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Soundtrack review: Brave (Patrick Doyle, 2012)

Composer of the month Patrick Doyle month

Soundtrack review: Brave (Patrick Doyle, 2012)

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As far as traditional folk music goes, the Celtic sound is my favorite. When I hear bagpipes, fiddles, flutes, Celtic harps or bodhrans, something moves inside me. I dream of vast plains and rainy days, I go into one of the favorite places of my heart. It’s a place I build carefully in over 20 years of listening to Mike Oldfield, The Chieftains or The Corrs. This music is imprinted in me probably as deep as if I had been born in that area.
Naturally, a score for a movie like “Brave”, a wonderful animated movie from 2012 about the mother-daughter relationship set in the Scottish highlands, got my attention before it even came out. When I also heard that Patrick Doyle was going to write it, I was much hyped.  A crafted composer like Doyle can’t go wrong with a Celtic score. He took the whole arsenal of Scottish reels and jigs and incorporated them in an absolutely brilliant score. He even wrote a drinking song, the funny “Song of Mor’du”, performed by comedian Billy Connolly.
Emotion comes naturally in this score. It doesn’t need to make an effort to touch you, to get inside your heart and make you care for what’s happening on screen. Emotion is just there, in all shapes and forms.  “Brave” is wonderfully playful when it needs to be (“Remember to smile”, “Through the castle”, “Legends are lessons”), because, after all, the poor girl’s mother has been turned into a bear so we’re bound to have funny scenes. It is also deeply affecting when the story requires, and the Celtic instruments can easily make the listener / viewer shiver… “Noble maiden fair” is a sweet Celtic lullaby and Emma Thomson sings it right, accompanied by Peigi Barker.
The action cues are handled brilliantly. My favorites are “Mum goes wild” and “Get the key”. I know the score is for an animated movie when I hear them, because the action in the music also makes me snicker every now and then. “We’re both changed” is my favorite cue of the score. It’s emotional and intense, a complete cue that doesn’t stop affecting me for over 5 minutes. It has everything: racing action, touching moments and a haunting Celtic lady voice that gets to me. The end of the cue is vintage Patrick Doyle greatness, and I know that a few people cried in the theater when this song played and the climax of the movie happened.
“Brave” is one of the best Patrick Doyle scores of the last few years. It’s animation movie score done differently, and the Celtic influence helps a great deal in getting it high on my list. If you are into this kind of music, this score is for you. It’s also for whoever wants to spend an hour listening to a lovely score that will leave you smiling and emotionally fulfilled at the end.
My ratings:
Cue rating: 82 / 100
Total minutes of excellence: 41 / 57
Album excellence: 73%
Cues to listen to:
“Fate and Destiny”
“The Games”
“I Am Merida”
“Remember to Smile”
“The Witch’s Cottage”
“Song of Mor’du” (Billy Con
“Through the Castle”
“Mum Goes Wild”
“In Her Heart”
“Noble Maiden Fair (A Mhaighdean Bhan Uasal)”
Get the key
“We’ve Both Changed”
“Merida’s Home”
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Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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