Directors Mark Andrews & Brenda Chapman Interview For Pixar’s ‘Brave’
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,’ a new tale joins the lore when the courageous Merida (voice of Kelly Macdonald) confronts tradition, destiny and the fiercest of beasts. Merida is a skilled archer and impetuous daughter of King Fergus (voice of Billy Connolly) and Queen Elinor (voice of Emma Thompson). Determined to carve her own path in life, Merida defies an age-old custom sacred to the uproarious lords of the land: massive Lord MacGuffin (voice of Kevin McKidd), surly Lord Macintosh (voice of Craig Ferguson) and cantankerous Lord Dingwall (voice of Robbie Coltrane). Merida’s actions inadvertently unleash chaos and fury in the kingdom, and when she turns to an eccentric old Witch (voice of Julie Walters) for help, she is granted an ill-fated wish. The ensuing peril forces Merida to discover the meaning of true bravery in order to undo a beastly curse before it’s too late. Directed by Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman, Pixar’s ’Brave’ arrives in cinemas June 22nd in the US and August 17th in the UK.
Pixar are known for making visually stunning and hugely entertaining films for kids and adults alike. Plus, there’s always relatable themes at the core of their films…..
Mark Andrews: Yeah. ‘Brave’ is about, in a nutshell, a child’s struggle with finding them-self. More specifically, their struggle with reconciling how the world sees them, versus how they see them-self. The true definition of “bravery”, I believe, is looking inside yourself and finding the answer. Because it’s not going to be one or the other, it’s going to be something kind of combined and new and different. If you can face that and accept that, that’s what being brave is actually about.
Merida, the fiery, passionate, headstrong protagonist of ‘Brave.’ Can you tell us a little about what people can expect from her?
Mark Andrews: Sure. Merida is our teenage heroin. She has all the teenage angst that a teenager would have. She is, just by circumstance, a Princess in this Kingdom. So she finds herself having responsibilities that normal teenagers don’t normally have. But I think….like those of us who can remember being a teenager, I can remember when I had to mow the lawn, or do chores – and I didn’t want those responsibilities (laughs). I just wanted to go out and have fun with my friends and explore. It’s that time in youth when we’re just on the cusp of being an adult, and Merida is on that cusp of being an adult. She doesn’t know who she is exactly yet, she wants that time to find out.
Brenda Chapman: Merida is everything that’s passionate and stubborn and wilful and charming and funny, everything great about all of the negative and everything negative about all of the great (laughs). She just is who she is, she has a strong sense of self.
With the responsibilities and expectations of being the daughter of the King and Queen, Merida wants her freedom and independence?
Mark Andrews: Yeah. Merida’s issue is that she’s of age to marry into one of the other Clans to keep this alliance, keep the strength of the Kingdom intact. To prevent it from breaking apart and going its separate ways, in a sense, becoming weaker groups. Together you were stronger, especially in case of invaders or if trouble came. So, one of the rules of the time, of the middle ages, was you would marry your children to other Clans or other Kingdoms, to keep the alliances. It was a sort of uneasy alliance. Also, I wouldn’t dare attack you if you had my daughter, or break the treaty, and you wouldn’t dare attack me if I had your son. So, in ‘Brave,’ in come the Lords Macintosh, MacGuffin and Dingwall, they are arriving to bring their sons to vie for the hand of Princess Merida.
The Scottish landscape in ‘Brave’ is sort of a character in itself….
Brenda Chapman: Scotland, to me, brings so much to the film, in that it’s this incredibly, beautiful, rugged country. And the people are really spunky and tough (laughs). So there’s a character to Scotland that you don’t find in a lot of other countries. But visually it’s rocky and hard and harsh, but yet, the weather is kind of tropical in a sense. It’s always wet so there’s always something growing on everything; these big pillows of liken and moss. It softens the whole place, you’ve got this contrast of rugged and soft. I’ve always said that Scotland feels like a woman to me. It’s soft on top but really made of tougher stuff underneath.
That definitely lends itself to the look of the film….
Brenda Chapman: Oh definitely. The look of the world is rugged Scotland. We didn’t want to do an extra polished and pristine castle. We’ve seen that and it’s beautiful in ‘Sleeping Beauty’ and those kinds of things. But we wanted a really earth sense, you know? We’re building up a folk tale and I wanted to have it feel sort of folksy. I remember my production designer, Steve Pilcher, he asked me what I wanted to feel, how would I describe this castle if I looked at it. I couldn’t think of a word so I just went “urgggggghhhhhhhh, mhhhhhhhhmmmmmm,” like a grunt (laughs). That’s what it needed to be. Just from the earth.
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