Brave (2012 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Mark Andrews
|Produced by||Katherine Sarafian|
|Screenplay by||Mark Andrews
|Story by||Brenda Chapman|
|Music by||Patrick Doyle|
|Editing by||Nicholas C. Smith|
|Studio||Walt Disney Pictures
Pixar Animation Studios
|Distributed by||Walt Disney Studios
|Running time||93 minutes|
Brave is a 2012 American computer-animated fantasy produced by Pixar Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures. The story was conceived by writer/director Brenda Chapman, who drew inspiration from her relationship with her own daughter; Chapman became Pixar’s first female director of a feature length film. Brave was written by Chapman, Mark Andrews, Steve Purcell, and Irene Mecchi, and directed by Chapman and Andrews and co-directed by Purcell. The film's voice cast features Kelly Macdonald, Julie Walters, Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson, Kevin McKidd, Craig Ferguson, and Robbie Coltrane. To make the most complex visuals possible, Pixar completely rewrote their animation system for the first time in 25 years. It is the first film to use the Dolby Atmos sound format.
Set in the Scottish Highlands, the film tells the story of a princess named Merida who defies an age-old custom, causing chaos in the kingdom by expressing the desire to not be betrothed. After consulting a witch for help, Merida accidentally transforms her mother into a bear and is forced to undo the spell herself before it is too late. Brave premiered on June 10, 2012, at the Seattle International Film Festival, and was released in North America on June 22, 2012, to both positive reviews and box office success. The film won the Academy Award for Best Animated Film,  the Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Feature Film, and the BAFTA Award for Best Animated Film.
A young princess named Merida of the clan Dunbroch is given a longbow by her father, King Fergus, for her birthday, to her mother Queen Elinor's dismay. While practicing, Merida ventures into the woods to fetch a stray arrow, where she encounters a will-o'-the-wisp. Soon afterwards, Mor'du, a giant demon-bear, attacks the family. Merida escapes on horseback with Elinor, while Fergus fights off the bear at the cost of his left leg. Now a free-spirited and headstrong girl with much younger identical triplet brothers, Merida is informed that she is to be betrothed to one of her father's allied clans. Reminding Merida of a legend about a prince who had ruined his own kingdom by pride and refusal to follow his father's wishes, Elinor warns her that failure to consent to the marriage could harm Dunbroch, but Merida is still dissatisfied with the arrangement.
Rival clans arrive with their firstborn sons to compete in the Highland Games for Merida's hand in marriage. Merida, twisting the rules, announces she is eligible to compete for her own hand as the first-born of Clan Dunbroch and defeats each of her suitors in an archery contest, shaming the other clans. Merida's actions cause an argument with Elinor and she leaves. In the forest, Merida follows the wisps to the hut of an elderly witch posing as a wood carver. After some bargaining, the witch agrees to give Merida an enchanted cake to change her mother's mind.
Merida returns to the castle and gives Elinor the cake, which magically transforms her into a black bear. Realizing that she has made matters worse for herself, Merida returns with Elinor, who still retains most of her human personality, to the witch's cottage but finds only a message left behind. They learn that unless Merida is able to "mend the bond torn by pride" before the second sunrise, the spell will become permanent. The two are led by the wisps to ancient ruins, where they encounter Mor'du, whom Merida discovers was once the power-mad prince in Elinor's legend, under a similar transformation spell. Merida vows to her mother that she will not let her become a wild animal like Mor'du, and theorizes that she can reverse the spell by repairing the tapestry she damaged earlier.
At the castle, the clans are on the verge of war, but Merida interrupts their fighting and states that the children should be allowed to get married in their own time to whomever they choose. The clans agree, renewing and strengthening their friendships and breaking tradition. Merida then sneaks into the tapestry room with Elinor. Elinor, who is losing control of her human self, attacks Fergus, but suddenly regains her human consciousness and races out of the castle. Fergus, thinking that the queen was killed by Mor'du, pursues the bear with the other clans. With the help of her brothers, who have also eaten the enchanted cake and transformed into bear cubs, Merida rides after her father while simultaneously sewing up the tapestry. The clan members and Fergus capture Elinor, but Merida intervenes, just before Mor'du appears and attacks. A battle ensues, with Mor'du scattering the clan warriors and almost killing Merida. Elinor intervenes, using the strength of her bear form to hold off Mor'du long enough for him to be crushed by a falling menhir, which releases the prince's spirit. Before departing to the afterlife, he silently thanks Merida for finally freeing him from himself.
