I saw the movie Up on opening weekend a few weekends ago. It was a wonderful, poignant film. Pixar found the ‘magic’ formula: Up is a movie children will find hilarious and a movie adults will find touching. This movie serves as a reminder to live life in the present and that joy comes from unexpected sources.
One of the beauties of Up is that the first 15 minutes of the movie, which contain very little dialogue, captured my heart in a way that many full feature non-animated movies have not. In these 15 minutes the viewer sees the relationship between Carl and Ellie Fredericksen, one a yin to the other’s yang.
As children, Carl is quiet, timid, and bashful and Ellie is loud, brash, and unafraid. They fit each other like well matched puzzle pieces, as each is looking for an adventure partner (and each desperately desires a trip to the lost world in South America). Through a sweet instrumental soundtrack, the first part of the movie gracefully shows Carl and Ellie marrying and starting their life together. The clips of Carl and Ellie going on picnics and dreaming of their South American adventure gradually become moving understated clips of Carl and Ellie being told that they lost their unborn child. The clips continue with the couple growing older together, each working their respective jobs at the zoo, sitting harmoniously together in their reading chairs, and keeping the memory of their desired trip alive. Their savings jar for their trip is used for life’s unexpected expenses (car and house repairs) and by the end of the montage, Ellie and Carl have lived a long, happy life together, but never took the trip. Ellie passes away.
The movie then switches gears and shows Carl as a grumpy old man, set in his ways. If the movie started with this scene, Up would have lost its sentimental value and would have just been an amusing cartoon about a cranky man. But because I, the viewer, saw the caring man he was throughout his life, I had a much greater empathy for his situation (being alone) and his desire to finally go on that trip to South America, despite great barriers.
The rest of the movie becomes fast paced and funny, with less time spent on poignant moments. However, due to the first 15 minutes, I left the movie feeling very moved. Up reaffirms the value of a loving relationship and of not having ‘rigid’ dreams. Carl thought he had failed by not making it to South American with Ellie, but in reality, Carl and Ellie’s adventures were the everyday moments spent together—moments that never could have been dreamed of. I think life’s best moments are moments one can’t predict. I think freedom and happiness comes from being open to the unexpected and treasuring the adventure that your current life already brings.