Disney’s Brave | Interview with Mark Andrews

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Disney’s Brave
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I watched Disney’s Brave twice because I really enjoyed it. The opening scene is one of my favorite parts, and every time I watch it I’m always surprised and blown away.

The director and screenwriter of Disney’s Brave, Mark Andrews, took the time to answer some questions about the film, check them out below, and don’t forget to buy or rent a copy of the film this week and watch it with the family.

An interview with Mark Andrews (Director/Screenwriter)

What is “Brave” about?

In a nutshell, “Brave” is about a young woman named Merida and her struggle to find herself—to reconcile how the world sees her with how she sees herself. The most important thing to Merida is her bow and her horse and the free time that comes with them. So she’s a phenomenal archer. She loves to be outside racing around the Scottish countryside on her horse Angus.

Merida’s relationship with her mother, Queen Elinor, is broken. They have their differences about what’s expected of Merida and the responsibilities that come with growing up. It’s all about changing your fate. And Merida—feeling the constraints of castle life tightening around her—desperately wants to change hers.

The main theme is being brave, finding the courage to let go. Merida is a very brave character—she climbs cliffs, shoots arrows, fights bears—but it’s really that bravery of the heart that’s the hardest.

Can you relate to the film’s family themes?

I have a daughter and three sons, just like Fergus and Elinor. It’s a parent-child relationship that’s at the core of this film—mothers and daughters or dads and sons, it doesn’t matter.

The future doesn’t mean anything to any teenager, especially to Merida. There’s a chemical thing in teenagers to fight back—they want to figure out the world for themselves. [They] are burgeoning, becoming the adults they’re going to be and that’s the really chaotic transition that’s all through this movie.

I was a kid, so I get the other side, too, when you just want to be left alone and find out the answers for yourself. A great truth of the universe is that no matter how much we as parents advise or help our children, they’ve got to make their own mistakes just like we did. And we have to suffer through the pain all over again watching them do it.

What makes the movie special?

In “Brave,” we’re really pushing the envelope in terms of cinematography, lighting and photography. We found new ways to create texture and took human characters to the next level. The movie has unprecedented subtlety in its performances.

This film is very rich—it’s very tactile. The thing about “Brave” is that you want to reach out and touch it, you want to feel everything in the movie from their gowns and kilts to the big red mess of curls on Merida’s head. That’s what brings a special kind of warmth—a personal connection—to the big screen.

When audiences go to “Brave,” they’re going to get this great, emotional, character piece about this parent/child relationship, and they’re also going to get a great adventure. They get to travel to Scotland and see magic like they’ve never seen before. There’s comedy, passion and wonderful characters. It’s a fantastic ride.

Who is Elinor?

Elinor is a Queen, bar none. She is the ultimate authority, she’s the diplomat, she’s the lawmaker. She handles everything in the castle from planning the feasts, to entertaining guests, to setting all the rules. She’s doing what she feels is the right motherly thing in her efforts to prepare Merida as well as she can for the future, but she doesn’t realize it’s at the expense of their mother-daughter relationship.

Who is Fergus?

Fergus is this immense Highland warrior—the kind of guy who wears a bear cloak. He’s loud and boisterous, kind of like me, and full of guts and wisdom. He lost his leg to the demon bear Mor’du and will tell the tale to anyone whether they’ve heard it or not.


I have a great affinity for Fergus because I’m just a big kid. He’s gregarious and open and there’s no rules for him, which puts him on a very different level than Elinor, who’s actually running the kingdom.

When it comes to his daughter, his wife and his little boys, there’s also this soft side to Fergus. He is a great dad, he’s fun to be around and he tells the kids stories and plays with them. Merida’s relationship with King Fergus is a special one. They’re really close as father and daughter; they’re very similar. Merida’s very brave and speaks her mind and is loud like Fergus. They both have red hair and would never shy away from a fight. They both like to tell stories.

