Into Film Project: 17 – Brave

A month after St Andrew’s Day on 30th November, here is my review of Brave, the 2012 Disney Pixar film following the adventures of Scottish princess Merida. This was actually my third time watching the film and it holds happy memories of pre-GCSE Results Day and the EPIC Weekend Away. On seeing Brave on the Christmas Day schedule I knew it was time to watch it again and write this review.

Directed by Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman, it is the first feature length Pixar film to be directed by a woman and the strength of the first Pixar princess clearly reflects this. The complexity of the mother-daughter relationship in the film shows how Chapman drew on her own experience with her daughter. It is this relationship that is at the centre of this story and it is Merida’s defiance of her mother’s regulation of her life that is the most refreshing aspect of the 90 minutes.

As a cartoon the casting directors have much more freedom with who to place in each role. I was surprised with how fantastic Kelly Macdonald was at portraying the young princess despite being in her 30s when the film was produced. Emma Thompson was fantastic as her mother as well and I wonder how much her and Macdonald interacted in recording the dialogue between them. Combined with the fantastic animation you really see the troubled but loving relationship between them. The Scottish accents are incredibly good too and add authenticity to the film.

The film itself is slow to start and on a first watch seems in two parts, but is very enjoyable none the less, and needs to contain the slower contextual background at the beginning to truly understand the storyline. Another part of the production that deserves a mention is the fantastic score by Patrick Doyle. It is music that I would listen to outside of the film, especially while studying, and depicts the dramatic action particularly well.

Brave is a family film with an important view of women that everyone can enjoy. Four stars.

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