At the second sunrise, Merida realizes the true meaning of the witch's riddle, and reconciles with her mother. The queen is transformed back to her human form along with the triplets, and the family is happily reunited. A few days later, Merida and Elinor are working together to sew a new tapestry of Merida, and Elinor as a bear, when they are called to the docks to bid farewell to the other clan lords. They then ride their horses across Scotland together with a renewed mother-daughter bond.
- Kelly Macdonald as Merida, a Scottish princess who dreams of following her own path and living her own life.
- Emma Thompson as Queen Elinor, Dunbroch's diplomatic queen and Merida's mother, who just wants what's best for the kingdom and her only daughter.
- Billy Connolly as King Fergus, Dunbroch's king and Merida's boisterous father.
- Julie Walters as The Witch, a crafty and bumbling old woman who agrees to help Merida.
- Robbie Coltrane as Lord Dingwall
- Kevin McKidd as Lord MacGuffin and Young MacGuffin
- Craig Ferguson as Lord Macintosh
- Steve Purcell as The Crow
- Patrick Doyle as Martin, the guard
- John Ratzenberger as Gordon, the guard
- Sally Kinghorn and Eilidh Fraser as Maudie, the castle maid.
- Peigi Barker as Young Merida
- Steven Cree as Young Macintosh
- Callum O'Neill as Wee Dingwall
Announced in April 2008 as The Bear and the Bow, Brave is Pixar's first fairy tale. Brenda Chapman considers it a fairy tale in the tradition of Hans Christian Andersen and the Brothers Grimm, and was also inspired by her relationship with her daughter. Chapman conceived the project and was announced as the film's director, making her Pixar's first female director, but in October 2010, she was replaced by Mark Andrews following creative disagreements. Chapman found the news of her replacement "devastating", but later stated that her “vision came through in the film” and that she remains “very proud of the movie, and that I ultimately stood up for myself.” Brave is the first Pixar film starring a female protagonist. Merida was originally to be voiced by Reese Witherspoon, who declined due to scheduling issues. Instead, the character was voiced by Scottish actress Kelly Macdonald.
The score for Brave was composed by Patrick Doyle and performed by the London Symphony Orchestra. To bring some of Scotland's native flavor to the music, Doyle used native Scottish instruments such as bagpipes, a solo fiddle, Celtic harps, flutes and the bodhrán, with an electronically treated dulcimer and cimbalom to give it a more contemporary feel. "I employed many classic Scottish dance rhythms such as reels, jigs, and strathspeys, which not only serve the action but keep it authentic," said Doyle. Doyle had also written a drinking song for King Fergus and was traveling back and forth to Scotland for research. The composer has also been recording "unaccompanied Gaelic psalm singing."
In addition to Doyle's music, the film features three original songs. "Touch the Sky" (music by Alex Mandel, lyrics by Mark Andrews & Mandel) and "Into the Open Air" (music and lyrics by Alex Mandel) are both performed by Julie Fowlis, who provides Merida's off-screen singing voice. Mumford & Sons contributed the song "Learn Me Right" with Birdy to the film soundtrack.
The film was initially set for release on June 15, 2012, but it was later changed to June 22, 2012. On April 3, 2012, Pixar screened the film's first thirty minutes, and it received a positive reaction by its screeners. The film premiered on the last day of the Seattle International Film Festival on June 10, 2012. It had its Australian premiere on June 11, 2012, at the Sydney Film Festival, and had its domestic premiere on June 18, 2012, at Hollywood's Dolby Theatre as part of the Los Angeles Film Festival, its European premiere was at the Taormina Film Festival on Sicily on June 23, 2012, and its British premiere at the Edinburgh International Film Festival on June 30, 2012.
In the United States and Canada, Brave is the first feature-length film to use the Dolby Atmos sound format. Almost half of the 14 theaters set up to show the film in Atmos are in California (Burbank, Century City, Fremont, Hollywood, San Francisco, and Sherman Oaks), with the others located in seven states (Lake Buena Vista, Florida; Kansas City, Missouri; Paramus, New Jersey; Las Vegas, Nevada; Chicago; West Plano, Texas; Vancouver, Washington) and in Toronto, Ontario. It was released in other theaters with Dolby Surround 7.1. In total, it was released in 4,164 theaters, a record-high for Pixar, which was previously held by Cars 2 (4,115 theaters). 2,790 of the theaters included 3D shows.
