You will feel as mighty as a giant grizzly and stand 10 feet tall after experiencing Brave, an invigourating and skilfully crafted work of art from Disney-Pixar. This is animation at its most awesome and storytelling at its most compelling.
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, the courageous Merida (voice of Kelly Macdonald) confronts tradition and challenges destiny to change her fate.
Merida's actions inadvertently unleash chaos and fury in the kingdom, and when she turns to an eccentric witch (voice of Julie Walters) for help, she is granted an ill-fated wish. The ensuing peril forces Merida to harness all of her skills and resources - including her clever and mischievous triplet brothers - to undo a beastly curse before it's too late, and discover the meaning of true bravery.
With films like Brave, Disney-Pixar shows what the art of animation is all about.
It perfectly captures the essence and texture of life in meticulous detail; the vivid colours, spectacle and overwhelming sensory stimulation inspire the imagination to explode and offer an emotional experience.
The gust of image, sound and storytelling result in an unbelievable cinematic experience in which anything is possible and everything does indeed happen in the most surprising of ways.
It's an insightful and commanding coming-of-age story that draws you into the world of a princess who has everything anyone could ever wish for, except the freedom of identity, which is imprisoned by the traditions, ideals and culture she was raised in.
To break out of prisons we create for ourselves takes incredible courage - and this is where Brave really takes off. When Merida escapes from the confinement of her safety zone, we applaud her courage, but soon realise that her actions lead to temptations that test her humanity and pit her against the darkness of adversity.
The magic realism fully comes to life when fantasy and fairy-tale mythology collide.
Unexpected twists and surprising revelations
It would be sinful to reveal more of the delightful and enchanting story, filled with unexpected twists and surprising revelations. Just prepare yourself for an adventure you will never forget, one that is bold, imaginative and thrilling.
The humour in Brave is exceptional and really funny; the script is based on an original story by Brenda Chapman, who co-wrote and directed it with Mark Andrew, and also co-written by Steve Purcell and Irene Mecchi. The team of talented writers and directors have really pushed the art of collaboration to its most imaginative and daring, allowing the story to rule.
We need films like Brave to allow us not only to escape into the realm of make believe, but also for storytelling that is rich, powerful and significant, and has social relevance, no matter where you are from in the world.
Brave allows grown-ups to take an imaginative journey to the child within and leave with a sense of purpose, realising that it is possible to find answers to all our problems if only we let ourselves turn dreams into reality and sprinkle it with Disney-Pixar magic.
With each of its animation films, the artists at Pixar manage to exceed expectations and offer first-rate entertainment that is truly unforgettable. Brave is no exception, and is exceptional in every way.
A note: make sure to see the exceptional animated short La Luna that precedes Brave; it offers a perfect warm-up to a magical experience.
Win some fun Brave goodies: Three lucky readers can win a Brave messenger bag, a sticker pack, stationery set and Brave peaked cap. Read more about the competition at www.writingstudio.co.za/page1037.html
Behind the scenes
"Brave is about a teenager's struggle with finding herself, with creating her own destiny," said director Mark Andrews of Disney-Pixar's 13th full-length feature. "More specifically, it's about Merida's struggle in reconciling how the world sees her, versus how she sees herself. True courage must be found on the inside." Andrews and Brenda Chapman join the elite roster of Pixar directors - only five people before them have directed a Disney-Pixar feature. Said Andrews: "We're in very good company and surrounded by fantastic mentors; their wealth of experience was always ready at hand and helped me become a better filmmaker." Andrews, who brings a life-long passion for Scotland, Scottish history and action-adventure films to his role, served as story supervisor on the Oscar-winning animated features The Incredibles and Ratatouille. In bringing Brave to the big screen, Chapman, a long-established storyteller with credits including Beauty And The Beast and The Lion King, was inspired by her own relationship with her young daughter, as well as a love of Scotland.
Brave represents Pixar's most daring, sophisticated and complex feature film to date. It also establishes numerous firsts for a Pixar film. It is the studio's first film to feature a female protagonist, its first period piece in which historical references intersect with a fantasy world, and its first epic adventure set in a natural human world.
"I am so proud of this film for its beauty, its story, its drama, its humour and its action," said John Lasseter, chief creative officer of Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios and an executive producer of Brave. "It's a beautifully balanced film that just sweeps you away in this incredibly gorgeous world with these really entertaining characters. It's unlike anything you've ever seen. That's what we love to do at Pixar. We love to go to new worlds and present stories that you've never seen before. It's a tour de force of technology and artistry. There's great storytelling, humour and vocal performances."
Daniel Dercksen has been a film and theatre journalist in South Africa the past 30 years and as a trainer and educator has presented regular workshops in scriptwriting and creative writing during the past 17 years.
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