SF elements: be careful what you wish for
In a fantasy historical Scottish Highlands, Princess Merida has grown up as a skilled archer, encouraged by her bluff brave father King Fergus [Billy Connolly, clearly enjoying himself enormously], famous for his duel with the savage bear Mor'du, but chafing under some of the restrictions as her mother Queen Elinor [Emma Thompson] tries to make her into a proper lady. Merida never gave much thought to her future, until the day three rival clans gather, and demand she be wed to one of their firstborn sons. She demands that the contest for her hand be archery, and goes on to win it herself! But now her problems are only beginning, as the clans threaten to erupt into war over her choice, and she gets into a terrible conflict with her mother. She runs away and encounters a (very Disneyesque!) witch [Julie Walters, also having great fun], where she wishes for a potion to change her mother. Unfortunately, it doesn't change her mind, it changes her into a huge black bear. Now Merida's problems really start...
In this film, Pixar do the wide outdoors, and hair, and cloth, and hair, and Scottish music, and hair. Merida's tangled red locks feature heavily, as does stunning Highland scenery. After a while, caught up in the story, you tend to forget it's an animation, as most of the movement is very smooth (although the fact that puppeteers are in the credits explains some of the looser movements of the more comic characters). The bear animation is fun, as it is clear when Elinor is still herself, a human in bear form, and when she is truly a bear. (Since these people can make an anglepoise lamp have human characteristics, this should come as no surprise.) The tale is fast and furious, and quite dark in places. The ending is a tad saccharine, but has a suitable resolution.
Enjoy, for the story and the soundtrack, but also for the stunning animation.
reviewed 26 September 2012