Brave was released on Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, DVD, and digital download on November 13, 2012. It is accompanied with La Luna and a new short film The Legend of Mor'du. Exploring the history of Mor’du, the direct-to-video short will give fans the chance to delve deeper into the legend behind Mor'du, as told by the eccentric witch who transformed him.
Brave received generally positive reviews from critics. The film holds a 78% approval rating on the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 217 reviews with an average rating of 6.9/10. The site's critical consensus reads: "Brave offers young audiences and fairy tale fans a rousing, funny fantasy adventure with a distaff twist and surprising depth." Another review aggregator, Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 top reviews from mainstream critics, calculated a score of 69 based on 37 reviews, or "Generally favorable." The film was also well-received among the American audience, earning an "A" CinemaScore.
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 3 out of 4 stars. He wrote, "The good news is that the kids will probably love it, and the bad news is that parents will be disappointed if they're hoping for another Pixar groundbreaker. Unlike such brightly original films as Toy Story, Finding Nemo, WALL-E, and Up, this one finds Pixar poaching on traditional territory of Disney." He said that the film did have an uplifting message about improving communication between mothers and daughters, "although transforming your mother into a bear is a rather extreme first step." Peter Debruge of Variety gave a positive review of the film, remarking that the film "offers a tougher, more self-reliant heroine for an era in which princes aren't so charming, set in a sumptuously detailed Scottish environment where her spirit blazes bright as her fiery red hair." Debruge also said that "Adding a female director Brenda Chapman to its creative boys' club, the studio Pixar has fashioned a resonant tribute to mother-daughter relationships that packs a level of poignancy on par with such beloved male-bonding classics as Finding Nemo." Conversely, Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter gave it a negative review, stating that the film "diminishes into a rather wee thing as it chugs along, with climactic drama that is both too conveniently wrapped up and hinges on magical elements that are somewhat confusing to boot." Leonard Maltin on IndieWire said "I'll give it points for originality, but that story twist is so bizarre that it knocked me for a loop. The movie tries to make up for this detour with a heart-tugging, emotional finale, but the buildup to that moment has been undermined, so it doesn’t have the impact it should." 
Some reviewers saw the Merida character as a novel break from the traditional line of Disney Princesses, and there was thus some dissonance and criticism among viewers and organized feminists when her character was scheduled to be "crowned" a Disney Princess, only for artists to render her thinner, with less frizzly hair, and rounder eyes, more like the other princesses from previous Disney movies. This inspired girl-empowerment website A Mighty Girl to file a petition that Disney not alter their character. One of the 108,000 signatories was also Brenda Chapman, the co-director of the film, who felt that Disney had "betrayed the essence of what we were trying to do with Merida — give young girls and women a better stronger role model," and that the makeover was "a blatantly sexist marketing move based on money."
Brave earned $237,283,207 in North America, and $301,700,000 in other countries, for a worldwide total of $538,983,207. It is the thirteenth highest-grossing film of 2012, the eighth highest-grossing Pixar film, and the third highest-grossing animated film that year behind Ice Age: Continental Drift ($875.3 million) and Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted ($746.9 million).
In North America, pre-release tracking suggested the film would open between $55 million to $65 million in North America, which is slightly below average for a Pixar film. Trackers suggested that the film might not appeal to the male demographic.
It opened on June 22, 2012, with $24.6 million and finished its opening weekend with $66.3 million (the same amount as Cars 2, Pixar's previous film), at the upper end of the numbers analysts predicted. This is the seventh largest opening weekend in June, and the sixth largest for a Pixar film. Despite pre-release tracking indications, the audience was estimated to be 43% male and 57% female. In North America, it is the ninth highest-grossing Pixar film, the highest-grossing 2012 animated film, and the eighth highest-grossing film of 2012.
