Friday, February 10, 2017

Favorite Scene Friday! Up: Taking Off

All this month we'll be looking at the last decade of films nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture. However it's also February, which is the month of Valentine's Day, so I'm picking a film that was nominated for Best Picture, but also means a great deal to my relationship, as it was the first film I saw with my fiancée, and remains one of our favourites to this day, Pixar's Up.
Artwork by Posterinspired, available on Etsy
The most discussed - and most romantic - scene from Up is easily the opening montage, depicting the life-long relationship between Carl and Ellie, from mis-matched children through their wedding, failed attempts to have children, plans to seek adventures elsewhere and eventually Ellie's heartbreaking demise, but that's not my favourite part. It's not the scene where they meet Dug (although the lovable talking dog is easily one of my top Pixar characters, probably in the top 10), nor is it anything to do with the film's villain, Charles Muntz, or occasionally annoying sidekick Russell. No, the greatest scene in Up lasts just 6 seconds, and is when Carl's newly-flying house passes by the window of a little girl, casting her room in a kaleidoscopic disco of colours and shapes.

The moment is a classic Pixar notion, a creative extrapolation of how their main plot could tangentially - and beautifully - impact the most minor of characters around them. In this instance it's how Carl's house being carried away by hundreds of helium-filled balloons would look to the people nearby. Onlookers understandably stare in disbelief, mouths agape. A window cleaner on a skyscraper gives a confused wave. And a little girl delights in her room being temporarily decorated like a giant bag of Skittles. It warms my heart every time I watch it.

Granted that snippet is part of a bigger whole, so let's also take a quick glance at the rest of the scene. I really like the two orderlies who come to collect Carl to take him to the nursing home. I don't know why I love that one of them has the label sticking out of this shirt, but I do. And the other one, George, is voiced by Donald Fullilove, who also played Mayor Goldie Wilson in Back To The Future. I enjoy the storytelling of the scene. Beforehand we don't know what Carl's plan is, we just know he's due to be shipped off to the retirement home after attacking a construction worker for accidentally damaging his sentimentally invaluable mailbox, but clues are given immediately as the nurses walk away from his front door, remarking on the poor upkeep of the yard which was formerly pristine, but is now littered with empty gas canisters from all the balloons.

OK so some scene elements are a little far fetched - just where did Carl get that impossibly large bag holding the balloons from, and where exactly were they before he unleashed them, and what were they tied to, and how the heck does the tiny little weather vane act as a rudder for something literally the size of a house - but frankly who cares? Just forget all that rubbish and listen to Michael Giacchino's fabulous score and bask in the glorious visuals.

What's your favorite moment from Pixar?

1 comment:

  1. Great moment in a film that is so damn full of them. Funny enough, I almost picked a scene from Up for this series. Not the beginning (I don't think I could EVER do justice to that scene - just thinking about it makes me choke up a bit) but the reveal of the contents of Ellie's adventure journal later in the film. Hell, that scene makes me choke up just thinking about it. DAMMMIT, Pixar!

    Great, whimsical scene. Must be aggravating from an engineering perspective, though. Is the grate thing at the bottom of the chimney really strong enough to support the weight of the house?? Also, I'm thinking the weather vane is just the means of control for the side sails?