Pick from a range of interesting facts and detailed information about Scotland and the Scottish people.
Scotland is known the world over as a place of history and heritage as well as cutting edge art and culture
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Key information on the practical aspects of moving to Scotland and where to get advice. Plus read about the experiences of people who have moved to Scotland from all over the world.
Scotland is renowned across the globe for its rich culture and heritage, and its contribution to the world past and present. From its thriving contemporary arts and music scene to its achievements in industry, medicine, science, law and literature, Scotland's story is one of immense achievement
Scotland takes centre stage in Disney Pixar’s Brave
Disney•Pixar’s “Brave” follows the heroic journey of Merida (voice of Kelly Macdonald), a skilled archer and headstrong daughter of King Fergus (voice of Billy Connolly) and Queen Elinor (voice of Emma Thompson).
Determined to change her fate, Merida defies an age-old custom sacred to the unruly and uproarious lords of the land: massive Lord MacGuffin (voice of Kevin McKidd), surly Lord Macintosh (voice of Craig Ferguson) and cantankerous Lord Dingwall (voice of Robbie Coltrane), unleashing chaos in the kingdom.
When she turns to an eccentric Witch (voice of Julie Walters), she is granted an ill-fated wish and the ensuing peril forces Merida to harness all of her resources—including her mischievous triplet brothers—to undo a beastly curse and discover the meaning of true bravery.
Brave boasts a stellar cast of characters but undoubtedly the main star of the film is the setting – the beautiful and scenic Scotland. From its rugged mountains and valleys, to its historic castle ruins, lush forests and breath-taking seascapes, Scotland has captured the imagination of many a storyteller over the years, the latest of which is the team at Pixar Animation Studios.
Knowing they wanted this action-adventure animation to play out in Scotland, the ‘Brave’ team set off on a fact-finding mission to find be scout the perfect settings and seek inspiration.
Director Mark Andrews comments, “Scotland is filled with myths and legends – everyone has a story. It’s a magical place – rugged and majestic. The colours are dark and moody, and at the same time bright and cheery – all thanks to the crazy weather.”
They travelled to Scotland during late summer 2006 and in October 2007, logging thousands of photographs, sketches, videos, paintings, memories and meals.
“We dove really deeply into the culture and the storytelling”, says producer Katherine Sarafian. “We met people and talked to them. We ate like locals and immersed ourselves in the landscape and experienced the weather and how it was consistently changing and moving.”
They visited Edinburgh, walked the Royal Mile and indulged in Scotland’s national dish of haggis – a generations-old pudding made of sheep’s heart, liver and lungs. They studied traditional weapons, fabrics and accessories at the National Museum of Scotland, attended the Lonarch Highland Gathering and the famous Braemar Gathering to ensure maximum authenticity wherever possible.
As well as informing scenes, the team’s on-the-ground research also inspired some of the storylines. Sarafian comments, “We spent a lot of time at the Standing Stones of Callanish [on the Isle of Lewis]. It felt the perfect setting for something important to happen in the story. The stones are in a perfect circle on a big exposed cliff with the sky as their backdrop – it’s very striking. You can’t tear yourself away from them. On both trips it was really hard to get any of the artists back on the bus.”
Glen Affric, located southwest of the village of Cannich in the Highland region of Scotland, contains one of the largest ancient Caledonian pinewoods in Scotland, as well as lochs, moorland and mountains. For the filmmakers eager to soak up its charms and mysticism, it was pure magic. “It’s really great to be there and breathe the cold fresh air and feel the wind in your face,” says production designer Steve Pilcher. “The moss in Scotland was spectacular. If you push your hand into the moss, it would literally sink down about a foot and then it would come back like a sponge. The heather on the hills is wild, yet it has a lush kind of rolling femininity to it. In contrast, we found a ruggedness to all of the rock, particularly in the forest.”
He adds, “The tone and emotion drive the look of the film. And the tone and emotion is driven by the story. It’s so important to remember those details from our trips to Scotalnd and find ways to get them on film to amket he story feel richer and more authentic.”
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Back in LA
The Brave team didn’t return to Scotland again to capture these environments on film. Instead, an expert team of artisans, technicians and visionaries joined forces at Pixar’s studio to design, tree-by-tree, the movie’s elaborate and highly ambitious setting.
“‘Brave’ has a visual complexity that’s at a new level—even for Pixar,” says Sarafian. “There’s absolutely nothing easy in the film. We’ve pushed the look, pushed our technology and pushed our artists to new heights.”
John Lasseter, chief creative officer for Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios and an executive producer of ‘Brave’ comments, “The reason ‘Brave’ is so incredibly challenging is because the computer likes to make things perfect, geometric. When you’re dealing with ancient Scotland, every single item—every stone, every tree, every structure—has a tremendous sense of history to it with layers of moss and dirt and wear from the weather. There’s a certain level of detail that you need to have in order to make this kind of environment believable.”
One of the stand-out themes in ‘Brave’ is how the connection between nature and the characters is made obvious by implementing the same variety of textures, patterns and layers. A connection which is by no-means an accident according to Pilcher, “I’ve always said the sets, background the environment of the film is your best supporting actor. It’s so powerful if you do it right, Walt Disney showed us that.
“The background in films like ‘Pinocchio’ and ‘Bambi’—the way the characters connect to the sets—quietly works to support the mood, support the characters, complement them. When something dramatic happens with a character, the light might change in a way that completely affects the audience’s interpretation of that shot. It’s all cohesive. The great thing about this art form is that it has motion and all those elements work together to create more emotional impact.”
Pilcher muses, “If you walk away and say ‘Wow, that was Scotland. There’s no film like that’ then we got our message across.”
But it’s director Mark Andrews that sums it up perfectly; “When you go and watch ‘Brave’ you’re not just going to see a movie, you’re going to be in Scotland.”