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This is the first Pixar film set entirely in the historic past.
Kevin McKidd was particularly happy to work on this project because it was the first time in years that he'd been able to use his natural Scottish accent in a film.
The misunderstood dialect that Young MacGuffin (voiced by Kevin McKidd) speaks is called Doric. It is spoken in northeastern Scotland including Kevin McKidd's hometown of Elgin.
Two additional software programs were specially developed for this film by Pixar in the period of three years. One of them allows simulation of Merida's 1500 strands of hair curls to move together with her movements.
The original title of the film was "The Bear and the Bow".
SERIES TRADEMARK: The Pizza Planet truck, a fixture of nearly every full-length Pixar film, can be spotted in the Witch's Hut, even though there were no cars at the time Brave (2012) takes place.
This is the first Pixar-produced film to have a female protagonist. Princess Merida is also the first Pixar character to be included in the Disney Princess line.
While the surname MacIntosh (or McIntosh) is a common in Scotland, and the name of a well-known variety of apple, here it appears to be a reference to the Apple computer. Steve Jobs was a co-founder of Apple and played a big role in Pixar. The movie is dedicated to him at the end credits: "Dedicated to the memory of Steve Jobs, our partner, mentor and friend". Merida's repeatedly being interrupted while trying to eat an apple, which her mother considers unladylike, may also be a reference to the Apple logo: an apple with a single bite taken out.
If you look closely at the title, you can see Merida hidden in the letter B and Elinor hidden in the letter E.
The film has faced several "controversies" upon its release. First, despite not wanting to get married to a prince, Merida was still made an official Disney princess, which many people considered a hypocritical contradiction to the film's message. It was also criticized for being a fairy tale film made by Pixar, not by the in-house Disney animation, and many longtime Pixar fans saw this as evidence that, after having been bought by Disney, Pixar had "sold out" and was now just Disney's tool for marketing and merchandising productions. And finally, when Merida's image was being marketed in dolls and books by the Disney company, her proportions were altered to make her slimmer and curvier, in the manner of other Disney heroines. This produced such an outcry from the public that the alterations were scrapped.
Merida's name in Hebrew means "to rebel".
Castle DunBroch, where the family lives, translates to Castle Brown Fort
The name of the evil bear, from the legend told by the Queen, is Mor'du. In Gaelic it would be spelled Mor Dubh, and means the large black one.
Pixar movie-makers created the family tapestry using a technology that allowed them to create billions of individual threads.
The reference to a long lost kingdom from days past where there was a king and he had four sons is a reference to the early French ruler Clovis, who had four sons and, upon his death, split the region of Gaul (modern day France) into four parts, one for each son to rule.
None of the footage shown in the preview trailer is in the finished film.
In the witch's hut, when the broom flies across the room after attempting to sweep the bird, Sulley from Monsters, Inc. (2001) can be seen, teasing its prequel Monsters University (2013). He is carved into a piece of wood.
For the scene depicting Merida and Elinor's big fight, Emma Thompson worked herself into an intense motherly rage and ad-libbed the line "There'll be fire and sword if it's not set right."
The chess set in Merida's room is the famous Lewis Chessmen from the 12th century, unearthed in Scotland in 1831.
HIDDEN MICKEY: The belt that Queen Elinor wears in the first half of the movie forms a hidden Mickey when viewed from the front. You can see the distinct Mickey head and the two ears as connecting circles around her waist.
Merida is the first Disney princess to have brothers.
Lord MacGuffin and his son are appropriately named. A MacGuffin (or McGuffin) is a film industry slang term that is loosely defined as an otherwise unimportant plot item/event that nevertheless drives the plot forward. In this case, the three suitors are only a means by which to escalate the tension between the princess and the queen.
Merida is the first Disney princess to not have a love interest.
Merida is the first Disney princess to not be based on any preexisting character or historical figure.
The filmmakers wanted the Disney logo to have the DunBroch castle in place of the Cinderella castle. They also considered adding a bagpipe to the Pixar logo.
It took six years to make this film. Mark Andrews was initially the consultant, providing the Scottish themes for Brenda Chapman. However, by October 2010, Chapman left after four years of work with Andrews subsequently taking over but still keeping the intended story that Chapman wrote. Originally 80% of the film took place in snow, but when Chapman left the project so did much of the white stuff.