Outside North America, the film earned $14 million from 10 markets on its opening weekend, finishing in third place behind Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted and Snow White and the Huntsman. Overall, its largest openings occurred in France and the Maghreb region ($6.5 million), Mexico ($5.53 million), and Russia and the CIS ($5.37 million). In total earnings, its highest-grossing countries were the U.K., Ireland and Malta ($34.9 million), France and the Maghreb region ($26.8 million), and Mexico ($21.6 million).
|Academy Awards||Best Animated Feature Film of the Year||Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman||Won|
|Alliance of Women Film Journalists||Best Animated Feature|
|Best Animated Female||Kelly Macdonald (Merida)|
|American Cinema Editors||Best Edited Animated Feature Film||Nicholas C. Smith, A.C.E.|
|Annie Awards||Best Animated Feature||Nominated|
|Animated Effects Feature Production||Bill Watral, Chris Chapman, Dave Hale, Keith Klohn, Michael K. O’Brien|
|Character Animation Feature Production||Dan Nguyen|
|Music in an Animated Feature Production||Patrick Doyle, Mark Andrews, Alex Mandel|
|Production Design in an Animated Feature Production||Steve Pilcher||Won|
|Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production||Kelly Macdonald as Merida||Nominated|
|Writing in an Animated Feature Production||Brenda Chapman, Irene Mecchi, Mark Andrews and Steve Purcell|
|Editorial in an Animated Feature Production||Nicholas A. Smith, ACE, Robert Graham Jones, ACE, David Suther||Won|
|BAFTA Awards||Best Animated Film|
|Chicago Film Critics Association||Best Animated Feature||Nominated|
|Cinema Audio Society||Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing for Motion Pictures Animated||Won|
|Critics' Choice Awards||Best Animated Feature||Nominated|
|Best Song||Mumford & Sons and Birdy for Learn Me Right|
|Golden Globe Awards||Best Animated Feature Film||Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman||Won|
|Grammy Awards||Best Song Written for Visual Media||Mumford & Sons and Birdy for the song "Learn Me Right"||Nominated|
|Houston Film Critics Society||Best Animated Film|
|Best Original Song||Lean Me Right|
|Touch the Sky|
|International Film Music Critics Association Awards||Best Original Score for an Animated Feature||Patrick Doyle|
|Kids' Choice Awards||Favorite Animated Movie|
|Online Film Critics Society||Best Animated Feature|
|Phoenix Film Critics Society||Best Animated Film|
|Producers Guild of America||Animated Theatrical Motion Picture||Katherine Sarafian|
|San Diego Film Critics Society||Best Animated Film|
|Satellite Awards||Motion Picture, Animated or Mixed Media|
|Original Song||Learn Me Right – Birdy and Mumford & Sons|
|Saturn Awards||Best Animated Film||Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman|
|St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association||Best Animated Film|
|Toronto Film Critics Association||Best Animated Feature|
|Visual Effects Society||Outstanding Animation in an Animated Feature Motion Picture||Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman, Steve May, Katherine Sarafian, Bill Wise||Won|
|Outstanding Animated Character in an Animated Feature Motion Picture - Merida||Kelly Macdonald, Travis Hathaway, Olivier Soares, Peter Sumanaseni, Brian Tindall|
|Outstanding Created Environment in an Animated Feature Motion Picture — The Forest||Tim Best, Steve Pilcher, Inigo Quilez, Andy Whittock|
|Outstanding FX and Simulation Animation in an Animated Feature Motion Picture||Chris Chapman, Dave Hale, Michael K. O'Brien, Bill Watral|
|Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association||Best Animated Feature||Nominated|
|Women Film Critics Circle||Best Animated Females||Kelly Macdonald (Merida), Emma Thompson (Queen Elinor), Julie Walters (The Witch) and all other female characters in Brave.||Won|
A video game based on the film was published by Disney Interactive Studios on June 19, 2012, for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii, PC, and Nintendo DS. A mobile video game Temple Run: Brave (a Brave variation of Temple Run) was released on June 14, 2012, for iOS and Android, and on June 7, 2013, for Windows Phone.
Scottish publication The Scotsman asked director Mark Andrews on the notion of a sequel. Andrews said, "I don't know if there will be another one. We never make a film at Pixar to have a sequel. It is always nice when you do and we kind of have a philosophy that if we find the right story then we will. Surely the marketing and success of Brave says that you can have one and they will come."
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- 2012 WORLDWIDE GROSSES
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- Official website
- Brave at Box Office Mojo
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- Brave at Rotten Tomatoes
- Brave at the Big Cartoon DataBase
- The Legend of Mor'du at the Big Cartoon DataBase
- Brave at the Internet Movie Database