I think it’s safe to say that Pixar creates the best animated films out there. Don’t get me wrong. DreamWorks has been doing very well recently, but there’s something about the attention to detail in the graphics and stories that makes Pixar the best. I lead with this only because I have a confession.
Those of you who know me well know that I don’t show emotion other than anger often. I probably only cry five times a year, and that’s usually out of frustration rather than sadness. The only movie I’ve ever cried in was Up, which coincidentally enough is a Pixar movie. If you’ve seen that movie, you’ll know exactly why I did. Pixar can take five minutes of film time and tell you the most dimensional, heart-wrenching story ever—and they can do it without dialogue. Well, guess what? I cried during Brave. Yes, laugh it up. Now, shut up and read my goddamn review.
Any way, onto the plot! Here is how Disney describes it: “Merida (Kelly MacDonald) is a skilled archer and impetuous daughter of King Fergus (Billy Connolly) and Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson). Determined to carve her own path in life, Merida defies an age-old custom sacred to the uproarious lords of the land: massive Lord MacGuffin (Kevin McKidd), surly Lord Macintosh (Craig Ferguson), and cantankerous Lord Dingwall (Robbie Coltrane). Merida’s actions inadvertently unleash chaos and fury in the kingdom, and when she turns to an eccentric old Witch (Julie Walters) for help, she is granted an ill-fated wish. The ensuing peril forces Merida to discover the meaning of true bravery in order to undo a beastly curse before it’s too late.”
Honestly, I expected this movie’s plot to take a completely different path than the one it did, which is why I think this movie was so refreshing. Most plots (especially the animated fairytale ones) with a female heroine often center entirely around her falling in love—because, you know, that’s all women can do besides make a sandwich.
But Brave didn’t do that. No, the focus of this story was on the relationship between Merida and her mother, Queen Elinor. Now, the quarrel between Merida and her mother is that her mother pushes her to act like a lady and choose a husband from one of the three Scot clans, none of which are appealing to Merida. After getting frustrated enough, Merida has a witch put a spell on her mother in order to get out of having to choose a suitor. Unfortunately, the spells turns Queen Elinor into a bear. Now, her becoming a bear might seem like a silly plot point until you remember that King Fergus lost his leg in a battle with a vicious bear, Mordu, that dwells in the forest and looks similar to the bear the queen becomes.
Seriously, as an audience member, it was a nail-biter every time the queen (in bear form) was near the king because you knew he would kill her if he saw her. Any way, the only way the spell could break was if Merida and her mother could mend their broken bond. Pixar really created a fantastic story because, not only did they shy away from the “Look at me, I’m in love!” plot, but they also put layer upon layer of tension in this movie only to work the story through each of those tensions. God, I have such a story boner right now.
Another win for this movie were Merida’s three little brothers and their constant shenanigans. They were seriously the perfect comic relief in this movie. And what I mean by that is they didn’t overwhelm the film. It was just enough that, when they appeared in the scene, you knew something ridiculous was about to happen. Whomever did the screenplay for this movie obviously has a good understanding of story arcs and the balancing of comedy and drama.
Of course, the graphic design of this movie was unbelievable, both of the characters and the setting. They really captured the beauty and mystery of Scotland so much that I felt like I had really been there. And Merida’s hair! I read somewhere that it took Pixar months to get her hair just right because there was an individual movement for every single curl of her hair. I think they also did the same thing with Merida’s horse, Angus. Remember what I said about Pixar’s attention to detail? Yeah, this is what I mean.
Speaking of attention to detail, did you notice the tartans of the Scottish clans? (For those of you who don’t know what a tartan is, it’s the pattern of a specific family, clan, or region. Generally, they wear them on their kilts). For example, Lord Macintosh—one of the clan leaders in the movie—wears a red and green-striped tartan; and that’s the actual Macintosh clan’s tartan. I didn’t check all of them, but I was curious enough to look up most of the tartans. Somebody please high-five Pixar for this shit.
Overall, I don’t think I can even describe how beautiful and well-crafted this movie was. If you don’t believe me, let my tears be the proof. The graphics, the story, the characters—everything about this movie is absolute perfection. Hell, the only thing I could find wrong with it was just a minor detail that made me clutch my pearls! Beyond that, this is a movie that will entertain both kids and adults alike. And for people, like me, with Scottish heritage, it should make them feel proud to be a Scot! Now, I need to go back and watch this movie for the hidden hint of Pixar’s next film (which they’ve been doing in every movie since Monsters, Inc.). Seriously, if anyone else finds it, you better tell me! I’m already nerding out at the thought of the next Pixar movie.