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Pixar's animated 'Brave' pays tribute to legends and beauty of Scotland, dedicates production to memory of Steve Jobs

By WcP.Movie.Critic - Posted on 25 June 2012

Pixar’s Brave: a fairy tale about an archery-loving Scottish princess


'BRAVE' Keeps Pixar's Winning Streak Alive
Ancient Scotland has been the setting for many past adventures in movies... And now it becomes Pixar's location for the studio's production of 'Brave'.

The story of BRAVE is a simple one with a red-headed and strong willed Princess Merida (voiced by Kelly McDonald) doing her own thing in the kingdom where her archery skills don't exactly endear her to the male community. Her mom, the Queen (voiced by Emma Thompson) isn't thrilled either. The final straw comes when Merida refuses to go along with an arranged marriage. To escape her planned-out future, she escapes into the woods where she falls under a wicked witch's---a funky witch's spell - voiced by Julie Waters. The spell turns mom into a giant black bear---with emotions--- but unable to speak and leading to chaos and fury throughout the kingdom. Will the Queen's spell be reversed before time runs out? Will the Princess make up with mom and make pop, King Fergus (voiced by Billy Connelly) proud?

As to the production itself, it's dedicated to Steve Jobs who gave a new lease on life to Pixar back in 1986. And as for the look of the film, Jobs would be proud.

"Legends are legends---they ring with truths" That line in the film pretty well sums things up.

Disney/Pixar's 'Brave,' Highlights The Beauty Of Scotland
The landscape in which "Brave," Pixar's latest film, unfolds is not merely a dream conjured by the studio's talented animators, but a lovingly recreation of a singular landscape. In fact, Pixar sent two teams to Scotland starting in 2006 to explore the country's castles, glens, forests and coastline.

Many aspects of "Brave" ultimately came out of those trips. The will o' the wisps that the film's heroine, Merida, finds awe-inspiring, come from a combination of Scottish legend and strange physical phenomenon. The film's producer, Katherine Sarafian, explained to The Huffington Post that "there is also bog gas in the region that disappears as you get closer." Movie magic was born of swamp vampor. The DunBroch family seal is also partially lifted from a Celtic legend that, to rule the kingdom, you had to gather four magical items that each had powers.

According to Safarian, the studio's staff ended up following a specific itinerary defined, oddly, by the honeymoon of Mark Andrews, the film's director. "A cab driver told them all these under-the-radar places and that's where they went on their honeymoon," say Sarafian. "So, when we went to Scotland for research, we basically replicated his honeymoon trip."

Huffington Post Travel spoke with Mark Andrews and Katherine Sarafian ahead of "Brave"'s release to talk Celtic legends, castles and their favorite parts of their journeys.

HuffPostTravel: What impressed you most about Scotland?

Mark Andrews: You can’t escape the grandeur and beauty of Scotland. It’s so wild and rough. You don’t find anywhere else on earth that has mountains like that. All the lochs and the trenches are so rugged it evokes the mysteries and legends that have come out of Scottish culture. The grey, cool mist mixes in with the russet mountains. The variation of landscape and ecosystems makes everything feel very touchable, everything has texture. We could only have found out all of it by actually going to Scotland. We wanted to collect enough details so we could bring them back to make it all very Scottish. The film has the character of Scotland, which is what you want when doing a periodesque piece.

HPT: What was your favorite part of the trip?

MA: My favorite part of the whole trip was when we went to the ancient spot of Dal Riata, an ancient Celtic kingdom area. There is this rock on a hill in the middle of a field where kings over the centuries have been crowned—this is like stuff out of King Arthur. There are these footprints in the stone where kings stood over the centuries waiting to be crowned. Legend has it that the rock will sing if you are meant to be king. We all took off our shoes, held a fake sword and stood on the rock one by one and asked if we were the rightful king. We weren’t.

Pixar's 'Brave' gang shares tales of Scotland
Disney's Pixar Animation have crafted a meticulous vision of Scotland with its mossy crags, rugged peaks and red-haired lads and lasses in their story of a spirited young woman (voiced by Kelly Macdonald) who bucks ancient Celtic tradition.

Macdonald, fellow Scottish voice stars Craig Ferguson and Kevin McKidd, "Brave" director Mark Andrews and producer Katherine Sarafian chatted with The Associated Press about just what it is that puts the Scot into the Scottish land and people:

AP: Do the Scottish people in "Brave" resemble the real thing?

Ferguson: I think they do. What happens is, there are stereotypes about the Scottish people. There's the positive stereotype of the kind of noble warrior poet, and there's the negative stereotype about the angry, belligerent drunk. Both of these have a basis in fact. But what I haven't seen captured too often in films made outside of Scotland is the sense of whimsy and the sense of fun that exists in the Scottish psyche.

AP: "Brave" is animated, but does the landscape feel like the real Scotland?

McKidd: They've really captured that magical, whimsical feeling about Scotland. If you've ever stood on a hillside in Scotland or stood on a ferry going over to one of those beautiful islands as the sun is setting, there's a magic, a patina to Scotland. You understand why people were incredibly superstitious hundreds of years ago. ... I said the other day, I didn't think it would be possible to make an improvement on Scotland, but I think Pixar has actually managed it.

AP: If someone going to Scotland asked what to expect, what would you tell them?

Sarafian: I think you'd expect the people to have this steely look on their face. Very, like, unapproachable, like you would never want to go up to one of these people and ask a question.

And I learned they've had to brace their faces from the weather. ... Mark tells the story about being there and there was no room at the inn basically, so it's "Excuse me, would you possibly know if there's any rooms?" And then it's "Yes! Of course! My mate down the road has a place! Let me show you the way!" Suddenly, you're family. They really are very friendly and warm and gregarious behind that face.

'Brave' Steve Jobs Tribute: New Pixar Film Remembers Late Apple Co-Founder: "Dedicated to the memory of Steve Jobs, our partner, mentor and friend."
"Brave," the animated film from Pixar, includes a special tribute to Steve Jobs in its closing credits. According to the Wall Street Journal blog Speakeasy, an early cut of "Brave" featured a title card at the end dedicating the film to Jobs. The Apple co-founder, who was also CEO of Pixar Studios, died on Oct. 5, 2011 after a long bout with pancreatic cancer.

The Jobs tribute isn't the only notable aspect of "Brave": it's the first animated film from Pixar to features a female main character -- Princess Merida, a strong-willed heroine in the vein of Katniss Everdeen. It's also the first Pixar feature with a credited female co-director: Brenda Chapman.

"Brave" joins "John Carter" as the first films to acknowledge Jobs' untimely death, and the Apple mastermind's legacy won't fade from the cinema anytime soon. Ashton Kutcher is set to play Jobs in an upcoming film, and "Social Network" scribe Aaron Sorkin is said to be writing the script for another biopic.


Image courtesy Pixar

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