was the seventh largest opening weekend in June,[64] and the sixth largest for a Pixar film.[65] Despite pre-release tracking indications, the audience was estimated to be 43% male and 57% female.[47] In North America, it is the ninth highest-grossing Pixar film,[60] the highest-grossing 2012 animated film,[66] and the eighth highest-grossing film of 2012.[67]

Outside North America, the film earned $14 million from 10 markets on its opening weekend, finishing in third place behind Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted and Snow White and the Huntsman.[68] Overall, its largest openings occurred in France and the Maghreb region ($6.5 million), Mexico ($5.53 million), and Russia and the CIS ($5.37 million). In total earnings, its highest-grossing countries were the U.K., Ireland and Malta ($34.9 million), France and the Maghreb region ($26.8 million), and Mexico ($21.6 million).[69]

Possible sequel Edit

Scottish publication The Scotsman asked director Mark Andrews about the possibility of a sequel. Andrews 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."