Thursday, 16 August 2012

The Wee Bonnie Princess

PIXAR are an animation company. They make, what a lot of people would call, kids movies. They are the masterminds behind the Toy Story series, Up, Finding Nemo, Monsters Inc , and a host of other well known and loved movies. They have covered a lot of genres and touched a lot of hearts. They focus more on their stories than any other film production company. And now they are providing their interpretation of fairy tales and, more importantly, adding another movie to Disney's stream of princess films. This is Brave.

Merida (Kelly Macdonald) is a Scottish princess and daughter to King Fergus (Billy Connolly) and Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson). They live in a castle in Scotland in the Medieval times with Merida's three younger brothers who are triplets. What her parents haven't told her, however, is that the three neighbouring clan leaders are going to present their first born sons to compete for Merida's hand in marriage, an idea which she strongly opposes. Her mother convinces her that it is her fate and her destiny to marry one of these men. Merdia, in a fit of anger and despair runs off with her horse, Angus, and heads into the woods. A trail of blue willo-the-wisps (glowing balls of blue lights that lead one to their destiny) appear and take Merida to a small cottage where an old lady (Julie Walters), a wood cutter, promises she can assist with changing the princess' fate. But there is a dark side to this promise and things get out of hands for Merida very quickly. She'll have to remain brave to get through the obstacles that now present themselves.

The triplets will shoot into your heart

It is needless to say that this is the finest animation that cinema has ever experienced to date. The attention to detail is something that only PIXAR could ever be capable of achieving. Every single one or Merida's ginger curls has a life of it's own, every single leaf dances individually, and the landscapes are so beautifully modelled, it is almost impossible to tell that it is animation. The soundtrack is also a delightful accompaniment to the film, creating a superb atmosphere that perfectly reflects that action on screen. If you didn't like Celtic or Scottish Folk music before, you will now. It has something for everyone. There is enough jokes so that everyone will laugh despite age difference. A cheeky bum slap for the adults, the triplets antics for the young ones. Oh, it is also possible that it will make you cry. It is PIXAR. What did you expect? They are brutal story tellers.

A film about hot ginger with curly hair and a ripped dress...
Who is also a badass.

In true Pixar fashion, the story's subject matter is based on a contemporary issue, shifted into a fantasy world. Here, the issue of families and the struggle that they present but ultimately how important it is. The characters are so easy to relate to and so realistically written that you will easily notice the comparisons to people you know in your life. However, what makes Brave stand out among the other Disney Princess movies is it's focus, not on love, but on independence. Mulan ignited the idea of a strong Disney princess - fighting for her families pride in a man's world - even if she did fall in love along the way with a strong man. Feminists can rejoice as Merida promotes female strength, independence, and beauty. She shows that you do not have to be a masculine looking lady to be strong, you can also be a hot ginger. She's not doing anything for love, in fact he wants to avoid marriage. Sure, she accepts love and that she may fall in love, but that is simply a beautifully animated hair on the head of this film.

Whether you're simple captivated by the outstanding animation, or deeply love a magical story, you will enjoy Brave. The story does find simple ways to avoid complicated issues and characters come to ridiculous conclusions far too quickly, but overall, the brilliance out weighs it's flaws. It may not go down in PIXAR's history as one of their best films, but it is definitely near the top of the list of Disney Princess films. Don't be fooled into thinking this is a kid's movie. It is made for all ages and it is completely lovable. It is funny, touching, and has some brilliantly entertaining fight scenes. A must see.

Best Bit? Anything involving the little brothers. The cinema would burst into laughter with almost all their antics.

La Luna 

The latest PIXAR short is possible the prettiest to date. A pair of men argue while rowing out to sea, a boy sat between them. They anchor and then the moon rises. And in that moment, the cinema's air quantity dropped a large amount as every single person seated gasped. The animation was incredible, the story was simple and poetic. Not a single word was said in the entirety of the short but everything was understood. Simply brilliant film making.