I've cobbled together some of that hi-res concept art, posters, promotional images, and information for one big Brave post. I've also added my thoughts on what we've seen so far and the controversy surrounding the movie.
(voiced by Kelly MacDonald)
(voiced by Emma Thompson)
(voiced by Julie Walters)
(voiced by Craig Ferguson)
I'D LIKE TO KNOW
Is that blood on her face? Or scratches?
From EW Magazine
So far, the biggest resolution I could find. Also - will'o'the'wisps.
And once again,
WHAT ARE YOU
Look closely at the figures in the 'B' and 'E.'
It's Merida and her mother, Queen Elinor.
And I swear that's a scratch on her face. /fan!theory
The German title - Merida: Legend of the Highlands
Since ancient times, stories of epic battles and mystical legends have been passed through the generations across the rugged and mysterious Highlands of Scotland. In “Brave,” a new tale joins the lore when the courageous Merida (voice of Kelly Macdonald) confronts tradition, destiny and the fiercest of beasts.
Merida is a skilled archer and impetuous daughter of King Fergus (voice of Billy Connolly) and Queen Elinor (voice of Emma Thompson). Determined to carve her own path in life, Merida defies an age-old custom sacred to the uproarious lords of the land: massive Lord MacGuffin (voice of Kevin McKidd), surly Lord Macintosh (voice of Craig Ferguson) and cantankerous Lord Dingwall (voice of Robbie Coltrane). Merida’s actions inadvertently unleash chaos and fury in the kingdom, and when she turns to an eccentric old Witch (voice of Julie Walters) for help, she is granted an ill-fated wish. The ensuing peril forces Merida to discover the meaning of true bravery in order to undo a beastly curse before it’s too late.
- Disney/Pixar's Official Brave Site
It’s Pixar Animation Studio’s first fairy tale fantasy, and it marks yet another change of pace for the venerable dream factory. “What we want to get across [with the teaser] is that this story has some darker elements,” director Mark Andrews tells EW. “Not to frighten off our Pixar fans — we’ll still have all the comedy and the great characters. But we get a little bit more intense here.”
That feeling is also apparent in the film’s first poster, which you can see in the official first look below. You may notice some mysterious stones in the background of the poster, and that’s on purpose. “Those stones are actually a pretty important set in the film,” says producer Katherine Sarafian. “We can’t say what happens there, but they were inspired by an actual location in Scotland that we visited multiple times during our research. It was a very powerful setting for the kind of things we want to have happen in the story.”
- EW.com, 'Brave' poster: Pixar's first fairy tale goes 'darker, more intense'
I'm excited for this one, not just for the gynocentric focus (A central mother-daughter relationship? In a kids movie?! FROM A MAJOR STUDIO?!) or that Pixar is making their Princess a tough-girl archer, but because it looks like a fairy tale that takes itself pretty seriously. I love the moodiness in the concept art, the sense you get that this is not a safe place. Merida's world is mysterious and beautiful, but it may not be forgiving.
What I understand of the story so far is it's the Little Nemo plot: the character is told not to do one thing, the character does it anyway, and spends the rest of the movie trying to make up for it. But I also get the sense that it's going to be one of those "You cannot alter your fate, but you can rise to meet it" kind of movies. I like the idea Merida won't get off easy and will have to make sacrifices for her happy ending, not because I want to see the Merida suffer as much as to get a tense and satisfying third act.
As to the controversy surrounding Brave, I'm torn. Brenda Chapman is an animation heavyweight: she directed the stunning Prince of Egypt and was Head of Story for The Lion King. She was going to be the first female Pixar director, with the first female-penned Pixar story, directing the first female Pixar protagonist. Then she was fired from Brave, arguably her passion project, over "creative differences." And I don't know what to think.
As many have already noted, animated movies often have shifting directors, so a shake-up isn't that big of a surprise. The difference with Brave is a female-director, the first ever for Pixar, was a selling point for the movie. It was supposed to be positive press and assuage the public's growing concern that Pixar was a white-boys-only animation club. Now she's been regulated to co-director with Mark Andrews, and will probably have to keep her mouth shut through awards season to get credit on what seems to be creatively her film.
The situation has left a bad taste in everyone's mouth. We don't know if Chapman's was running the project into the ground or if her vision was clashing with the studio heads. Was it gender-discrimination? It's always going to have that tinge because of Pixar's film track record. But then again, this is the sort of problem you run into with any progressive family film - any perceived slight on political correctness becomes a media firestorm. Princess and the Frog was racist for having an African American protagonist, Tangled could sell merchandise to little girls but not movie tickets. This situation may be a mountain out of a molehill, and Chapman was let go just because she wasn't the best person to be directing. We don't know, and probably won't know definitively for many years - if ever.
I'm still excited for the film and at this point am still planning on seeing it, but the checkered history of the film is always going to be in the back of my mind. Is it going to be a success for female-protagonists in films, but a failure for female animation directors? I don't know.
What do you think?
ETA: Ridiculous GIFs