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Hot 100 2012: Brave

Pixar's first foray onto Scottish soil was one of the cultural events of the year

Hot 100 2012: Brave

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Just casting a glance over the 2012 edition of our annual Hot 100, you can see how pervasive Brave’s influence is. Kelly Macdonald (Hot 100 #3) and Billy Connolly (#51) took leading roles as Highland princess Merida and her father King Fergus; Gaelic-language singer Julie Fowlis (#81) performed two songs on the soundtrack; and the film had its UK premiere at the newly-revived Edinburgh International Film Festival – a welcome choice from the festival’s artistic director, Chris Fujiwara (#15).

In order to hold back from entirely reformatting our list as the Brave 100, there were a few names that didn’t quite make it, but who did no less an admirable job. Actors Robbie Coltrane, Craig Ferguson and Kevin McKidd brought some perfectly-executed comic relief in the shape of three clan-leading noblemen (McKidd performed two roles as both Lord MacGuffin and his Doric-spouting heir), and composer Patrick Doyle created the score for the film, following high-profile soundtracks for Thor and Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

The main star, of course, was Scotland itself. Scottish locations, including the Calanais Standing Stones on the Isle of Lewis, Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness and Kildrummy Castle in Aberdeenshire were visited by the Pixar production team in preparation for the film, and their influence can be felt strongly throughout. Scotland’s own oral folk tale traditions also played a large part: Brave is Pixar’s first fairy tale, a major divergence from their typically contemporary fare.

The film is by no means flawless – our lead film critic Hannah McGill gave it three stars in her review back in June – but it’s impossible to deny the cultural impact Brave has made.

Brave Trailer


  • 3 stars
  • 2012
  • US
  • 100 min
  • PG
  • Directed by: Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman
  • Cast: Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson
  • UK release: 3 August 2012

A rebellious Scottish princess defies her mother's marriage plans and unleashes a curse on her fairytale kingdom, then must complete a number of challenges in order to lift it. The kick-ass tomboyishness of Merida and luscious landscapes make up for a wavering story.


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