Women are moving on up. Today Pixar released Brave, its 13th feature film which also happens to star its first woman protagonist. This is exciting news, because up until now, Pixar women were taking second billing to robots and rat chefs. Brave's young heroine is a princess by the name of Merida, and the film takes place in 10th century Scotland. It is predicted to debut this weekend with an estimated $65 million in ticket sales. This will be Pixar’s first foray into a film that seems more in tune with Disney “princess” movies. Although Merida does seem reminiscent of Pocahontas and Princess Jasmine, one can only hope that Pixar will throw a little of their own magic into the twist to create another hit. Brave brings to life some of the same movie elements we all know and love, even if it isn't destined to be the next Toy Story.
Pixar is well known for their irreplaceable storylines (like these), and their can’t be beat graphics; but animated movies were not always like this. We have to admire how much children’s animated movies have changed over time, not just in design, but also in content.
A full length animated movie used to take years to make, hundreds of staff, and a great deal of money. Artists would have to draw each frame in order to create the motions to beloved films like Snow White. Making an animated film now still takes quite a large staff, but now the staff is broken down into teams focusing on character design, colorscripts, sculpting, world building, creature creation, etc. Every item placed in a frame is carefully thought out, and there are no limits to what they can do. There are still frame drawings involved, but only in the initial stages of production. The final products are the vibrant colors, intricate details, and lively stories we all know and love from Pixar.
As time progresses, so does the content of children’s animated films. Old classics like Peter Pan or Bambi may be appropriate for the whole family, but that does not mean that they appeal to adults as well. (Although, I admit that I am guilty of watching them from time to time!) Films now have dialogue and jokes that sometimes fly right over the heads of the young ones, but not the adults. Small tweaks like these have made Pixar films, and most modern day animated films, such a success. Parents love taking their children to these films because they can enjoy them too.
You never know when a drunken Buzz Lightyear (Toy Story, 1995) will appear, or what hidden sexual innuendo might be lobbed your way. Some parents may think this is inappropriate, but I guarantee you, those jokes went right over my head when I was five. Now I can fully appreciate how subtly Pixar manages to engage parents while still entertaining the youth based fans.
Critics might think that Brave does not meet Pixar’s usual standards, but that should not disenchant anyone. Even if this is considered Pixar’s next big flop (Cars 2 was the first), it will still be enjoyed by many for its sweet story, great life lessons, and wonderful scenery of Scotland. Besides, who doesn’t like feeding their inner child from time to time?