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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Director Pete Docter brings fiction to life

    From the secret lives of toys in “”Toy Story,”” to the workaholic bugs in “”A Bug’s Life,”” to cute and cuddly monsters in “”Monsters, Inc.,”” to the environment-loving life of a robot in “”Wall-E,”” Pixar has not only taken audiences of all ages on many adventures, but it’s also the expert in creating new and fantastical worlds.

    Pixar is taking a bold step into reality with its new film “”Up”” and bringing the audience along Carl Fredricksen’s (Edward Asner) ultimate adventure.

    When Carl suddenly becomes a widower, he decides to act on his lifelong dream of seeing South America. It is here that Pixar strays from reality a bit; Carl flies to South America with the help of thousands of balloons he attaches to the top of his home. After ascending hundreds of feet in the air, he realizes he brought an unexpected passenger, a young boy named Russel (Jordan Nagai).

    In 1995, Pixar was the first to make an entire film (Toy Story) using only computer-generated imagery. Fourteen years later, they stay true to their innovative hearts by producing “”Up”” in 3-D.

    “”Hopefully 3-D becomes just another element to emphasize what we are trying to put forward in terms of emotions,”” said Pete Docter, “”Up”” director and longtime employee of Pixar.

    Although “”Up”” is an animated children’s film, the storyline deals with heavy subjects, such as death.

    “”We didn’t shy away from it,”” said Docter. “”I think that it was important for the anchor of the film, the sort of foundation that you could then build on which allowed us to get a little more goofball,”” said Docter.

    In each of its films, Pixar is able to find a balance between emotion and humor.

    “”I am very proud of the emotion in our films,”” said Docter. “”Even though they are about toys, bugs, monsters or whatever, hopefully there is something that is very relatable to people that they can see themselves up there, in some way, on the screen.””

    Docter explained that he learned his philosophy from Joe Grant, a legendary Disney artist and writer who passed away in 2005. An inspiration for “”Up,”” Grant contributed to Disney films dating back to the ’30s, and in the ’90s he shared great wisdom that Docter continues to reference over a decade later.

    “”As I was pitching my ideas, he would always ask, ‘What are you giving the audience to take home?’ I would think, ‘What does that mean?’ Of course what he meant was: Beyond just funny gags, what is going to land emotionally? What is the audience going to carry home and continue to think about after the movie ends? That is something that I am always looking for as I am getting into these movies,”” said Docter.

    This way of thinking is what sets Pixar films apart from the bulk of children’s films; they make movies that people of all ages want to see.

    “”If filmmakers keep making movies that talk down to kids and are just trying to crank them out to make a quick buck, they won’t invite audiences in,”” said Docter.

    In the five years it took to create “”Up,”” an ample amount of time was spent on research. From meeting with grief counselors to experiencing South America firsthand, Pixar made sure it backed this film with intellect.

    “”We met with a grief counselor to learn about behaviors of people who were going through a devastating loss. We know that everyone reacts differently, but we did find some patterns in what people do. What Carl does is retreat, he pulls back into his house, and it is not until he is forced to do so that he takes this big risk and flies off to South America,”” said Docter.

    In order to depict South America suitably on the big screen, an expedition to Venezuela was necessary.

    “”The world that we travel to in South America is so unique and bizarre in real life that there was a concern from the beginning people are going to think that we made it up. That was a big reason we had to go down and do the research, we wanted to capture as much reality as we could. The experience was really invaluable for us,”” said Docter.

    “”People will find that this movie is respectful of their intelligence as well as entertaining,”” he added.

    Docter believes that animated films bring audiences an entertainment experience unlike any other.

    “”You can exaggerate certain things, you can push physics,”” said Docter. “”A part of your brain knows that it is fake, and yet we are able to take people on these emotional journeys where they cry, laugh and care about the characters. There is something magic about that, that I really love.””

    “”Up”” proves to have as much depth, if not more, than other movies filmed with live actors.

    “”I want people to be swept up in this world and taken away for an hour and a half, and at the end kind of wake up and go ‘Whoa, where was I?'”” said Docter.

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