Thursday, September 23

Pulling Rabbits: On Pixar

Let's get the facts straight here.

Fact 1: Pixar released their first film, Toy Story, in 1995. They made their second one (A Bugs Life) in 1998, and have since released a new movie almost every year (the only exceptions being 2000, 2002 and 2005). Besides this, they have released an impressive array of shorts.

Fact 2: With the exception of Cars, all of these movies and shorts are brilliant. Cars is just really good.

Fact 3: Pixar has managed to make some of the best sequels of all time.

Fact 4: This is one of the most impressive track records in the history of cinema.

Think about that for a moment.

What are you looking at?

Pixar has been around since the time I was four. Their movies have brought me endless joy as a kid, then endless joy as a teenager, and when I re-watch them there is just no denial that they are great movies. And I'm not alone in this: professional critics, who are very often three times my age, have lauded every Pixar movie in existence with praise. And that's not even to mention their great commercial successes.

How is this even possible? I have to confess that I don't know. I have some ideas, of course, but so does everyone else with any interest in movies. I have heard theories about their success ranging from their focus on storytelling to their emphasis on male leading parts. (Really. It's actually a pretty interesting idea, and the guy who wrote it down is one of my favorite critics, Moviebob. Check it out). But what personally has always impressed me the most is how many layers of meaning there are in these movies.

I can't really explain this without an example, so please watch the following scene from Toy Story:

What does a child see here? Buzz Lightyear is being overtly dramatic, and then falls for a very obvious joke. Oh, that silly Buzz! What do his parents see? Woody is openly mocking Buzz, but he is actually jealous  because he has been replaced as Andys favorite toy. Buzz, however, is still in the delusion that he is actually a spaceman, instead of just a toy. Drama! And what does a pretentious nerd like myself see here? Severe denial of their condition as toys by both characters. Buzz, of course, doesn't realize (or doesn't want to) realize why he exists, while Woody doesn't seem to grasp the true consequences of accepting this. If your purpose in life is to please a child, he will one day discard you. You will be mercilessly fired from your position. But is this a bad thing if you have served the purpose of your existence before that? And this is just what you can make out from a fragment of little over a minute.


Pixar came into existence when the Disney empire started sucking (I.E. just after The Lion King was made) and have since made some of the best Disney movies ever. So it's not strange that they were purchased by said company in 2006. Disney itself has only made about 2 decent movies in the time that Pixar has been around (Fantasia 2000 and Brother Bear, to be exact), so I feel safe to say that the torch has been passed. A new generation of animators has risen, and if their previous work is any indicator we can expect some very, very exciting things. Walt Disney would be proud.


I love Randy Newman, Pixar loves Randy Newman, so here is a song by Randy Newman.

1 comment:

  1. I'm a big fan of Pixar. I think they can do no wrong. (In fact, they haven't).

    I am Fickle Cattle.