Brave is a 2012 American computer-animated fantasy film produced by Pixar Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures. It was directed by Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman, and co-directed by Steve Purcell. The story is by Chapman, with the screenplay by Andrews, Purcell, Chapman and Irene Mecchi. Chapman drew inspiration from her relationship with her own daughter. Chapman became Pixar’s first female director of a feature-length film. The film was produced by Katherine Sarafian, with John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Pete Docter as executive producers. The film's voice cast features Kelly Macdonald, Julie Walters, Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson, Kevin McKidd, Craig Ferguson, and Robbie Coltrane. To create the most complex visuals possible, Pixar completely rewrote their animation system for the first time in 25 years. It is the first film to use the Dolby Atmos sound format.
Set in the Scottish Highlands, the film tells the story of a princess named Merida who defies an age-old custom, causing chaos in the kingdom by expressing the desire to not be betrothed. After consulting a witch for help, Merida accidentally transforms her mother into a bear and is forced to undo the spell herself before it is too late. Brave premiered on June 10, 2012, at the Seattle International Film Festival, and was released in North America on June 22, 2012, to both positive reviews and box office success. The film won the Academy Award for Best Animated Film, and the BAFTA Award for Best Animated Film.
A child princess named Merida of the clan Dunbroch is given a bow and arrows by her father, King Fergus, for her birthday. Her mother, Queen Elinor, is dismayed. While venturing into the woods to fetch a stray arrow, Merida encounters a will-o'-the-wisp. Soon afterwards, Mor'du, a huge demon-bear, attacks the family. Merida escapes on horseback with Elinor, while Fergus fights off Mor'du at the cost of his left leg.
Later a free-spirited and headstrong young woman, Merida is dissatisfied to learn that she will be betrothed to the son of one her father's allies. Reminding Merida of a legend of a prince whose pride and refusal to follow his father's wishes destroyed his kingdom, Elinor warns her that failure to consent to the betrothal could harm Dunbroch.
The allied clan chieftains arrive with their first-born sons to compete in the Highland Games for Merida's hand in marriage. Merida twists the rules, announcing that she is eligible to compete for her own hand as the first-born of Clan Dunbroch. She defeats each of her suitors in an archery contest, shaming the other clans and leading to an argument with Elinor. After storming out, she follows the wisps to the hut of an elderly witch. Merida bargains with the witch, and receives an enchanted cake that will change her fate.
The cake transforms Elinor into a black bear. Merida returns to the witch's cottage with Elinor, who still retains most of her human personality. The witch has abandoned the cottage but left a message: unless Merida is able to "mend the bond torn by pride" before the second sunrise, the spell will become permanent. Merida and Elinor are led by the wisps to ancient ruins, where they encounter Mor'du. Merida discovers that he was once the power-mad prince in the legend, transformed by a similar spell. Merida vows to her mother that she will not let her become a wild animal like Mor'du. She believes that she can reverse the spell by repairing a tapestry she damaged during their argument.
The clans are on the verge of war. Having learned the importance of responsibility from her experience with her mother, Merida intends to declare herself ready to choose a suitor as tradition demands. However, with silent encouragement from Elinor, she instead insists that the first-born should be allowed to marry in their own time to whomever they choose. The clans agree, breaking tradition but renewing and strengthening their alliance. Merida sneaks into the tapestry room with Elinor. Elinor, who is losing her humanity, attacks Fergus, but suddenly regains her composure and flees the castle. Mistaking the queen for Mor'du, Fergus pursues the bear with the other clans. With the help of her triplet brothers, who have been transformed by the enchanted cake into bear cubs, Merida repairs the torn tapestry while riding after her father. The clans and Fergus capture Elinor, but Merida intervenes. Mor'du appears and attacks. Mor'du scatters the clan warriors and targets Merida. Elinor intercedes, using her bear strength to hold off Mor'du until he is crushed by a falling menhir. This releases the fallen prince's spirit, who silently thanks Elinor for freeing him. As the sun rises for the second time, Merida understands the witch's riddle, and reconciles with her mother. The queen is restored to her human form, as are the triplets, and the family is reunited.
Later, Merida and Elinor work together on a new tapestry of Merida and Elinor as a bear, when they are called to the docks to bid farewell to the other clans. Their bond renewed and strengthened by their adventure, Merida and Elinor become inseparable.
- Kelly Macdonald as Merida, a Scottish princess who dreams of following her own path and living her own life
- Billy Connolly as King Fergus, Dunbroch's king and Merida's boisterous father
- Emma Thompson as Queen Elinor, Dunbroch's diplomatic queen and Merida's mother, whose respect for protocol and tradition brings her into conflict with her daughter.
- Julie Walters as The Witch, a crafty and bumbling old woman who agrees to help Merida
- Robbie Coltrane as Lord Dingwall
- Kevin McKidd as Lord MacGuffin and Young MacGuffin
- Craig Ferguson as Lord Macintosh
- Sally Kinghorn and Eilidh Fraser as Maudie, the castle maid
- Peigi Barker as Young Merida
- Steven Cree as Young Macintosh
- Steve Purcell as The Crow
- Callum O'Neill as Wee Dingwall
- Patrick Doyle as Martin, the guard
- John Ratzenberger as Gordon, the guard