The Pixar/Disney film Brave came out on DVD last week in a five disc combo pack including Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D. The film centers on a teenage princess and skilled archer Merida, who, in an act of defiance, inadvertently brings chaos to her Scottish kingdom.
Merida learns about bravery when she must put her skills and resources together to undo a curse she mistakenly brought on.
No Pixar DVD release is complete without an extensive bonus disk additional to the bonus that's already tacked on the feature DVD. The film's producer Katherine Sarafian talked to The Huffington Post's Zorianna Kit about some of those bonus features.
Q: The La Luna short that was shown in theaters prior to the Brave feature is included on the DVD. But there's an additional short as well. What is it?
SARAFIAN: There's a short film that can't be seen anywhere else called The Legend of Mor'du. It's a backstory for our dark cursed bear and how he came to be. It was always in our heads that we wanted to tell the rest of this bear's story but there just wasn't screen time to do it. So the short film felt like the perfect place to do it.
Q: Why was it important to have that?
SARAFIAN: As filmmakers and storytellers we needed to understand him, his motivation, what kind of character he was, before we could really address his character and his arc in the film. It's fun to watch it after the film because there's a little in-joke in there. Mostly it is about the legend and about putting together the pieces of the story that the queen tells Merida about now there once was an ancient kingdom, and the four sons, the princes dividing the land... The idea is that part of this legend, the unanswered questions of it make sense after you've seen the movie, then see the short.
Q: Some of that extra footage highlights the craftspeople behind the film. What types of things can we see?
SARAFIAN: How we created everything from the art and the technology to build Merida's hair, the garments and how we made the characters dirty and grimy so they'd feel rugged in this ancient landscape. A lot of things have to do with going to an ancient time, which Pixar has never done before. We have a lot of fun stuff about our research trip, how we began this whole project in Scotland back in 2006, what we learned there, and actual footage from those trips. It's really cool.
Q: Can you give an example that trip?
SARAFIAN: We were trekking through all kinds of castles on the trip. But you'll see in the video footage how old-looking the stonework was and how was organized and how the rooms were oriented. We took that information and put our own castle in that setting. So it shows you how it translates from our research to actually building our own computer generated, computer animated castle.
Q: Why does Pixar like exposing what's behind the curtain? Shouldn't some mystery remain regarding the tricks of the trade?
SARAFIAN: We love what we do and we love sharing it. A lot of times people will say, 'I learned this from your DVD.' It's an educating tool. It's fun to share with people who despite all the tools at our disposal -- the computers and technology -- at the end of the day all of this is done by human beings, and what the kinds of talents these human beings bring to it. For example, Claudia Chung, our head of our simulation group, she oversaw the garment tailoring and creation and movement, and the hair creation. That required her talents as a stylist, as a tailor, as a seamstress, as a hairstylist. It's almost like costume design in live action. So we don't want to keep that stuff a secret. To us that's cool stuff to share.
Q: Is it a big deal that Merida is Pixar's first princess?
SARAFIAN: I don't think that the first princess was a feather in the cap. In fact it was something we actively tried to ignore while we were making the movie. A princess comes with so much baggage, if you will. There are conventions to this kind of storytelling and we've seen done really well by Disney through the years. That's not what we wanted to do. So we really tried to push that aside. We even considered making her not a princess. We wondered, will this work if she is the blacksmith's daughter? But the stakes just weren't high enough. She needed to be a character where when she makes a bad decision or a reckless choice, there are ripple effects through the kingdom. A civilian like the blacksmith's daughter, her reckless choice isn't going to have those kinds of repercussions. She needed to have all this weight on her. So that's why we made her royal. So it's not so much a Pixar princess. This is a Pixar hero.
Brave producer Katherine Sarafian