Scotland's Pixar tale hits the right note

IT ALREADY boasts a stellar line-up of Scottish acting talent and is tipped to follow the success of Braveheart in drawing in film tourist pounds.

Now Brave, the forthcoming 3D animated adventure story set in ancient Scotland and made by the team behind hits such as Toy Story and The Incredibles, has lured one of the country's leading film composers to craft its soundtrack.

Patrick Doyle, the award-winning writer of soundtracks from Henry V to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, will compose the score for the Pixar animation company's foray into the Highlands, The Scotsman has learned.

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It adds to a formidable array of Scottish talent already involved in the production.

The 58-year-old Glaswegian composer, who has worked on 45 feature films, has already penned a drinking song for Billy Connolly, who is voicing the film's Scottish king. "It sounds great," Doyle said. "I've known Billy on and off for years. Our paths have crossed many times, and he's very musical."

The project is "very much work in progress", and Doyle has yet to see the finished film, with its story of a feisty, red-haired Scottish princess. But his research has included trips to the Hebrides to listen to unaccompanied Gaelic psalm singing, and he has played recordings of the haunting sound to the film's producers. "It's revisiting what I've heard all my days," he said.

Brave has a Hollywood plot that sees Princess Merida, voiced by Kelly Macdonald, as an impetuous, archery-loving young woman who clashes with her parents, King Fergus and Queen Elinor, voiced by Connolly and Emma Thompson. Merida's path to womanhood sees her defy ancient customs cherished by grumpy tradition-bound lairds voiced by Kevin McKidd, Craig Ferguson and Robbie Coltrane.

Her magical mishaps include turning her mother into a bear.

Over six years of production work, teams of Pixar researchers and artists have been scouring the Scottish countryside to catch the accents, scenery - and even midges.

Doyle trained at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. His early stage work with Kenneth Branagh led to his writing the score for Henry V, including its award-winning closing hymn, Non Nobis Domine.

Later projects have run from Bridget Jones's Diary and Sense and Sensibility to the recent comic-book adaptation Thor, directed by Branagh.

In Tenerife for a concert of music from his films, Doyle said he hoped to give Brave's music a distinctly Scottish twist, but he will wait to hear what the directors want - and is wary of using bagpipes.

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"I want to make it accessible but to honour the Celtic traditions if I can," he said. "It's a real fable set in Scotland. I could possibly use the bagpipes as a drone or something that gives atmosphere, but I will resist instantly using them until I see what's going on … they are extremely loud." The film is directed by Mark Andrews, the man behind The Incredibles, who was inspired to set it in Scotland after he honeymooned here with his wife. The story was created by co-director Brenda Chapman, who has worked on the likes of The Little Mermaid and The Prince of Egypt.

A "teaser trailer" for Brave is available online, with a taster of Doyle's music. The composer, who has homes in Hollywood and Glasgow, recalled yesterday how the first film he went to see alone, at the age of 14, was Disney's Fantasia, in the Cosmo cinema, which is now home to the Glasgow Film Theatre. "I've always been a massive fan of animation," he said.

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