Jun 21, 2012

A Brave Step Forward

Pixar's latest film, Brave opened today and of course I had to get along and take a look. There had been a great deal of hype about this film in Australia and this was one of those rare cases when it was actually justified. Brave was more than a wee bit brilliant.

The film itself is a new step forward for the studio as they have created a film that will be taking its place alongside other myths, legends and fairy-tales that have been animated by sister company Disney.

The refreshing difference with this film is that it is clear that story is king with focus on developing strong female characters that despite being of a royal family are anything but the typical pretty in pink princess. A full synopsis of the film can be found here. The women in this film are exceptionally well crafted and it is clear that we the audience are watching their story unfold. As the first female protagonist for Pixar, Merida is a fantastic character that we are able to see grow and change throughout the course of the narrative, Merida's growth is complimented with that of her mother who also learns lessons about the priorities of life. One of the nice concepts in this film is that both central female leads compromise rather than surrendering or being defeated. Aside from the familial conflict between mother and daughter, the outside evil in the form of savage bear also has an ending that is anything but typical in this genre of animation. Brave is a film that pushes beyond the blacks and whites of good versus evil and instead delves into the greys of relationships and narrative. 

For this reason I found that the film itself was more of an adult film, this is not to say that kids won't enjoy it, but the nuances between mother and daughter and the movement towards acceptance and compromise are notions that rise above the base good versus evil paradigm of the fairytale. Comic relief is provided by the supporting characters of clansmen and slapstick is expertly executed by Merida's three brothers. I was pleased to see none of the superfluous sidekick characters that can get tiresome and in some instances have become a clearly defined afterthought.   

Although clearly a character driven narrative, the setting of the film cannot be underestimated with the rugged Scottish highlands shaping the character that Merida is and the one that she becomes by the end of the story. There are plenty of long sweeping shots of beautiful scenery, the attention to detail and the interwoven evidence of myth-making in the environment is exceptional as one would expect from Pixar. 

The technical aspects of this film are astounding and kudos must be given to those who worked on the protagonist's flowing red locks- my mind blown. The weight of the fabric and the movement of the dresses was also a highlight (Geez I am such an animation nerd) but I did love the fact that although their dresses were fine, they were still heavy and suitable for the climate. I also loved the natural movement and the integration of the bear movements with the human characteristics of the Queen. The attention to detail on the movement and interaction with the horses was also something I didn't expect, but it was extremely good. 

Overall, Brave was a thoroughly entertaining movie that delivered. I laughed and I cried and can't wait to get back to see it again. 


  1. Good review Natalie. Had a lot of fun with this one for the first half or so, but then after that, things started to go downhill for me and it lost my focus. Usually, I love the heck out of Pixar films but this one didn’t do much for me, except give me plenty of eye-candy to gaze at.