I was first introduced to the author William Boyd in the book club. We read Any Human heart and I was sold on his heart rending historical drama / realism style. It translated very well to television last year although the book for me is a monumental piece of storytelling and one of my standout books over the past few years.
Unusually for me, I’ve read a few more of his books ‘in my own time’ ie not book club books. This is unusual as the discipline of reading a book per month in book club often means other books often get the scraps of your reading time. But Boyd is a master story teller and I am a willing reader of his tales.
His latest book is a story set in world war one featuring soldiering wartime exploits, espionage, acting and lashings of intrigue. I devoured it in a day or two and enjoyed it immensely. It’s a screenplay essentially, with the book written so cinematically it’s virtually good to go on the big screen. It’s resonant of Boy’s Own literature for the grown up generation and I was drawing parallels with John Buchan’s 39 Steps.
Highly enjoyable fun, let me know if you’d like to borrow my copy.
So when a new Pixar film is announced there is much eager anticipation in our house (and not just from the younger audience, ahem!) and the trailers have been wetting our appetites for Brave for about a year so it was great to head to the flix to see what the latest wizardry from Pixar would entail. We all very much enjoyed the film but from my point of view it is not one of Pixar’s best, more Bolt than Monsters Inc and it felt very Disney to me. I’ve no idea what influence Disney have over the animation studio but this film lacked some of the quirkiness, intelligence and surrealness that has been a hallmark of Pixar. Having said that it is by no means a poor film, after all an average Pixar film is considerably better than most of the children’s films that get produced.
The story centres on Merida, a fiesty firey red headed celt, who would far rather be out shooting her bow, climbing cliffs, riding her horse and generally have a good time than doing her duty to the clan and becoming the proper princess that her mother is despairingly trying to turn her into so that she can be married off to the most suitable heir from among the other clans. The scene is therefore set for the age old coming of age, duty and responsibility verses freedom, mother and daughter story that has been played out across the generations since storytelling began. Can you change your destiny ?
One of the lovely winks to the history of storytelling in the film is the idea that the myths and legends that are told to Merida, and that the clans uphold, are because they are based on ancient truths which is of course mirrored in the animated storytelling that Pixar specialise in as they look to reflect upon and retell us tales based upon the kernals of truth that have been handed down through the myths, legends, folk and fairytales over the years.
One thing you can guarantee in a Pixar film is the quality of the animation and a special mention must be made of Merida’s hair which is quite incredible and catches the eye in a way I’ve not seen since being astonished by the way the Sulley’s fur moved in Monsters Inc. In fact if they had spent half the time they had spent on getting the hair right on character development across the whole film then they would have hit gold. I was also mesmerised by the will o’ the wisp who attempts to guide Merida on the right path as she seeks to change her destiny, they reminded me greatly of the underwater Alien in Abyss – mystical, shifting beings who’s motive you are unsure of the.
So overall the film is good fun, there are plenty of laughs and although the plot loses it’s way a bit it does all come together at the end. However whisper it but Mulan does this storyline in a much better film.