Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Brave / Rebelle by / par Mark Andrews /Brenda Chapman

 'Brave' moves beyond the bold...  brazenness at its best!

                                                    {Reviewed by Nancy Snipper}

 There is nothing quite like seeing a fantastic Pixar animated film inside Ottawa's Empire Theatres Cinema, Rideau Centre; it is a great setting for this film - one that will rock you off your seat. In fact, you'll feel your back rocking into theater's comfy seats because of the movable seat-back feature that emulates a rocking chair feel.  I was either biting my nails at the scary parts, or laughing like a lunatic at the cleverest of scenes with dialogue to match. Brimming with wit, stunning beauty and suspense, the film is a treasure to behold. I opted for the 3D version of seeing it all unfold before my eyes. It all seemed so real.
Magic, might and malevolence send a message of their own in this film. Set in eleventh-century Scotland, the film is a pictorial masterpiece. The two directors Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman along with Pixar artists went to Scotland twice to study the landscape in great detail, so that the landscape, music and culture would be created in the film. In all, over 350 paintings of leaves, brush and moss went into the making of the film. There were 111,394 storyboards, not to mention that 111,700 individual hairs, styled into 1,500 curly locks on our bravest of heroines.
The story is original for Pixar and has its dark side, despite the heroine's flaming long curly red tresses that trundle down over her shoulders. Her name is Merida, and she shoots a mean arrow anywhere. The bow was given to her when she was a wee lass by Fergus, her über-stocky Scottish dad who is actually King of the DunBroch clan. Barely reaching his waist is his pretty perfectionist wife, Queen Elinor. Fergus lost part of his leg in a bear attack. That evil bear, called Mor'du reappears at the end of the film. We discover he is in fact the wayward leader who left the other three clan leaders to try to make it on his own as leader of all of Scotland. His ambition brought him into contact with a witch who changed him into the bear we see on the screen - an all powerful one that eventually meets his match in Elinor. The plot unravels with complications, but here it is: Merida despises the fact her mother has groomed her for marriage. A fight ensues when the sons of the three clansmen (Dingwall, Macintosh and MacGuffin) vie for her hand showing off their might and utter macho silliness. This part of the film is hysterical: the men's behavior is more Neolithic. They are dunderheads. Their feats of strength do not impress Princess Merida. She shudders at the thought of having to give up her independence for one of these dolts. The way the clansmen show their affection for one another by beating each other up. Of course the Highland games show their prowess, but it is Merida who shoots the best arrow of them all, and since it was declared the first-born can vie for her, she wins the match - so to speak. She refuses all three of her suitors and takes off on her horse, ripping the tapestry of her family in front of her mother who is fuming about Merida’s stubbornness to stay single and refuting marriage.

 Will-o-the-wisps lead her to the very witch who was responsible for making Mor'du into a bear. She asks the witch to change her mother, but she did not expect her mother to become a bear. It is a fight to the finish to find a way to get her mom back again, and as it looks like Queen Elinor will face ‘bearhood' for the rest of her life, but magic takes place. Still Mor’du reappears and things begin to 'bear down' on everyone.
Without giving away the ending, I must say that I was crying when daughter and mother are reunited in a novel setting in a momentous and moving, if not suspenseful event.
The film explores the deep conflicts that can happen between and mother and daughter and this is very unusual for a Pixar work. The movie is meaty, magnificent and should be seen over and over again. After all, how many of us are capable of capturing, even with our 3D glasses the thousands of details and hundreds of characters that appear in this wondrously memorable film. 'Brave' is a powerful piece of remarkable cinematic genius. It combines a new kind of genre: a comedy of errors with tragic overtones.
'Brave's’ music employed dozens of authentic Scottish instruments and styles of music with dances, including reels and jigs - all  in Dolby Atmos sound - a first for Pixar. I just wish 'Brave' didn't have to end!