There is no denying that Pixar movies were some of the first films we saw as children and, due to their quality and the nostalgic feelings we have towards the studio, we return again and again to see the latest release.
However, what if I was to tell you that Pixar is growing just as we are? Thanks to a Reddit #FanTheory from Shartastic, we have reason to believe that Pixar tells the story of life. The movies themselves illustrate the very motions of the human experience, from childhood innocence to coming to terms with death. The computer animated branch of Disney has been teaching and developing with us as we watch. Let's examine the evidence that suggest Pixar tells the story of life.
1. Early Attachment & Childhood Innocence: Toy Story
Toy Story tapped into so many childhood emotions. Who didn't believe their toys came to life when we weren't looking? But the movie goes much deeper in its exploration of some of our earliest years. Andy and Woody's relationship is symbolic of our early attachments, except we are seeing it from the toy's point of view. I'm sure we can all look back and remember (or even still have) that toy, blanket or teddy that we poured all our love into. Toy Story literally toys with these first feelings of having something that was truly ours. Andy's branding of his collection shows us the connection and ownership he has towards every single one of the toys he's been given.
Alongside these feelings of attachment is the purity of childhood. Andy is able to create universes in which his toys live, his innocence is still in its prime. However, it's Buzz's discovery that he isn't a real space-man that really pulls at the heartstrings, as he looses his naivety and must face up to the fact he is a child's plaything. Watch the scene below as Buzz loses his innocence and takes ours at the same time.
2. Finding Your Place In The World: A Bug's Life
What better way of presenting the troubles children go through when starting school than using ants: Tiny, delicate creatures who must learn from a young age how to fit in? A Bug's Life shows the struggles Flik takes on in order to find himself in the big world.
He may not fit in at the beginning, but the courageous insect carves himself a place, saving the others along the way. The clip above is a strong message that all children should be taught. You may be small now, but you have all the potential you need inside of you.
In contrast to this, there is Hopper and his gang, the big guys who pick on the little ones. Flik's determination and courage to stand up to the grasshoppers is a powerful lesson to bullies and the oppressed. The ants soon learn that though they be tiny, they are stronger together.
3. Letting Go Of Fears & Growing Up: Monster's Inc
After childhood comes adolescence and the years of learning responsibility and letting go of our childhood fears. Monster's Inc sees both Boo and Sully develop within the story and overcome their personal demons, quite literally.
When we first meet Boo she is terrified of Randall (quite rightly too) and is unable to sleep without the closet being checked. However, by the end of the movie she is no longer scared of the monsters and is able to sleep alone in the dark without fear.
Boo's growth signifies her shift into an older age bracket, and although she is technically the same age throughout the movie, she is displaying much more grown-up behavior. I think most of us went through this stage of fearing the dark and the boogyman lurking somewhere and even at the age of 27 I sometimes feel a bit wary. Therefore, Boo's transformation is wonderful to see especially as it means Randall has lost his power over her and if Boo can do it, so can I.
Sully, by comparison, must learn to trust himself and develop a new way of thinking in order to ensure the continuation of the monster race. His fear of children has been placed upon him by the powers above, but meeting Boo allows him to face his phobias only to find out they don't really exist.
He successfully parents Boo and along the way discovers the value of laughter. The touching finale clip below sees the two letting go of each other for what could be the last time. The acknowledgement that, though Sully and Boo want to stay together, they no longer need each other speaks volumes of letting your childhood go and growing up.
4. Parenthood: Finding Nemo
Pixar did not fuck around with this opening for Finding Nemo. Marlin and Coral have everything they've ever wanted until it's brutally snatched away from them by a fearsome predator. Marlin is then left widowed and with one damaged egg — and all this happens before we've even seen the opening credits. Brutal.
Finding Nemo tackles the difficulties of parenting, especially those of a single parent. As a father figure, Marlin is unable to let Nemo gain independence because he is emotionally incapable of letting him go. His feelings are completely understandable because we know how Nemo is the only thing he has left in the world. However, when they are forcibly separated Marlin does whatever any parent would do and searches everywhere, risking his life in the process. But in the end, it's not until Marlin can finally let go of his own paranoia that he is reunited with his son.
Nemo too has issues with his father and feels smothered by his affection and worry, but when it comes down to it and he's in trouble all he really wants is his daddy. This movie makes you want to ring home just to check in. If you're a child it allows you to realize that your parents may be strict, but they only do it out of love. However, if you're a parent, it's a lesson in trusting your children as they are far more capable than you give them credit it for. What's more, they will only resent you if you hold them back.
The argument below is a fight most of us have had with our parents. The word hate may have be thrown around, but it's love that eventually brought Marlin and Nemo back together.
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5. Family Life And Strife: The Incredibles
Pixar hit the nail on the head with this representation of the nuclear family, with the added bonus of superhero powers. We can all relate to this scene above when a nice family dinner goes wrong and it all ends in an epic shouting match.
The powers of each member relates perfectly to their family roles. Dad's super strength places in a position of responsibility, Mum's flexibility shows the juggling she has to do as a mother of three, the teenage daughter wants to exclude herself from others while going unnoticed and the son is quick and full of energy, much to the exhaustion of everyone else. It seems even superheroes have family troubles and there's something everyone can relate to in their set up.
In addition to the family's trivial day-to-day, they are of course, undercover superheroes. The scene below sees them all in danger and yet still responding like a family would. Helen is trying to protect her children and more and more responsibility is being passed down to Violet, the teenager. Whereas Mr Incredible feels helpless as he is unable to protect his family as he feels he should. The real message of the movie is that family always comes first.
6. Slowing Down And Enjoying Life: Cars
In our 20s and 30s life is all go, go, go. We've (hopefully) found our life calling and are out to become as successful as we can. At this stage, life is about living hard and fast. As Lightning McQueen shows in the clip above, you've got to be number one and the way to get that is to focus, dream big and work quickly.
However, when he finally takes the time to slow down as shown below, he begins to learn that life can take on a more relaxed pace and be just as enjoyable. Plus, who knows you may notice more if you take the time to put the brakes on. Teaching us all that life isn't a sprint, it's a marathon and you don't want to burn out half way through.
7. Bringing Back Passions And Pleasures: Ratatouille
During the middle years of life, it's important to find something that we enjoy and it should be something we do for personal pleasure as opposed to pleasing others. Ratatouille combines the world's greatest pleasure, food, with learning a skill in order to revitalize many lives.
Remy the rat achieves his life ambition of becoming a chef, while Linguini finds his flair and unearths his love of cooking with the help of the little rodent critter. The movie inspires you to try something new and perhaps discover a new talent as pleasure is to be given into and enjoyed.
The finale of the film sees Remy and Linguine trying to ensure the success of the restaurant and please the notorious food critic, Anton Ego. The use of food evokes feelings of nostalgia for the 'grim-eater' and takes him right back to his happy childhood. A sensation we can all relate to, especially when eating Grandma's cooking.
8. Preservation And Looking To The Future: WALL-E
Although WALL-E received mixed reviews, there is no denying how poignant the movie's message is. The film essentially acts as a warning to the way in which humans are choosing to treat the planet and technology. WALL-E may be rusty and falling apart, but he seeks to preserve life and conserve nature, where-as EVE, the modern robot, is out to destroy it. It's only when the two find harmony and work together are they able to save the human race from its high-tech dystopia.
The movies mirrors the awareness gained in later life of how quickly time passes you by and that it needs to be nurtured. Many grandparents would attest to being concerned of the state of things they are leaving for their grandchildren. Wall-E symbolizes that age of wisdom and the ability to look back and learn. It's also quite striking how Wall-E is so lonely until he meets EVE, something which no doubt resonates with the older generation when they start to feel redundant.
The scene below is very disturbing because if you take away the spaceship, you have today's society. We're fatter and less active than any generation before. Plus, we are more obsessed with screens than ever and we much prefer to communicate via the internet than face-to-face. Perhaps Pixar is trying to teach us all, with the help of adorable robot, the value of the planet and true human interaction.
9. Dealing With Death: Up
Without any doubt in my mind, Pixar created one of the most moving and realistic representations of love, life and death that can be understood by both children and adults. This five minute scene packs more punch than a lot of "weepy" movies. Carl and Ellie's love is the stuff of dreams most of us would love to have such a fulfilling relationship in our lives. Nonetheless, their life isn't a Disney fairytale, it's filled with sadness as well as joy. Pixar's delivery of miscarriages, financial mishaps and unreached goals will speak volumes to many real life couples.
Watching Ellie and Carl's life unfold makes it all the more heartbreaking when she dies and you see him miss her everyday. I must admit I'm tearing up writing about it. The movie is definitely about an adventure, but it's the journey Carl must take in order to accept his wife's death that is the most poignant.
Life doesn't have to be full of flashy holidays, sports cars or wealth. It's what you make of it that counts and although death comes to us all, we should enjoy the ride while we can. Notice how in both scenes, not one word is uttered and yet you understand every emotion felt. Truly powerful.
There's no denying that Pixar takes its movies further than just brilliant animation. The lessons learnt from these films affect both children and adults and what better way to give an important message than by watching something so enjoyable?
It makes sense that the Pixar universes have developed as the writers themselves have grown. After all, the studio is now in its fortieth year, so their staff have matured along with the nature of films. This completely makes sense when you think about it, they are writing what they know and that's what makes it so good.
Do you agree that Pixar's movies follow the story of life?