The necklace Merida wears at the clan gathering - and later uses to pay the witch for the spell - is the same necklace that Elinor wears in the prologue, implying that it is a family heirloom.
In spite of being replaced by Mark Andrews during production, Brenda Chapman has said she's very proud of the movie, claiming that "[her] vision came through."
There was a scene storyboarded where Merida was actually interested in Young MacGuffin, but the scene was scrapped because they wanted to focus on the love between a mother and daughter.
Brenda Chapman based Merida on her own daughter, while Elinor was loosely based on herself.
Reese Witherspoon was originally announced as the voice of Princess Merida, but scheduling conflicts prevented from taking the role. Kelly Macdonald replaced her.
The filmmakers decided to show Merida mucking-out Angus's stall herself, to challenge the audience's expectations of what a "princess" should be.
Kelly Macdonald was in her thirties when she voiced the teenage Merida.
Kelly Macdonald, Robbie Coltrane, Emma Thompson, and Julie Walters, who all play a role in this film, all had roles in the Harry Potter movies as well.
The animators had to personally learn the choreography for the film's fight scenes.
Dingwall is a town in Scotland which once contained the largest castle north of Stirling and was believed to be the site of a legendary battle between the Clan Mackay and the Clan Donald in 1411. The English name Dingwall means "meeting place of the local assembly." The town's Gaelic name Inbhir Pheofharain means "the mouth of the Peffery" but it is also known as Baile Chail ("cabbage town"), appropriate for Lord Dingwall's son.
Sean Connery (specifically for King Fergus), Richard Wilson, David Tennant, Annette Crosbie (for The Witch), and Stephen Farrelly (for Young Macintosh) were all considered for roles in the movie.
Originally, the triplets were to distract Fergus with a bear puppet, but the filmmakers changed it to a chicken on a stick because they thought it would be funnier.
One 14-person team of animators assigned to deal with duplicating the musculature in horses and Princess Merida's curly hair included six graduates of Brigham Young University's highly vaunted computer-animation program.
Merida is the first teenage protagonist in a Pixar film.
The third Pixar film to receive a PG rating from the MPAA. The only previous films with that rating being The Incredibles (2004) and Up (2009).
Due to Gordon the Guard having a Scottish accent, it has been one of John Ratzenberger's least recognizable role out of all Pixar characters voiced by him. Ratzenberger's also one of the few actors not from the UK to be in the film.
The flashback scene of Elinor and Young Merida singing a lullaby was almost cut because of how difficult it was to animate Merida as a toddler. They basically scaled down the animation of teenage Merida and made her features more youthful.
During production, Mark Andrews and Katherine Sarafian would take turns pretending to be each other's audience in order to prepare for big meetings. This became the inspiration for the scene where Elinor practices her lecture as Fergus pretends to be Merida.
The first film to use the new Dolby Atmos sound system. The new system expands from the 5/7.1 channel sound mixes to 64 discrete speaker feeds and 128 simultaneous and lossless audio channels.
First Pixar Film to not have any Characters with American Accents.
The world premiere of this movie also marked the grand opening of Hollywood's Dolby Theatre featuring its first presentation in Dolby 3D [June 18, 2012].
Merida's horse is named Angus, a common Scottish name, but also a possible allusion to a P.G. Wodehouse character named Angus McAllistor, a Glaswegian of described as "all the ingredients of a first-class mule simply thrown away."
While Elinor is telling Merida that a princess is compassionate, the cook is in the background cutting the head off a chicken.
Disney/Pixar registered and copyrighted the official tartan pattern of the DunBroch clan with the Scottish Register of Tartans in 2012. The color scheme is:
  • Ocean blue for the North Sea
  • Deep scarlet for the family's reverence for its own history, and the blood shed during battles between the clans
  • Deep green for love for the Scottish highlands
  • Navy blue and its clear central intersections for the forging of the clans within the DunBroch kingdom
  • Subtle grey for the inner soul of the Scots
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Originally, a haggis-tossing competition was to be held for the suitors to win Merida's hand, before it was changed to an archery contest.
Kelly Macdonald (Merida) and Kevin McKidd (Lord MacGuffin) had previously worked together in Trainspotting (1996).
First Disney Princess Film to not have Musical Elements, since Pixar Movies don't generally have any of that.
The last Pixar film to receive a video game adaptation for traditional video game consoles or computers (i.e. not counting mobile games), up until Cars 3 (2017) 5 years later.
