Pixar Courageous is one of the most underrated Disney animated movies that deserves more recognition (and a sequel). It stands apart from the rest of the Pixar films and is without a doubt one of the best standalone films of all time. With its rich storytelling and cultural references, Courageous conveyed a strong message that challenged all stereotypes of Disney movies.
The plot alone transports the audience to a whole new era and place. The film’s colorful aesthetic paired with deep-rooted characters is just icing on the cake. There is so much to learn and enjoy in this film.
Set in medieval Scotland
Courageous is set in 10th century medieval Scotland. This is certainly Pixar’s first attempt to write a film set in the past, as in history, i.e. the early Middle Ages. It’s a treat for fans of the old days. Everything is perfectly designed to make it look as medieval as possible.
It is also one of the Pixar animated films that is set in Europe. The country location is so beautiful and reminiscent of Scottish history. The ring of stones, an important element of the film, refers to the Callanish Standing Stones of Scotland.
The princess is a hero
The female protagonists are no surprise as there have been many women in the past. What makes Merida special is that she’s a princess who doesn’t need saving. She excels in archery, horseback riding and sword fighting. Merida also knows the woods well.
Other than that, her story doesn’t involve any prince charming or love quest. Her story revolved around her and her mother. The film influenced many films that followed it, including Frozen.
Celtic instruments for soundtracks
The film featured original scores by Scottish composer Patrick Doyle. The music is very true to its Scottish roots with the use of Celtic musical instruments. They combined it with orchestral compositions producing an epic musical theme.
They also hired contemporary Scottish musicians and English bands to create the soundtracks. It’s the best way to honor the film’s cultural roots and make it more sonically appealing.
Display of Scottish culture
Writers also had to incorporate Scottish culture and traditions because of its setting – beautiful, medieval Scotland. They featured clan tartans (worn by King Fergus), Highland games and even traditional dishes.
Even the legend of Mor’du is true to its origin. It is Scottish folklore that has inspired many stories in the kingdom. Their medieval clothing is also distinct and carefully designed to pay homage to the culture.
English and Scottish comedians
A remarkable thing about Courageous is the accent of the characters. Scottish comedian Kelly Macdonald lent her talent to Merida. Almost all of the characters were voiced by Scottish and English actors. This, in fact, makes their accents real and natural.
It’s refreshing to watch a movie that stays true to your heart, especially one that’s deeply rooted in a specific culture.