Brave is a 2012 American 3D CGI computer-animated adventure fantasy film produced by Pixar Animation Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Pictures. It was written by Mark Andrews, Steve Purcell, Brenda Chapman, and Irene Mecchi, and directed by Andrews and Chapman and co-directed by Purcell. The film's voice cast features Kelly Macdonald, Julie Walters, Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson, Kevin McKidd, Craig Ferguson, and Robbie Coltrane. To make the most complex visuals possible, Pixar completely rewrote their animation system for the first time in 25 years. It is the first film to use the Dolby Atmos sound format.
In the film, set in the Scottish Highlands during the Medieval period, a skilled archer named Merida defies an age-old custom, causing chaos in her kingdom and angering her mother, Elinor. After consulting a witch for help, Merida accidentally curses her mother and is forced to undo the spell herself before it is too late. Brave premiered on June 10, 2012, at the Seattle International Film Festival, and was released in North America on June 22, 2012, to both positive reviews and box office success. The film won the Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Feature Film and won the BAFTA Award for Best Animated Film. The (controversially) film won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film up against other Disney films such as Wreck-It Ralph and Frankenweenie.
Preceding the film is a short film entitled La Luna, directed by Enrico Casarosa.
All Princess Merida wants to do is ride off on Angus, her horse, shoot her bow and be as wild and free as her fiery red hair. However, her mother Elinor has entirely different ideas. After it goes too far and Merida defies an ancient custom, she decides to change her fate... which leads to a terrifying adventure.
The movie takes place in Scotland during the 10th century. Princess Merida is an incredibly skilled archer and princess living in the Scottish kingdom of DunBroch with her mother, Queen Elinor, and her father, King Fergus. On Merida's sixth birthday, King Fergus gives Merida a short bow and arrow as a birthday present. After retrieving an arrow accidentally fired into the woods, where Merida sees some Will o' the Wisps, Merida's family are attacked by an ancient bear, Mor'du. Elinor and Merida flee, while Fergus stays to battle the bear. The story cuts to about ten years later, when we learn that Fergus lost his left leg during the battle with Mor'du and has vowed to find Mor'du again and avenge his leg.
Ten years later, despite Elinor's intention of having sixteen-year-old Merida become a proper, royal, ladylike princess, Merida is determined to seek freedom and live her own life. One day, Lords Macintosh, MacGuffin, and Dingwall present their sons to marry Merida. After an argument, all three armies get into a brawl, which Elinor stops. She states that the challenge which the first-born of each clan would compete in would be decided by the fair maiden. Merida, hearing this, believes that the idea of the contestants being first-born is a loophole, so Merida chooses archery. The first two contestants lack skill, and Lord Dingwall's son wins by fortunate mishap. But then Merida steps forward with her bow and claims that she represents her clan as first-born and will be shooting to claim herself. She shoots the three bull's-eyes over Elinor's objections, splitting Dingwall's son's arrow, supposedly winning the contest.
Merida and Elinor have a falling out, with Elinor claiming that Merida will still have to choose a suitor. Merida slashes the family tapestry in anger and Elinor throws Merida's bow into the fireplace. Merida runs away on her horse in tears as Elinor quickly retrieves the bow from the fire in regret. Merida again comes across Will O' the Wisps, small blue fairies that are said to lead you to your fate. Merida follows a trail of them to an old hut, where she finds a witch who claims she is nothing but a woodcarver because her last customers had some objections to her spells. The witch says she won't help Merida unless she buys a wood carving; in response, Merida buys the lot, trading for a necklace, but says she wants a spell that will change her fate as well. Merida asks for a spell that would change her mother, which she assumes will change her fate. The witch conjures a tart for Merida to give to her mother. On Merida's way out, the witch thinks she forgot to tell Merida something about the spell, but she and her cottage disappear when Merida turns around to ask what the witch was saying.
Back in DunBroch, Fergus is entertaining the lords, while Merida finds Elinor who was worried. After a brief conversation, Merida presents the tart to her mother, who takes a bite and immediately feels sick. Merida takes Elinor up to her room, where she rolls off her bed and Merida discovers that her mother has transformed into a bear. Fergus, downstairs in the hall, smells a bear, and he leads the lords upstairs. Merida and Elinor, with the help of her the young princes Harris, Hubert, and Hamish manage to escape the castle without Fergus finding them, and she and her mother retreat into the forest back to the witches cottage. The witch isn't present, but there is a cauldron where the witch appears and has left a cryptic message for Merida. She tells Merida that by the second sunrise the spell would be permanent unless Merida can repair a bond. Merida and her mother exit the cottage and find shelter for the night, wondering how they'll be able to fix the curse.
