the Premiere of the film Brave
"There are those who say fate is something beyond our command. That destiny is not our own, but I know better. Our fate lives within us, you only have to be brave enough to see it."
~Merida, Brave (2012)
The first Pixar Disney film with a female protagonist, Brave is an animated feature film about a sixteen-year-old medieval Scottish princess, a skilled archer, who dreams of following her own path and living her own life. Pixar created three original tartan patterns for the film for three of the four clans – DunBroch, Dingwall, and MacGuffin. Also, in the film, Clan Macintosh wears a red tartan similar to the nonfictional Clan Mackintosh. The registered DunBroch tartan consists of ocean blue for the North Sea, subdued scarlet for bloodshed during the clan wars, deep green for the Scottish Highlands, navy blue for the eventual unity of the four clans, and gray for the Scottish people. In selecting the color scheme (and ignoring the kilt issue), Pixar claimed that "there was a concerted effort to use hues that were indicative of the less saturated dyeing techniques ... during the ancient period in which the fantasy film is set." 🏴🏹
Set in the Scottish Highlands, the animated 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 uses a spell which transforms her mother into a bear. Merida must act to undo the spell before its effects become permanent.
From the official register:
"The DunBroch Tartan was designed with subdued, rich colours to reflect the rugged, natural setting of Scotland. Representative of the tartan worn by the Royal Family in 'Brave', the pattern is neither splashy nor bright, but organically refined in its colour sense. There was a concerted effort to use hues that were indicative of the less saturated dyeing techniques during the ancient period in which the fantasy film is set.
Colours: Much like Scotland itself, the DunBroch Tartan is set against the ocean blue of the North Sea. The deep scarlet represents the family’s reverence for its own history, and the blood shed during battles between the clans. Deep green shows a love for Scotland’s majestic highlands, where the story unfolds. Navy blue, and its clear central intersections, represents the forging of the clans within the DunBroch kingdom. And finally, the subtle grey imbues a sense of respect for the inner soul of the strong Scottish people."
The film team toured Scotland to aid the authenticity and look and feel of the film. They explored ancient castles, collected flora and fauna, paid close attention to how light played across stone walls at different times of day, and even acted out fighting scenes to get an idea for movement. Dunnottar Castle, and others like it, directly inspired the DunBroch stronghold. And the magical stone circle was taken from the Callanish Stones, a series of stones that have been standing for more than 5000 years.
And interestingly, Merida's beautiful Celtic red curly hair represents a technological animation breakthrough. A simulator named Taz (after the Looney Tunes character) was built specifically to give Merida 1500 wild curls that moved and bounced the way they would do in the real world. According to WIRED magazine, Taz “forms individual coils around computer-generated cylinders of varying lengths and diameters. The resulting locks stretch out when Merida runs but snap back into place as soon as she stops. Each strand is also strung through with a flexible ‘core curve,’ like the string of a beaded necklace, that lets the coils bounce and brush against one another without unwinding."
For a Scottish historian's take on the film's attention to authentic detail, click the movie poster showing the heroine and her family in the clan tartan.