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terça-feira, 22 de dezembro de 2015
Brave, review: 'bewitching'
There's a bewitching craftsmanship to Pixar film Brave's storytelling and 3D visuals, writes Robbie Collin.
Princess Merida, star of Pixar’s new animated film Brave, would be a model member of Team GB. The tousled heiress to the throne of Dunbroch could be a composite of some of its more successful members: the grit and gumption of Mo Farah; the winsome, ruffle-edged charm of Jessica Ennis; the smouldering strawberry-blonde locks of Greg Rutherford. Her skills in archery are the finest in all of Scotland, and she could even give the South Koreans a run for their money.
For 17 years now, Pixar has been producing tales of talking toys, balloon-borne widowers and rodents in the gutter gazing at the Michelin stars, but with their latest film, the studio has moved from fables to folk tales. Brash, boisterous and uninterested in her teenage suitors, Merida has less in common with her Disney Princess forebears than the sullen young heroines of Japan’s master animator, Hayao Miyazaki.
It was Miyazaki’s 2001 Spirited Away that won him an Academy Award and the attention of Western cinemagoers, and that film’s story of a 10-year-old girl whose parents are transmogrified into giant pigs is a major influence on Mark Andrews’ and Brenda Chapman’s picture.
While Brave lacks the sheer kaleidoscopic wonderment of Miyazaki’s work and can’t match the drumskin tightness of Pixar’s own Ratatouille and Toy Stories, there’s a bewitching craftsmanship to both its storytelling and 3D visuals that few animation studios could match.
Merida (voiced by Kelly MacDonald) has come of age, and her parents, King Fergus (Billy Connolly) and Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson), stage a grand tournament to find her a husband. Never mind that she’s handier with a bow and arrow than any man in the kingdom: doing her duty, Queen Elinor insists, is non-negotiable. Merida flees into the forest, where a log-whittling crone (the spit of Spirited Away’s Yubaba) offers her a charmed cake that will “make the Queen change”. Inevitably, it does just that, triggering a curse that both daughter and mother — in her new, shaggier, snufflier, ursine form — must work together to dispel.
Brave’s plot seems to have percolated through the iron mountains and tangled forests it plays out against: this feels like a story passed down from the early days of an ancient nation, thereby making the kilts and Patrick Doyle’s rousing Celtic score feel like more than tartan window dressing. (“Discover the land that inspired Disney-Pixar’s Brave,” runs the slogan to a recent VisitScotland campaign.)The depth of Pixar’s fieldwork is revealed in the details, from visual references to the Lewis chessmen and Orcadian stone circles to a running gag about the Doric accent performed, with authentic incomprehensibility, by Kevin McKidd, who grew up in Elgin.“Legends are lessons, they rhyme with truths,” Queen Elinor says early in the film as she sits down to tell her daughter a story, and Brave is as true as an arrow whistling straight towards the centre of its target.