In the morning, Elinor has set out a breakfast of some found berries, which turn out to be poisonous, and some dirty water. Merida finds a river and takes the time to teach her mother how to catch fish. The two bond, seeing different sides of each other. While in the forest, Elinor suddenly acts as if she's about to attack Merida, but soon recovers as Merida remarks that her mother is turning into a true bear. They then come across some wisps and are lead to the ruins of an old castle. Merida falls down a pit into an old throne room which she realizes is the palace of the four brothers from Elinor's story. She finds an old stone engraved with the four brothers, but finds a part with a brother had been cut off, as when Merida had cut the tapestry of her own family earlier. She realizes that the curse has happened before and that the brother who'd gone on his own path is now Mor'du. Then Merida is attacked by Mor'du who lives in the ruins, but with the help of her mother, she escapes.
Merida realizes Elinor will become just like Mor'du, like a real bear, if they don't break the spell. They travel back to DunBroch to sew the family tapestry back together, thinking that will break the spell. To get Elinor upstairs without being seen, Merida distracts her father and the lords who are fighting and thinking of starting a war on each other. From the back fo the room, unseen, Bear Elinor uses makeshift sign language to help Merida give a speech that brings the kingdoms back together, in which she states that her mother had rewritten the ways of the kingdoms, that the sons could marry whoever they wanted. Everyone rejoices and travels outside, leaving Merida and Elinor to make it up to the tapestry room. While trying to sew the tapestry, Fergus goes into his room and finds Elinor's ripped clothes and broken bed when she'd turned into a bear. Fergus, believing Elinor has been murdered, bursts into the tapestry room to tell Merida the news and finds Merida and Bear Elinor. Elinor assumes the disposition of a bear and fights with Fergus.
Merida tries to convince Fergus that the bear is his wife, Elinor, but Fergus says Merida is talking nonsense and locks her in the tapestry room to protect her. Fergus then sets off with the lords to capture Elinor, while Merida is stuck in the tapestry room. Then she finds that her younger brothers have also been turned into bear cubs from taking bites of the tart. Merida asks them to retrieve the key from their nursemaid Maudie, who has the key. The three retrieve the key and free their sister.
All four ride on Angus while Merida sews the tapestry. They follow wisps to where Fergus has captured Elinor and tied her up. Fergus attempts to slay the bear, but Merida defends Elinor by fighting off Fergus, who still doesn't believe Merida. Then Mor'du encounters Merida and fights off Fergus and all the other soldiers who attempt to kill him. He then lunges for Merida but is fought off by Elinor who breaks free of the ropes. Mor'du and Elinor duel each other until Elinor smashes Mor'du into a rock, but wounds Elinor in the process. Mor'du gets up and is about to attack Merida when a standing stone falls on top of him and he dies. Merida sees a wisp emerge from Mor'du's body; it appears as the brother that had become the bear before fading away.
Then Merida rushes over to Elinor and puts the sewn tapestry on top of the bear. When the sun rises and Elinor doesn't turn back into human form, Merida throws herself around Elinor and reconciles, apologizing for what she had done and tells her mother that she loves her. When the sun is up, Merida finds that Elinor is back in human form, and they both hug. the family and everyone rejoice. The clans settle their arguments and they go their separate ways. Meanwhile, Merida and Elinor ride out on their horses around Scotland, making their mother-daughter bond even stronger.
In the post-credits scene, the witch's crow and magic broom deliver the wood carvings to the castle, asking a stunned guard to sign the delivery note.
- Merida (Kelly Macdonald)
- Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson)
- King Fergus (Billy Connolly)
- The Witch (Julie Walters)
- MacGuffin / Young MacGuffin (Kevin McKidd)
- Macintosh (Craig Ferguson)
- Dingwall (Robbie Coltrane)
- Young Macintosh (Steven Cree)
- Wee Dingwall (Callurn O'Neill)
- Young Merida (Peigi Barker)
- Maudie (Sally Kinghorn) and (Eilidh Fraser)
- The Crow (Steve Purcell)
- Gordon (John Ratzenberger)
- Martin (Patrick Doyle)
- Touch the Sky
- Song of Mor'du
- Noble Maiden Fair
- Into the Open Air
- Learn Me Right
- It is the first Pixar film to have a Disney Princess.
- The credits give a special thanks to Steve Jobs for helping them create Pixar, as he died of cancer the last year.