Run! No, wait… Play dead! Uh – try to cover your head a little. Got any magic spells…?
The Legend of Mor’du, a new short on the upcoming Blu-ray release of Pixar’s Brave, doesn’t offer many hopeful pointers, but it does dive a little deeper into the backstory of the movie’s fearsome, snarling villain.
Those who saw Brave already know Mor’du is the sinister monster bear whose true identity is a prince – although not the kind you kiss and transform back into a human. Years before, this selfish, angry royal sought a spell that would help him conquer his brothers for sole control of the family’s kingdom. But that power had the side-effect of shape-shifting him into a ferocious animal.
“It’s a cautionary tale,” says first-time director Brian Larsen, a storyboard artist on Ratatouille and story supervisor on Brave. “If you are selfish and not working in the right direction for the greater good you can destroy a huge part of your family – and yourself. A lot of tales and legends, like Grimm’s fairy tales, were like that. If you do some things, there’s a bad outcome, and not always a happy ending.”
The short is book-ended by Brave’s cheerful witch (voiced by Harry Potter’s Julie Walters) recounting the tale of Mor’du for another, unseen customer seeking a potion that might change his fate. But as she flashes back to the savage prince’s backstory, we see it depicted in a kind of hand-painted, paper cut-out style.
“It’s got a stony edge to it,” Larsen says. “We wanted it to be very graphic in that way, with a lot of silhouettes. We wanted a 2-D look that still had volume and geometry to it.”