Since ancient times, stories of epic battles and mystical legends have been passed through the generations across the rugged and mysterious Highlands of Scotland. A new tale joins the lore when the courageous Merida confronts tradition and challenges destiny to change her fate.
The Story of Brave
Brave introduces a multitude of new characters to audiences, from the fiery teenage princess Merida to the murderous bear Mor’du. When Merida’s mother, the dignified and elegant Queen Elinor, is transformed into a bear, mother and daughter must work together to find a way to reverse the spell, all the while attempting to placate feuding lords and avoid the kingdom’s most renowned bear hunter—King Fergus himself.
Passionate and fiery, Merida is a headstrong teenager of royal upbringing who is struggling to take control of her own destiny. She feels most at home in the outdoors honing her impressive athletic skills as an archer and swordfighter, and racing across the magnificent Highland countryside with her faithful horse, Angus. With a spirit as vibrant as her untamed hair, Merida also has a softness of heart, especially when it comes to her wee triplet brothers.
A vision of grace, wisdom and strength of character, Queen Elinor is fiercely dedicated to the well being of her family and kingdom. As the measured, diplomatic counterpoint to her more impulsive husband, King Fergus, Elinor carries the weight of the kingdom on her shoulders in order to maintain the fragile peace between the volatile clans. Elinor strives to instill in Merida the knowledge and manner of a royal, expecting complete commitment to Elinor’s standards. But her vision of her daughter’s future is at odds with Merida’s rebellious spirit and desire to forge her own path, which ultimately causes Elinor to face calamitous consequences.
King Fergus is a heroic warrior with a majestic bear cape, broad sword and a knobby peg leg – the result of his much-regaled skirmish with the demon bear Mor’du. His vendetta against the beast who took his leg makes Fergus a ferocious and determined bear hunter, evidenced by a home full of mounted trophies of every size. Protector of his kingdom and family, Fergus has a heart as big as his triplet sons are mischievous, and boundless love for his wife, Queen Elinor. But his pride for his first-born daughter Merida is unmatched, and he has gifted her his great skill and passion for the sword and the bow.
Identical triplets Harris, Hubert and Hamish are adorable, redheaded, and always ready to stir up a bit of mischief, especially if sweets are at stake. They can communicate wordlessly with their sly smiles, subtle glances and rascally giggles. This troublemaking trio is particularly keen on sneaking through the secret passages of the castle, mysteriously appearing out of walls, and playing clever tricks on everyone, especially their father, King Fergus. They share an extra special bond with their big sister, Merida, who is among the few who can actually tell them apart.
At first, Queen Elinor is determined not to let her new, ursine form get in the way of her usual routines and manners. But she soon discovers that survival in the wild carries with it a different set of rules, and realizes she must look to her daughter for guidance in this new and
Black as night with an ivory muzzle and fetlocks, Angus is Merida’s powerful Clydesdale and her most trusted confidant. Angus is Merida’s escape from castle life into the deep forest and the highlands beyond. Merida target shoots from her perch on his broad back and is able to coax him into one adventure after another. Angus can be balky, stubborn and faint-hearted at times, but is ultimately a devoted and faithful friend
Deep in the overgrown Highland forest, a ramshackle blackhouse cottage is home to the Crafty Carver. This seemingly harmless, eccentric and long-in-the-tooth crone specializes in the whittling of wooden bear trinkets, figurines and curios. But the mysterious recluse is more than meets the eye. When Merida sees through the guise and reveals her as the Witch she truly is, Merida begs for a magical solution to her problems. The Witch begrudgingly gives in, conjuring a haphazard spell with an obscure riddle, which holds Merida’s fate in the balance.
The three lords of the kingdom – Dingwall, Macintosh and MacGuffin – are the unruly, overzealous leaders of their respective clans. Though once warring factions, they have been united under the sword of King Fergus and held together by the diplomacy and political savvy of Queen Elinor. The clans are summoned to Castle DunBroch to compete in the Highland Games, but the lords are soon outraged when Merida defies a sacred tradition. The clans fall back to their history of fervent feuding, which threatens the fragile peace of the entire kingdom.
The Stories of Scotland
The film’s setting in lush, wild Scotland was an essential source of inspiration. Recalls Director Mark Andrews, “We went to the highest part of Scotland and the lowest part of Scotland—and everything had a story.”
Castle DunBroch was deliberately designed to be almost part of the promontory on which it sits. “We didn’t want the castle to be a new castle,” says production designer Steve Pilcher. “No way! We wanted it to have been there a few hundred years before the film took place.”
Production designer Steve Pilcher says that the notoriously variable Highland weather was one of the most important elements to capture in order to convey the right sense of place. “Mist, rock, ruggedness, skies that are changing all the time with the rain, snow, big patches of sunlight moving over large landscapes…That’s what has to come across.”
Brave’s creative team made multiple trips to Scotland, determined to get the details just right. They returned with notebooks full of drawings and memories, and cameras filled with pictures—everything from majestic panoramas to careful studies of lichens and mosses.
The Standing Stones
Merida’s fate changes when will-o’-the-wisps lead her to a mysterious ring of ancient stones. The Standing Stones, which became the film’s visual anchor, were inspired by the real-life Callanish Stones on the Isle of Lewis in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides.