Sunday, January 24, 2010


From Pixar comes another delightfully fresh, inspiring and heart-warming film, Up, directed and written by Pete Docter and Bob Peterson. It tells the story of the unlikely-old man protagonist, complete with crabby face and walker - Carl Fredricksen (voiced by Edward Asner), who, with the innovative idea of helium balloons, leaves his city behind in search of Paradise Falls, half-inspired by his childhood hero and explorer Charles Muntz (Christopher Plummer - think Captain Von Trapp), and half in a bid to keep his promise to his recently deceased wife, Ellie. However, Carl does not make the journey alone - due to an unexpected twist of events, he finds himself with Russell, a loquacious young boy with a short attention span and an enthusiasm for exploring. After a storm (perhaps symbolic of the obstacles along the path we aspire to follow), the two of them reach Paradise Falls, and what follows is a very interesting adventure concerning Carl, Russell, a rather goofy dog and a colourful bird, as well as a half-crazed explorer (none other than Charles Muntz himself), not to forget the Greek-alphabet named pack of dogs!

First up, kudos to Pixar and Disney for consistently coming out with fantastically-animated films, each of which has different themes from the next. While the theme of Ratatouille was self-discovery and hidden talent, and the theme of Wall.E was environmental awareness, the theme for Up - well, there are many.

There is the thread of following through with unfulfilled promises - the wish to make it happen, whatever it is, no matter what comes along. The desire to go ahead with something you've always wanted, either because you promised it to yourself, or to a loved one. Carl's journey is more than just a journey - it is a travel to give his childhood sweetheart and his love the one thing she missed - travel

Parenthood - realised and unrealised, also crops up again and again. Ellie's inability to have children finds an inverse reflection in Russell, the young boy who almost becomes one with Carl. There is also a slight hint of bad parenting, if one watches carefully - Russell talks about past outings with his father, things that he misses doing with him, and how he has been distanced, forcefully. Contrast the absent yet unpleasant father with Ellie, who never had the opportunity to become a mother.

In Up, unlikely friendships are forged, and you are riveted at not only the constant attention to detail (notice the steadily growing beard of Carl), but also at the constantly moving story, the amazing animation, and the appropriately chosen music. Especially the animation - Pixar's work is probably the very best, in my opinion, and each balloon looks different, each bush is unique, and watch out for the 'snipe' bird - Kevin, look at the feathers and the riot of colour on her tail! My favourite scene in all of the movie would be the one where Carl sets off, where the balloons burst forth, in a multi-coloured palette against the sky. You can almost feel the rubbery texture, you can almost experience the wind that propels the house and Carl along their journey. Yes, that's how good Pixar's animation is!

In fact, colour has been used rather intelligently in Up. You will probably not fail to notice the shifts from vibrantly coloured scenes to diffused, almost black-and-white - when the mood changes from happy to sombre and sad. This is especially apparent in the first half of the movie, where a young Carl and Ellie are decorating the nursery, and then the scene shifts to a drab, sparsely furnished, predominantly grey hospital room where Ellie is told that she can never become a mother.

It's impossible not to be taken in with Up. It's sweet, it's inspiring, and while seemingly simple - there's a complex message hidden underneath it. It's never too late to follow through with a promise. It's never too late to go ahead and do what you've been dreaming about all these years. So go ahead, take the road less travelled, and who knows? You might have some really unlikely adventures along the way!


storyteller said...

I absolutely love Pixar movies precisely for all the reasons you stated here :)

Madhura said...

I LOVEEEEEEEE the dog!!!!!!!!!!!!

Magically Bored said...

@ Storyteller: Amen to that.

@ Madhura: Me too. :)