Disney-Pixar's Brave Has Heart
- Thursday, June 21, 2012
Do you think it’s good for families to see that the conflict resolution between Merida and Elinor didn’t happen easily as a result of the witch’s spell, but that it took some change on both the parts of mother and daughter?
We saw that as very important. When you start using magic ... in any magic it’s like there are the rules of magic and you could make up your own rules. So we wanted to make sure that our magic had real rules to it where we could logically trace it so that we were always checking ourselves against the magic. Does the magic cause this or this? Where are the limits of the magic and what is true love and forgiveness and repentance and saying "I’m sorry"—what does that get you that magic can’t get you? And so it was really important to us that the magic only take it so far. And sewing up that tapestry ... actually Elinor didn’t do a darn thing and that’s a devastating moment for Merida. I guess that’s the limit of the magic and that her logic and her thinking wouldn’t help her there. She had to look into her heart. She had to really express and apologize and show true love and that’s what’s transformative in life. And we want our viewers to take away that point. That’s what changes you and that’s what helps you grow when you’re coming of age.
The overarching theme of Brave is “change your fate.” As a person of faith, do you believe we can change our fate or do you believe that it is controlled by a higher power?
I think everyone has their own perspective on this. In terms of me and my faith, I think it’s both. I think there's a higher power who oversees our faith, but without prayer and being present in our faith we can’t have a say in it. I’m a firm believer in the power of prayer. You call it fate or destiny or any number of things, but it’s like I think if you put out there to your higher power what you’re wanting, you may not get exactly that. But you’re going to get what you need; you’re going to get what God wants for you. And so I think you can’t just turn it over and say, "Oh, whatever God wants is going to happen.” I think prayer is important there.
There are probably many, but can you pick a favorite moment in the film?
I have so many favorite moments. In constructing a film they’re all meaningful. One that resonates with me particularly is the ending. There’s a little moment in the epilogue just when things have resolved already, but when Merida and Mom are sewing the tapestry together at the end. What I like about that is really that first tapestry was sewn completely by Elinor, and if you look at it, its characters all face straight out. And that’s the one that Merida slashes, right between the relationship. But the second tapestry, they’re sewing together. And if you look at the image of it you’ve got Mom in bear form. They’re looking straight at each other, and they’re holding hands and touching really for the first time. And they’re doing it together, and they’re enjoying it. So as parent and child there’s a feeling of play and sharing and appreciation, and Merida’s like, “I actually want to do this thing that Mom likes to do right now.” And Mom is showing her own image as a bear, and it’s like, “I am comfortable enough with what I went through that I can depict it. I don’t want to put it behind me. I want to know that this happened.” And I just love that moment and when the music kicks in. I always get a little misty there.
What do you think sets apart Disney-Pixar films from other animation?
Well, I do love the medium of animation, and I’m always glad that there’s a lot out there. I think that what we do is try to focus on a story and try to trust our audiences to be really intelligent. And we want to tell the best story we can for our audiences, and that means that we’re willing to—and I think this is kind of a very Pixar thing—we’re willing to change things all along the pipeline whatever it takes. So that’s why it takes so long to make these movies. We could have made a movie in three years, and it would be so-so. But we want to take the extra time and really make the story the best it can be, and so we take extra time on it. And we’re willing to let go of if we loved a character or a scene that was so entertaining to us, but we have to cut it out because it doesn’t serve the story or we have to lose a scene that we really, really loved because it was inefficient or it was confusing. And those things are hard to do as filmmakers; you love all your babies and you love all the scenes in your movies, but you have to be willing to get rid of a lot of them. And I think we’re willing to do that. And we know the story requires it sometimes, and that changes everything whether it’s animation to the inflection of a voice to getting rid of or adding a character late in the game. We will do that, and I think it makes a difference.
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