The Legend of Mor'du (2012) is short film attached to the Blu-ray and DVD release which gives in-depth background about the film's villain Mor'du. The witch made a small cauldron for him, which he could use to gain the strength of ten men as he wanted, or he could instead use it to heal the rift he caused within his family. He chose the former, slaughtered his brothers, and then his own men either turned on him, or fled in fear because they only saw a beast, not their leader.
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When Merida says "jings, crivvens and help ma boab" this is a catchphrase of famous Scottish comic strip, Oor Wullie, a staple in Scotland since the early 1940's
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First Disney/Pixar animated film to feature nudity; first with the clan leaders remove their kilts to make a rope after being locked out of the tower. You can see their bums as they walk back to the castle. Later, Merida's three brothers run naked to their parents after being turned back from bear cubs to little boys.
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SERIES TRADEMARK: A113 can be seen carved in Roman Numerals in the Witch's Hut.
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As Merida puts together a tray with the enchanted cake she means to give to her mother, she places a purple flower next to the plate. The flower is a thistle, which is the Scottish national emblem.
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Scottish animator Mark Flood was a guest at the European premiere of this film in Edinburgh Festival Theatre.
Pixar's 13th feature film.
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Kelly Macdonald and Emma Thompson also starred together in Nanny McPhee (2005).
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Castle DunBroch bares a striking resemblance to a real Scottish castle: Eilean Donan, which is located a small tidal island where three sea lochs meet (Loch Duich, Loch Long and Loch Alsh) in the western Highlands of Scotland. The castle was founded in the thirteenth century, and became a stronghold of the Clan MacKenzie and their allies the Clan MacRae. Eilean Donan Castle is one of the most recognized castles in Scotland and is a popular location for films, TV, advertisements, fashion shoots and music videos.
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Based on Elinor's hairstyle (two knee-length braids bound in ribbons), this film appears to take places around the 12th century. Taking that into account, Merida's hairstyle is appropriate; unmarried women had their hair long and unbound during this time.
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Merida is the first Disney princess to not sing. However, as a toddler, she and Elinor do briefly sing a lullaby.
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The first Pixar film of the 2010s to be rated PG.
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The Pixar Ball can be seen carved out of wood in the "wood carver's" cottage. At about 33:36 in, the ball can be seen carved out of wood on the table to the right after the witch summons her weapons on Merida & exclaims, "I don't care!".
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Pixar's first original film since Up (2009).
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The first Pixar film of the 2010s to not get a franchise (currently).
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The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

The only thing we ever see Merida eat is apples.
The height difference between Merida and Bear-Elinor sometimes required the animators to shrink Elinor in order for both characters to fit in the same shot. Merida is 5'4" and Bear-Elinor is nine feet tall when standing.
The night Elinor turns into a bear, Fergus has two men put a taxidermy bear on, most likely, Elinor's throne. This foreshadows Elinor's transformation into a bear.
The three bear sculptures the witch tries to sell Merida all foreshadow the following major events of the story. The sculpture of two bears playing with a box that the witch describes by saying, "Add a touch of whimsy to any dark chamber" represents the comedic "whimsy" of Elinor moving through the castle immediately after she turns into a bear. The second sculpture of a bear catching fish represents the scene in which Merida teaches Elinor to fish. The third sculpture of bears recreating the creation of Adam from the Sistine Chapel represents Mor'du and Elinor both reaching their paws toward Merida as she tries to escape the ruins.
Elinor's transformation into a bear was going to be shown on-screen, but the shot was scrapped because upon seeing Elinor sprouting hair, the filmmakers felt the audience would think she was turning into Fergus.
For the first half of the film, Elinor wears her hair up in braids, symbolizing her uptight personality. After she's turned into a bear, she gradually learns to loosen up and listen to others. When she returns to her human form, Elinor wears her hair down, showing that she finally sees eye-to-eye with Merida.
In the family tapestry (woven by Elinor), the image of Merida has braided hair, just like her mother. This confirms Merida's statement that Elinor wants Merida to be exactly like her, rather than let her daughter be her own person. At the end of the film, Merida and Elinor are weaving a new tapestry together, where the Merida picture wears her hair down. This is to show Elinor's acceptance of her daughter's real personality.
Merida's brothers never talk for the entire film.

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