Who are the Lords?

The Lords are the leaders of the neighboring clans. They don’t like each other, but they pretend to like each other in front of Fergus and Elinor. They’ll brawl at the drop of a hat and it’s up to Fergus to settle them all down—though he’s more inclined to join the fight himself.

The Lords

Lord Macintosh is a skinny guy with curly hair and a big blue painted tattoo on his face. He’s very surly, and becomes an aggressive pit-bull at the blink of an eye. His son has long flowing locks and a temper that makes him quick to fly off the handle just like his dad.

Lord MacGuffin is huge—a descendant of the Vikings. His eyes are hidden beneath heavy brows and his voice comes out like a big thunderclap. His son is just like MacGuffin, but with a baby face and he speaks a dialect that’s impossible to understand.

Then you have Dingwall, who’s the shortest, oldest and most haggard of the lords, but he was fearsome in his time. He’s like that cantankerous old guy who sits on his porch and yells at the neighborhood kids, “get off my lawn!” That’s Dingwall. Wee Dingwall is his guileless and awkward son.

Who are the triplets?

[The triplets] run around the castle, causing all matters of chaos and getting into trouble. They’re constantly a plague to their nanny, stealing all her sweets and escaping scot-free through some nook or cranny in the castle. They play practical jokes on Fergus—and anyone else they can find.


What are the will o’ the wisps?

The will o’ the wisps are in a lot of Scottish folklore. They were said to lead you to treasure or doom—to change your fate—but they’re an actual phenomenon of swamp and bog gas seeping up through the earth and interacting with the natural resources to create the blue flames. People would follow these lights thinking they were little fairies, and basically drown or get sucked down into the bogs. [So] we made the wisps like actual little spirits.

They appear when Merida needs them most—when she’s in an intense emotional state and a big transition is going to happen. Merida has a big argument with her mother and she gets on Angus and rides out into the woods. They end up in a ring of these giant, monolithic stones that form a perfect circle. It’s in that circle that Merida first sees the will o’ the wisps—these blue mythical creatures that look like little floating flames and whisper in this mesmerizing way. They line up like little landing lights and beckon her to follow.

They’re almost like Marley’s ghost in a way, because Marley’s ghost isn’t an evil spirit—even though he’s frightening, he’s trying to warn Ebenezer to change his ways. That’s what the wisps are doing. There’s a duality to them, because they’re either good or evil—they lead Merida into more and more trouble, but in the end, they’ve led her exactly where she needs to go.

Who’s the Witch?

She’s this little old hippie grandma who does wood carvings—all bear-themed carvings—rocking chairs, mugs, pipes. She’s really a witch who gave up witchcraft because of too many unsatisfied customers. Merida gets her over a barrel and insists on a spell to change her mom so she can change her fate, because she thinks her mom is the only obstacle. Of course it goes, terribly, terribly wrong.

Who’s brave in “Brave”?

Merida is very brave, Elinor and Fergus are brave, the triplets are even brave. There’s a lot of great action that shows courage in a traditional way. But I think the bravest people are the ones who own up to their mistakes and face what they don’t want to face.

In Merida’s case, it’s about accepting this life that she needs to face. She has duties and there are expectations of her that keep the kingdom at peace. So for her to be truly brave, she’ll have to assume responsibility and admit that she was wrong. That’s not easy!

How does “Brave” fit into the Pixar roster?

“Brave” fits perfectly within the cannon of Pixar films because every Pixar film is different. From superheroes to rats that can cook, to an old guy, bugs, fish, talking toys and robots. That’s why I love Pixar. I can honestly say “Brave” is unique—just like every other Pixar film.

SOURCE: Disney’s Pixar
IMAGE SOURCE: Disney’s Pixar

Please note: A complimentary copy of Disney’s Brave Blu-ray/DVD/Digital combo pack was received by the PR/Marketing agency for this post. However, this did not affect the views expressed on this post.

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