Being invited to the European premiere of the next Pixar film isn’t something that happens often and is unimaginatively exciting, but there we were, a group of four of us in Edinburgh on 30th June 2012 to see Brave. Suitably, I arrived in a kilt for the occassion. Upon arriving at the red carpet event, star spotting was essential, and spot a few stars we did, with an excellent turn-out of attendees, including the hilarious Craig Ferguson, and the extremely talented Kelly McDonald, Brian Cox and Robbie Coltrane. Even the fantastic composer of the film, Patrick Doyle, turned out for the event. Doyle has also done wonderful scores for films such as Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Thor, Hamlet and the animated film The Magic Sword: Quest for Camelot. Luckily, after the film itself, I was able to catch a word with actor Brian Cox, a very nice man indeed, in which I told him of MediCinema and how I had discovered it through illness. I also couldn’t resist telling him that one of my favourite movies was Rushmore, in which he starred. Needless to say, it is likely he was happy that someone remembers it. It was also a very incredible experience for the exceptional talent that is Julie Fowlis to sing her two songs written specially for the film on stage before the movie commenced. Also beforehand were some nice speeches from the likes of Mark Andrews, the director, and politician and current First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond.
Onto the movie itself, which I feel extremely fortunate to have seen a month before its general release in Scotland. Watching Brave for the first time, I was reminded strongly of how proud I truly am to be Scottish. Brave will make you roar with laughter, cry like a baby, and hold onto your seat in suspense. The main character, Merida the princess, is an extremely likeable and identifiable character and an audience is much more than happy to follow her journey through the film. The Scottish-themed music is unbelievable, with two remarkable songs, “Touch the Sky” and “Into the Open Air” with the outstanding and beautiful vocals of Julie Fowlis. Brave also suceeds by telling a traditional fairy tale with an abundance of meaning, which animated films sadly don’t tell anymore. While on the surface, Brave follows a princess desperate for her freedom and ends up turning her mother into a bear, it is really a love story about a mother and her daughter, the unbreakable bond between them and the braveness it really takes to admit how much a parent truly means to you. The story reminds us of how we may not recognise it very often, but our family do everything that they do for us because they love us.
Part of the strength of Brave comes from its excellent ensemble of Scottish actors to provide the voices for the film. Instead of taking the Water Horse route and going for English actors to fake Scottish accents, Pixar have gone to great lengths to make their film feel authentic, and it pays off. Excellent Scottish actors such as Billy Connolly, Craig Ferguson, Kelly McDonald, Emma Thompson, Kevin McKidd, Robbie Coltrane brilliantly voice the characters and provide them with such humanity and sincerity that we instantly love them. Even English Julie Walters provides a convincing Scottish accent for the funny witch. In addition, the language used is distinctly and authentically Scottish, with phrases such as “help ma boab”, “aye” and “jings”. All this adds to Brave not sticking to the stereotype, which is what we all love about Pixar – they take so much care with their movies, and Brave ends up as a film that feels distinctly Scottish without sticking to stereotyping. Much of the credit for that must go to Patrick Doyle and Julie Fowlis, whose music provides that certain Scottish feel and takes the film to a whole new emotional level.
The only small complaint that could be made about Brave is its similar storyline to the Disney film no one remembers called Brother Bear. Other than that, Brave is an almost flawless film, and will blow anyone who watches it away with its sincere story, likeable characters you don’t want to disappear after the film, and a portrayal of the Highlands of Scotland that creates an imaginary world you never want to leave. Anyone who is involved in the production of Brave should be very proud indeed of the masterpiece they have created. I could easily call Brave one of the best Pixar films ever produced, with its delicate balance of humour, heart and action.
Brave goes on general release on 2nd August in Scotland, and 17th August for the rest of the United Kingdom. To attend the European premiere of Brave with the stars of the movie is an experience I will not soon forget, and I am sure I will recount many times, as I genuinely believe that Brave will live forever in the hearts of the Scots and all others across the globe for its true portrayal of a beautiful country. Although most of us here in Scotland complain about our country, mainly due to our terrible weather conditions (constant rain, lack of sunshine even in summer), Brave has reminded me, and I’m sure many others, with a huge knock to the heart that I really could not wish to come from and live anywhere else in the world.