WOULD the Pixar Studios be able to hack it with a more conventional narrative like Brave, after the tricks of A Bug’s Life, Toy Stories, Cars, Up, Wall-E, Finding Nemo and Ratatouille? After all, the traditional fairy tale is territory that normally is occupied by Disney alone.
Somehow, though, after a shaky start to the production (it began life under a different director and another title), Brave emerges as a feisty foray with a fiercely feminist heroine at its core and its tartan credentials intact.
It’s no surprise that director Mark Andrews spent a considerable time watching such films as Braveheart, Local Hero and even Whisky Galore to imbue himself in the local lore and language. Visits to a Highland games and an odd dram or three also were deemed obligatory for the crew.
Best of all, they scored by mustering the almost exclusively Scottish voice cast, among them Craig Ferguson, Robbie Coltrane and Kevin McKidd, who play rival clan chiefs whose sons are competing for the hand of Princess Merida. As enunciated by Kelly Macdonald’s dulcet tones, she’s a girl who knows how to wield a weapon and ride a horse with the best of them. She is lorded over by Billy Connolly, as her father King Fergus, and Emma Thompson as her super-regal mother. This matriarch provides the voice of reason, urging her daughter to marry to save the kingdom from a terrible fate and arranges a betrothal. Will her freedom-loving offspring be prepared to compromise?
Feeling betrayed, Merida shakes her flame-haired locks and sets off to try to change her fate…
With enough cliff-hangers and setpieces to keep the narrative rolling along at a fair speed, there remain plenty of moments of calm in which to appreciate the rich visuals of a mythical Scotland – a tartanesque palette of soft blues and greens, all misty at the edges.
It may not be as exquisitely beautiful as Sylvain Chomet’s hand-crafted evocation of Scotland from a different era in The Illusionist, but as a feast for the eyes and senses it more than passes muster.
Will middle America and the rest of the world cope with the Scottishness of it all and the accents? Andrews has been careful not to overload the verbal challenges, so most of the essential dialogue is crystal clear.Where it’s not so obvious, audiences will put it down to authenticity.
For a Pixar film, the obvious difference is that there are no gimmicks in the way of cars, bugs and toys.
Instead, it’s a film that relies heavily on relationships and characters, all laced with humour, derring-do and a dollop of Celtic chutzpah.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Friday 24 May 2013
Temperature: 3 C to 12 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 7 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: West