This latest animated film from Pixar is set in a land that, although never named as such, is inspired by the highlands and islands of Scotland in centuries gone by. As a Scot myself, I approached the film with trepidation, wondering whether I’d be put off by a string of cultural clichés and stereotypes, but I needn’t have worried – the film was great!
The film’s protagonist is Princess Merida, the impetuous and independent daughter of King Fergus. She is none too pleased at her impending betrothal to whichever son of the other clan chiefs does best at the games at the next gathering of the clans. She has several blazing rows with her mother, who councils Merida to accept her duty, then formulates a plan to win the right to rule her own destiny and when that backfires she runs away. As night falls, she comes across the will o’ the wisp lights leading her from a stone circle to a witch’s cottage. Believing a spell could change her mother’s mind, Merida strikes a deal with the witch, but the magic cake she brings back to her mother changes not her mother’s mind but her physical form!
Merida is a feisty red-head, quick with a bow and with a mind of her own. The film explores the conflicts of duty versus freedom and mother versus daughter. However the resolution of these conflicts was rather contrived, I thought, and the film had little new to say to the adult viewer. For its target audience, though, it is well matched.
The voices for the animated characters are well chosen, really adding character to them. Billy Connolly – speaking the part of King Fergus – was excellent.
Comedy relief is provided by Merida’s three young brothers who career through the film, leaving chaos in their trail but who are also staunch allies, helping Merida when she needs it.
The animation was great, though in shots when the camera panned across the scene quickly (the opening scenes across the landscape for example) the background did seem to judder and was uncomfortable on the eye. Whether that was the actual animation rendering or just the projection in the cinema I saw it in, I can’t say, and I didn’t notice the problem for the remainder of the film.
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed the film and would rate it 5 stars out of 5.