Centuries ago in a Scottish kingdom, a young princess by the name of Merida wishes to be free from a life of rules and restrictions. She spends her days suffering through lessons of history, etiquette, and obedience taught by her mother, Queen Elinor. Yet, when she can escape the castle long enough, Merida rides away into the forest to dominate her favorite childhood pastime, archery. Years before, Merida received a bow from her father, King Fergus, on her birthday, much to the dismay of her mother. In the midst of training, Merida happens upon a will-o’-the-wisp, believed to be a magical creature capable of leading people to their destiny. Suddenly, an evil bear attacks, wounding King Fergus as Merida and Elinor flee back to the castle.
Merida continues to endure the queen’s constant nagging until the fatal news descends about the princess’ mandatory betrothal to one of the neighboring clans’ eldest sons. Outraged, Merida begins slicing her bedpost with a sword until interrupted by Elinor. Slashing words lead to a sliced family tapestry, causing the queen to throw Merida’s precious bow into the fireplace. Merida leaves on Angus, promising to change her fate no matter the cost.
As always, Pixar creates a world of enlightenment and magic, engulfing the screen with vivid colors and realistic animation. With a new illustration skill set and Photoshop tools, Pixar designers were able to create stronger imagery, layering colors for a more three-dimensional atmosphere. Backed by tradition Scottish instruments, the setting came to life, entrancing the audience with flutes and bagpipes. One of the best scenes of the film displaying the extreme attention to detail lies within the close-up view of Merida shooting an arrow during a tournament. The bending nature of the arrow, the small vibrations of the feathers, the splitting of the arrow shaft perfectly mimic archery in the real world.
The plot of “Brave,” although common to the entertainment realm, rings with an innovative touch, bringing viewers into a somewhat uncommon Scottish setting. An unhappy princess, striving to be free, decides to change her fate by relying on an easy way out, instead of dealing with the problem head on. Only with the power of love and understanding will Merida truly find her fate and stand strong with the kingdom. A vague two-sentence summary, but the experience of “Brave” is well worth the well-known story. Besides, heroines like Merida do not exist in every fairy tale, especially not with such vibrant, fire-like, curly hair and a set of triplet brothers who wreck havoc on the castle grounds. In the end, I adore Merida, because her true nature was beautifully captured through voice selection, animation, and attitude. Despite everything, the young princess remained true to the title of the film, brave.