Typically, Pixar did not disappoint in 2009 with its annual release Up. Like those that came before it, Up contains a magic that has simply come to be expected of the aforementioned studio. There were three things that stood out to me: Up’s opening sequence, its animation, and its score.
Never have I seen a movie that lays out so much groundwork so efficiently, both in sheer scale and emotion, in its first ten minutes. In one of its many homages to film, Up opens in a movie theatre and we see a young Carl Frederickson in awe of his idol, adventurer Charles Muntz, who is on the screen. Carl leaves the theatre “zipping and zooming” around like he is an airplane when he comes past an abandoned house that seems to be making noises. Those noises are coming from Ellie, a young girl who is also pretending to be flying a plane as well. When Carl goes searching for her inside, she sneaks up behind him and scares him. Carl is bashful, but enamored with the brash Ellie. Instantaneously, we see their lives bounce from one adventure to the next. Each snapshot reveals more and more about their love for one another and once Ellie passes on, we are left with a man who feels empty and unsure of how to start over at such a late point in his life. It is a truly endearing moment for the viewer because it has told us so much about where our main character has been, yet hasn’t told us anything about where he might be going.
When it comes to animation, Pixar’s gift lies in their ability to thrill us with their attention to detail. From Finding Nemo’s multicolored ocean floors to Wall-E’s captivating view of the universe, they are constantly taking animation to new heights. As Carl begins his journey, he makes his way through the city’s peaks and valleys. There is a moment as the house ascends past an apartment building and we see a little girl sitting in her bedroom playing with her toys. As light travels through the balloons of Carl’s house, it creates a kaleidoscope effect within the girl’s room and we watch her run to the window in amazement. This is just one of the many visual treats the film offers up to us.
Finally, the music of Up is so charming no wonder it is sweeping all the awards for the year’s best score. It compliments the film’s themes so effortlessly and when you walk out of the film you can’t stop humming the tunes. It has a sound that reminds me of classic French films like The Red Balloon. The rhythms are soothing, yet stimulating and like all Pixar films they make me do one thing when I hear them: smile.