Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Disney Pixar's "Brave" ★ ★ ★ ★ ½


Release Dates
21st June
, 2012   USA 22nd June, 2012   UK 17th August, 2012 Other Countries Release Dates

In the best books and films, we fall in love with the characters—their personality, their strengths, their struggles with their weaknesses, their style.  In ‘Brave’s’, Merida, Disney Pixar has given us not only a beautiful character  that young and old will love, they have also given us her Hair.  That’s right, I said, her hair. 
Let me tell you, I now dream about owning a Merida doll or a Merida wig or a blanket made from Merida hair.  This red, flowing, gorgeous, wavy and ringletted matter is stunning.   It has a life and a beauty of its own and I’m looking forward to a sequel to see what becomes of Merida’s hair.
And that is part of the magic of this film, the animation is the most exquisitely divine ever seen on screen.  Producer and Pixar veteran, Katherine Sarafian, comments “'Brave’ has a visual complexity that’s at a new level—even for Pixar.  Ancient Scotland—with horses, bears and human beings—is about as organic as you can get. There’s absolutely nothing easy in the film. We’ve pushed the look, pushed our technology and pushed our artists to new heights. Merida’s wild, curly mane of red hair and the complexity of clothing on all of the characters—from formal dresses to tunics, cloaks and armor, plus layers and layers of kilt—made this our most challenging film yet.”

To prepare for this assignment, the eighty strong 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. Director Mark 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.
 John Lasseter, chief creative officer for Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios and an executive producer of ‘Brave, says, “It’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen. That’s what we love to do at Pixar. We love to go to new worlds and present stories that you’ve never seen before. It’s a tour de force of technology and artistry.”
The story introduces Pixar’s first female hero in Merida (Kelly Macdonald) a Scottish princess destined to marry one of the son’s of the four clans.  The necessity of the marriage is steeped in Scottish folklore and history and it appears unavoidable.  Since childhood, Merida has behaved more like her boisterous father, King Fergus (Billy Connolly) than a demure royal daughter.  She becomes an expert archer and a beloved sister to her brothers, identical triplets Harris, Hubert and Hamish—adorable mischievous young red-headed boys (and even they’ve got good hair). 

Merida, like her hair, will not be tamed.  As she grows older her struggle against her destiny and her Mother Queen Elinor’s (Emma Thompson) expectations that she play the perfect Princess, tears the Mother and daughter apart.  When the clans come together to celebrate the betrothal of Merida, to the winner of a physical challenge, everything comes to a head.   Merida sets forth on a path which brings her a humorous encounter with a witch (Julie Walters) who grants her an ill-considered spell.  In her plight to reverse the spell Merida must discover truths about herself and her Mother and what it means to be brave.  The story evokes the true emotional turmoil of a teenager breaking free from her parent's rule.
"There’s a reason why the story of “Brave” is so relevant," says director Brenda Chapman. "It’s inspired by a real relationship. I was dealing with a very headstrong daughter.  She was so passionate and so strong—and she was four at the time. I thought, ‘What’s she going to be like as a teenager?'"
“I started to imagine what a fairy tale would be like,” continues Chapman, “with a working mom and a really willful daughter whose strength you don’t want to squash—but sometimes you do want to squash it a little. But in the end, it wasn’t a fairy tale at all. ‘Brave’ turned out to be more of an epic action-adventure.”
‘Brave  is the tenth original film from Disney Pixar, and as in all their films—as masterful as their animation may be—it’s the parable within the story that reaches out from the screen and drags you in.  It reminds us all that bravery is not only in fighting for your beliefs but striving to understand others.   Oh, and lest we not forget, accepting that you will never have hair like Merida no matter how much product you use.

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