Things had been a little quiet on the Disney front recently, other than the expected promo for Cars 2. Luckily Pixar stepped in yesterday to release the trailer (below) for their upcoming feature Brave, which follows the adventures of the Scottish princess Merida.
The film, which is set to be released in June 2012, credits Brenda Chapman as a writer, which is definitely a good sign as she was one of the writers on The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast.
The cast, meanwhile, reads like a Who’s Who of Harry Potter, featuring as it does the voice acting talents of Emma Thompson as Queen Elinor (Professor Trelawney in HP), Robbie Coltrane as Lord Dingwall (HP’s Hagrid) and Kelly Macdonald as Princess Merida herself (Kelly is playing Helena Ravenclaw in the last HP installment). Apparently Reese Witherspoon was originally set to play Merida until – thank G-d – scheduling conflicts intervened. Not that I have anything against Miss Witherspoon, but she doesn’t quite scream Scottish princess, really, does she? I’d like to think the sensible folks at Pixar put her down for the purposes of the funding applications and then scrambled like hell to ensure no matter how available her schedule was, there would be a ‘conflict’.
The movie marks quite a change for Pixar, being not only their first ‘princess’ movie but their first featuring a female protaganist. This may well be a deliberate move to appeal to a female audience but, this being Pixar, don’t hold your breath that Merida will be a typical Disney princess. For a start, her name comes from the Latin ’emeritus’ meaning a ‘veteran soldier’ and has its roots in the word ‘merit’ suggesting her journey will be one to prove her worth. My feeling is she will be more from the Eilonwy school of princess rather than the Sleeping Beauty one.
Although pretty much erased from the Disney canon, Eilonwy is the female protaganist in The Black Cauldron (1985) and she is a totally kick-ass princess, spending most of the film rescuing her hapless male companion. Like Merida she is of Celtic origin, is comfortable wielding swords and bows (see Brave concept art, below) and comes from a military royal lineage.
On a side note, Pixar are known for their in-depth research (when working on Up they risked life and limb to climb a mountain range in South America to get reference photos of ‘Paradise Falls’) and I have a feeling the team have visited Scotland recently. As well as Brave, they premiered a short, The Ballad of Nessie (pic below), at the start of the new Winnie the Pooh movie. It’s an absolutely gorgeous short, fictionalising the origins of Loch Ness and how the Loch Ness ‘monster’ ended up there. I should add that if you cry easily The Ballad of Nessie is not for you! It had my friend in tears by the end. Still not convinced? My friend is a doctor.