Film Studies: Up (2009) Nov 20, 2013 8:36:41 GMT -5
Post by StevePulaski on Nov 20, 2013 8:36:41 GMT -5
Directed by: Pete Docter
Directed by: Pete Docter
Pictures like these do the talking better than captions.
The first fifteen minutes of Pixar's Up play like a full-length movie, featuring a reserved amount of dialog and a beautiful collection of clips that show a childhood friendship that amounted into a healthy, lasting relationship that ended in sadness. The relationship was between Carl, a shy young boy who idolizes the explorer Charles F. Muntz, and Ellie, an eclectic young girl who turns an old, rundown home into a headquarters for her club. The two meet out of nowhere one day, spark an immediate, offbeat friendship predicated on their love for exploring new places, get married, and endure decades of happiness before nature takes its course and Ellie passes away. Up details this in a beautiful, unforgettable fifteen minutes, leading to one of the most impacting scenes of animated emotion I have ever seen.
Carl (voiced by Edward Asner) is now elderly, living in the aforementioned rundown house that acts as an island in the center of construction in the big city. Suits try to get Carl to sell his home, but he refuses, until seemingly admitting defeat after an incident with one of the workers turns violent. Carl manages to strap thousands of balloons to his home and, utilizing a complex steering system pioneered by his wife for fun when they were kids, manages to lift the house from the ground and sail through the vast, open blue skies. His destination is Paradise Falls, located in Venezuela, an exotic land where him and his wife always believed they'd reside.
However, unwanted company accidentally hitches a ride in the form of Russell (Jordan Nagai), a totally harmless little boy scout anxious to obtain his "helping the elderly badge." Before taking off in house, Carl instructed Russell out of kindness to capture a beast that has been tearing up his yard, and Russell returns on Carl's front porch to state his success when he is unwillingly taken up, up, and away along with Carl's entire home. The two wind up sticking together on this trip, both getting more than they bargained for when a nearly extinct bird and an unconventional talking dog turn up in their path as well.
If there was ever a film to prove even the most hard-hearted that animation can be a wondrous medium that is capable of showing deep emotion, Up is the one. Writers Bob Peterson and Pete Docter (the Monsters, Inc. franchise) have successfully crafted Pixar's most adult script in terms of theme, focusing on the ideas of death, tribute, and closure, but capturing it in such a way that will not bore or miss the mark with young children. It wouldn't be far-fetched in my eyes to call Docter "John Lasseter Jr.," since he possesses ambition akin to Lasseter's early animation days.
If anything, this is thanks to the Docter, who utilizes both his directorial efforts with Pixar to create some of their biggest films in terms of visual scope and range. Monsters, Inc. featured an unprecedented amount of visual flair and colorful content. Consider the scene that took place inside the factory of many doors the monsters could use to enter a young child's bedroom. In one shot, when Mike and Sully are desperately holding on to one door, hundreds, if not thousands of doors are shown in just one shot. In several shots in Up, hundreds, if not thousands of multi-colored balloons are shown, which I'm sure posed and animating nightmare for the production team. The film had such a lengthy production history, a list of "production babies" - babies born during the making of the film - reaches about thirty or so children.
The plot of Up works as a piece of escapism because it seems to be everyone's fantasy at one point or another - the fantasy being the ability to escape life's current issues by abandoning them entirely and having to answer to no one. In an essence, the film is a staple of what all animated film should include: lovable characters, a beautiful sense of adventure, the right amount of emotion leverage, extraordinary action sequences, and adult themes tackled in a digestible (but not condescending) way for young children. The revolutionary aspect of Up comes while watching this, realizing that animation is not just a timekiller for children, but an unbelievable art-form that will no hopefully no longer go shortchanged in discussions concerning cinema.
Voiced by: Edward Asner, Jordan Nagai, Bob Peterson, and Christopher Plummer. Directed by: Pete Docter.